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                    COVID-19/Coronavirus Update

                                                              Updated Monday, May 4, 2020

Good morning Rise Up families, 

I want to start off by thanking all of the parents and students who have participated in our online learning formats. It has been a challenge for us, mounting our Dancing for Tiny Feet program, our Rise Up Unlimited program, and our Beauty and the Beast JR production to distance learning platforms, and we thank those who have been doing their best to participate. Those who have been attending the Zoom sessions, submitting videos on Google Classroom, and practicing at home. We recognize you, and thank you for your dedication to the organization and the performing arts. 

The Rise Up board of directors has made the difficult decision to halt distance learning instruction for both our Unlimited program and the Beauty and the Beast JR production. The board has decided to postpone Rise Up Unlimited until the governor allows for non-essential businesses to re-open. We have also decided to cancel our production of Beauty and the Beast JR. 

This was not an easy decision to make, and there were multiple factors that contributed to it. First and foremost, the health, safety, and emotional well-being of our students is our primary concern. We had hoped that continuing to provide rehearsals and assignments for students while in quarantine would bring stability and routine to their lives. While some parents have the additional time and resources to support their children through extra-curricular activities, this simply isn’t a reality for everyone. As a result, we have had many parents who are stressed out and overwhelmed by keeping up with Zoom sessions and submitting assignments for the program. 

We understand that both YCUSD and MJUSD are providing distance learning for students, and that parents are busy keeping their children on task with assignments and Zoom meetings for their school. We do not wish to add an additional burden to families, as we feel that school should be a priority right now. We want our families to focus on supporting their children through distance learning in their child’s classroom, and feel that right now, our programs are taking too much time away from that focus. 

Secondly, while we do have a select group of students who have been actively participating in our programs, a majority of the cast for Beauty and the Beast are not. There are many students who either have not logged into Google Classroom, are not attending Zoom meetings, and not submitting their videos. This creates a challenge for us attempting to produce the show, as we have lost a significant amount of our students through the online format. Many of the students who have contacted us about dropping the show have expressed the concerns I stated earlier, and we don’t want to risk losing more students by continuing to drag families through this stressful new rehearsal process. 

Lastly, the uncertain times make it difficult to predict when and how we will be able to move forward with this show. We are hoping that we will be able to return to in-person meetingS, but Governor Newsom has not yet signaled that it’s happening any time soon. Even when it does, one of the last phases of re-opening will be public performances. Without being able to tell when we will be able to perform this show, and with current projections from our governor, it seems unlikely that we will be able to perform until December, or even into next year. We don’t feel that it’s fair to drag our students through an 8-10 month rehearsal process. With the re-casting that would need to be done and the uncertainty of when we will be able to perform, we at Rise Up feel that the best course of action at this point is to try again next spring, with a fresh start after this has all blown over. 

We are incredibly disappointed that we are cancelling the show, and feel especially bad for the students who have been working so hard for the past three months to continue with the program, despite the online challenges. We feel that it’s important to honor the achievement of those involved students, and give them an opportunity to give their characters a proper send off. Therefore, we have decided to throw a virtual cast party, to say THANK YOU to all of the students who have worked so hard! This cast party will be a chance for students in the cast to socialize with one another and share their favorite memories. Those who are interested may even dress up like their character, and perform a special scene or song from the show for their cast-mates and teachers! You can use anything you have around your house to create your “costume,” we’re excited to see what you can come up with! We have three potential dates for this party, so parents please email me with your preference. Right now, we’re thinking Tuesday, May 12th at 5:00pm, Thursday, May 14th at 5:00pm, or Saturday, May 16th at 2:00pm. The virtual cast party will not last more than an hour, and is an optional event to show students how proud and appreciative we are of all of their hard work. 

