We are extremely honored this year to count among our teaching artists two amazing gentlemen, Messrs. Paul Davis and Kabby Mitchell. They are teaching music and dance respectively in this year’s academy and serving as musical director and choreographer the summer musical, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry. I sat down with these two gentlemen after an intense day of teaching to talk about their professional experiences as well as their perspectives on youth performing arts. It is a joy and pleasure to work with these gentlemen for this year’s Summer Performing Arts Academy, and it is our pleasure to share this with you.
NAK: What is your artistic speciality? And please share with us a little info on your professional trajectory to date.
Paul Davis: I am a singer/song writer and I am creative director. I have written musicals. I started off with singing and producing theater in the airforce and then studied piano at Seattle Central College where I met several African-American professionals in the arts and culture sector. I am currently working as a vocal coach and as a choir director and coach with various churches and musical organizations. I am also the Executive Director of the Human Harmony Choral Academy.
Kabby Mitchell: I am a dancer, choreographer and educator with emphasis on the latter two. I was the first African-American to dance for the Pacific Northwest Ballet. I have also danced with Dance Theater of Harlem as well as the Netherlands Dance Theatre. I have also worked in Mexico with Televisa performing in Spanish and English.
NAK: In what ways do you see the performing arts having an impact on the young people?
PD & KM: It assists them in building their personal creativity. It also gives them a level of discipline that they can transfer to other areas. You see the adverse affects of this when arts were removed the public schools. Many children completely tapped out because they didn’t have an outlet that allowed them to build confidence, discipline and have a creative outlet.
NAK: What is most exciting about this year’s Summer Performing Arts Academy?
KM: I left a class where we dealt with the history of Jim Crow to teach choreography for a play like Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry. That is amazing! Because of my background in African-American studies, I am able to contextualize the history and events of that time as well as translating that into into choreography.
PM: I get to tap into my gospel roots. The kids are incredibly talented. With the right among of training, they will be able to become artists in their own right.