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Amaris S., 17 and Jakobi H., 18 attend Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas, Texas. They are participants in the nonprofit AT&T Performing Art Center’s Open Stages education program.

It’s early evening in mid-November. Hundreds of teenagers walk on pillows and wade through water in the lobby of Dallas City Performance Hall – two “situations” they’re acting out as part of an improvisation workshop offered by the nonprofit AT&T Performing Arts Center.

The Center’s innovative education program, Open Stages, allows students to learn from professional performers, in this case – members of the legendary Chicago comedy troupe, The Second City. The students receive personal instruction and post-workshop, enjoy a live performance where they can see the principles they’ve learned in action. For many students, it’s the first professional production they’ve ever seen.

Two of the students participating in the Open Stages program are Amaris S. and Jakobi H. They attend Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas, and have been waiting weeks for this night. Their enthusiasm is obvious, especially when talking about the benefits of improve in their everyday life.

“I do a lot of public speaking,” Amaris explains. “When I can’t think of a word, or remember what I’m supposed to say next, I just come up with it and keep going – that’s something I learned in improv.”

“When you’re writing an essay, it isn’t necessarily about knowing every right thing to say, but being able to express your opinion and back it up,” Says Jakobi. “I want to become a game designer,” he says. “Beyond knowing the technology, I can help create and tell the stories.”

The benefits also teach “soft-skills” that are vital to college and career readiness. Students learn how to work with one another as a team, in a range of situations that require them to be empathetic and anticipatory – reading situations and people and reacting in a constructive way.

The education programs of the AT&T Performing Arts Center focus on the futures of young people – just like Amaris and Jakobi. Our organization acknowledges that success in life will require the ability to adapt quickly to a dynamic economy. The performing arts give students the tools to think critically and analytically and learn new skills with ease. One thing is for sure, when you speak with Amaris and Jakobi, the power of the arts is undeniable.

If you would like to learn more about the curriculum we’re building for students, the experiences we offer them, or how you can help grow our education programs – we want to hear from you!

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