In addition to this virtual cast party, we are inviting any student who is still interested in singing and dancing onstage to join our Rise Up Unlimited program! This is our touring performance group. Right now, we are working on a musical called Dear Edwina JR. This is a heartwarming musical with fantastic dance numbers, and has plenty of opportunities to sing and dance onstage! The production of this musical is more simplistic than Beauty and the Beast JR: minimal costumes and props, and no set. We perform for 5 after school programs, and (if public performances are allowed) also perform for the community at parks and other events. We would love for the students in Beauty and the Beast JR to join us! We are so proud of every person in the cast, and think that you all would make fantastic additions to the Unlimited group. Performing for elementary school students is a rewarding experience, the energy in that crowd is phenomenal! 

Rehearsals for the Unlimited program will resume when either non-essential businesses are allowed to reopen by order of the governor, or when schools reopen for the fall (whichever comes first). As of right now, our tentative date is July 7th. Rehearsals will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-8pm, just like in Beauty and the Beast, but no Saturdays! We will reteach all big production numbers so that we can integrate our new ensemble into the show. This will also serve as a valuable review opportunity for our current Unlimited group. The rehearsal schedule was sent out in an email, and has more information on dates and times. Please take a look at the “ALL” called days, as others pertain just to the current Unlimited students. Let me know if you are interested in taking advantage of this performance opportunity! We always have a lot of fun in our Unlimited program, and are excited to welcome new students. 

Even though we will not be proceeding with our scheduled musical theatre programs during the quarantine, that doesn’t mean an end to Rise Up programs. When we started moving to distance learning, we stated that the reasoning was to provide structure and a creative outlet to students that needed it during this unsettling time. That’s still incredibly important to us. So while we will not be proceeding with rehearsals, I am very excited to announce the launch of new online programs, designed for students who want to continue performing without the stress of preparing for a show!

These new programs will not have a performance component, therefore there is no pressure to commit if you don’t wish to. These programs are designed to provide fun performing arts classes to the students who want to continue to be involved in Rise Up programs. These will be FREE programs open to students of all ages. We highly encourage our students who were involved with Beauty and the Beast to participate.

Starting May 18th, we will be offering Instagram Live dance classes. These classes will teach fun jazz and musical theatre dance combos to popular songs, and will be live-streamed on our Instagram page! We will be hosting these free dance classes twice a month. As stated before, students of ALL ages can participate. Even parents are welcome to join in! If you want to show off what you’ve learned, you can record yourself doing the dances and send them to us to be posted on our Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram pages! To participate in this program and receive updates on our classes, please follow our Instagram page: riseup_performingarts. 

We recognize that there are logistics to iron out in cancelling our Beauty and the Beast production, and we will be spending the next few weeks sorting that out. We will be processing refunds for any parent ads sold for the production, and should be sending those checks in the mail shortly. As for scripts, we are asking that families return all scripts that were borrowed. We will be holding a curb-side drop off on Tuesday, May 12th from 11:30am-2:30pm at the Marysville Youth and Civic Center (1830 B Street in Marysville). Please drive up at any time during that window, stay in your car, and we will retrieve the script. If you purchased your script, you are not required to return it, however you can return your script for a refund of $10If this is the case, please send me an email with your expected arrival time so that we can plan for a safe exchange on the drop-off date. If you would like to keep your script and have not yet paid for it, please drop off cash or check (made out to Rise Up) in the amount of $10 at MyCC during that window. As stated earlier, we ask that you please send an email letting us know if you are interested in doing this with an expected arrival time, so that we can prepare. If you are not able to make it during the above window of time to drop off your script, please send me an email so that we can arrange for that return.

If you purchased props or materials for the show, we would be happy to return them to you. Please send me an email telling me what you bought for the show, and what time you are planning on arriving during our drop off window and we will have the item ready for you. With that being said, all props are valuable to us, and can be reused in future productions. We would be very grateful for the donation if you would like to leave the props you purchased with us. 

Once again, I want to thank all of you for being a part of our production. We were thrilled that so many students auditioned, and are so thankful to the students that stayed with us through distance learning. We feel that this shift in focus to fun, low-pressure online programs will take a burden off of struggling parents, and help them to focus on their child’s education. At the same time, we feel that this new structure creates fun opportunities for the students who want to continue with their performing arts involvement. Please email me if you have any questions at all. Thank you for your involvement in Rise Up programs, and I hope that everyone will participate in our spring musical next year in better circumstances!

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