TEMPLE HILLS - Many parents in Prince George’s County enroll their children in a variety of summer day camps ranging from engineering to basketball to arts and crafts.
However, Paula Brown Performing Arts Center (PBPAC), located at 4856 Stamp Road in Temple Hills, opens up a whole new world to youth who are interested in artistic expression and are aspiring professional performers.
Advanced dancers received intensive training in ballet, pointe, Horton, jazz, contemporary, lyrical and hip-hop dance techniques during a Summer Dance Intensive. Children as young as four years old participated in a Broadway Baby Boomers Summer Musical Theatre Camp. The four-week creative journey allowed them to dive into choreography, singing and dialogue from the Broadway Musical, “West Side Story.”
Cheerful applause and laughter indicated that both groups of campers captured the hearts of attendees who came to see culmination presentations at Joe’s Movement Emporium in Mount Rainier on July 22. Thrilling performances impressed parents, families, friends and arts supporters who paid a $10 admission fee to discover how much growth had been achieved in a short period of time, with the help of dance instructors, camp counselors, staff, interns, writers and the Artistic Director/Founder of PBPAC, Paula Brown-Douglas. The multi-talented founder directed and choreographed a high-quality remake of “West Side Story.”
“I thank you parents for supporting my vision and what I want to do with these children. My dream and my aspiration is to instill value in them, give them a purpose, teach them to love one another,” Brown-Douglas said at the end of the thrilling performance. “I love to see them do what they enjoy doing. They make me feel so good.”
Long before holding dance and performance classes for adults and children as young as three, Brown-Douglas moved to New York City after graduating from Central High School to accept a full scholarship at the Alvin Ailey School of Dance. Brown-Douglas was also invited to become a company member of the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble and ultimately performed on Broadway, television and film. Debbie Allen’s discovery of Brown-Douglas in New York City led to a move to Los Angeles, where she was a series regular on the 80s television show, “Fame.” Allen is a dancer, television producer and choreographer.
Brown-Douglas also became the lead singer of the internationally and nationally acclaimed group called Snap, which was known for hits such as “I Got The Power” and “Rhythm Is A Dancer.” After fulfilling a wide array of her career dreams, Brown-Douglas returned home to Prince George’s County. She established PBPAC in 2012 to provide inner city youth with an opportunity and outlet to develop social skills, discipline and other qualities while training for the arts. Brown-Douglas said what she is doing today through the non-profit has always been her dream.
“Living in L.A., I was able to do a lot of Screen Actors Guild - merican Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and Equity work, which means I’ve done television, film, Broadway and recording music. And it was time for me to come home and give back to my community where I grew up and instill the same dream and passion that I was able to pursue in children here,” Brown-Douglas said while providing examples of how her students benefit from training at PBPAC. “I think it gives them their own identity. I think it instills values in them. It gives them self-esteem. It gives them camaraderie of coming together. It does a lot.”
After performances ended, a steady stream of admirers approached Brown-Douglas to offer remarks for a job well done. Lorraine White from Clinton. was among them. White said she came to see her friend’s daughter perform in the show, but she now wants to go to a dance technique class from Brown-Douglas.
“I was totally impressed,” she said. “For four weeks, you don’t expect this, but you could see that (Brown-Douglas) is very professional. She has done this. This is not the first time for her.
“I believe all young people should be a part of the arts, play an instrument, do a sport, dance. I take ballet, tap and jazz myself, and I didn’t get a chance to do it as a child. I’m a proud adult that can now learn after I turned 40 to do these things, but it gives (children) such confidence. You can’t teach confidence. They learn it from how they feel when they perform and people appreciate it. That’s what I feel and so it’s wonderful.”
For more information about PBPAC, visit www.paulabrownarts.com.