Students go big at MVC performing arts camp

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Missouri Valley College Associate Professor of Theater Harold Hynick works with students participating in a performing arts camp held June 15-19. (Sarah Reed/Democrat-News)

As part of an acting exercise Friday, June 19, more than a dozen teens and pre-teens collected as a unit on the stage at Eckilson-Mabee Theatre, at Missouri Valley College, transforming themselves from individuals into a gigantic machine.

Standing in one place, some bopped up and down, and others swung their limbs while creating constant sounds.

The machine began with a whispered chugging sound, "Ch-ch-cha, ch-ch-cha, ch-ch-cha," and others were added as new youths jumped in, such as beeps, hums and claps. Before long, the "machine" overworked and students tossed themselves to the floor.

"If you have a question, ask yourself 'what do I need to do to make this successful,'" Associate Professor of Theater Harold Hynick told the group when preparing for the machine. "Remember, once it starts, to watch what has been established, and before you go in make sure you see what new change has been added each time. Work together to make this machine successful."

The Friday exercise was one of many they participated in during the five-day Performing Arts Camp hosted by MVC's Division of Fine Arts.

A press release issued by the college stated: "Students will learn the basics of acting by developing characters and scenes in an environment that challenges them to explore and discover something new each time. Through dance, students will explore the possibilities of human movement through improvisation and technique."

The camp also offered an opportunity to improve musical theater skills and improvisation.

"I really enjoyed that machine, you were really working together," Hynick said, later offering constructive criticism. "Make sure that there's a human take to that communication at all times."

He also guided the students to question the choices they make in ending scenes and urged them to think of how they react to what has already taken place.

"I think every one of our machines has ended up in an explosion," he said. "We've also played around before with the option that sometimes the machine wants to melt. It's OK if you make that choice. You don't always have to have the machine end up in an explosion. ... That's all up to you."

Hynick is involved in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and is a member of the Educational Theatre Association, according to the press release, in addition to multiple professional accomplishments.

Faculty members estimated this as the fifth year they've held the performance camp.

Diana Malan, chair of MVC's fine arts department and associate professor of music and theater, noted they sensed a need in the community.

"When the school district discontinued their summer musical camp, Harold Hynick felt that we might be able to offer something for the community to replace this summer activity," she said. "It started with just some theater activities and about eight students, then dance was added the second year, then a musical theater section was offered."

Malan has been involved in more than 80 MVC theatrical productions, according to the college -- her groups have also performed in Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, St. Louis and Nassau, Bahamas. She and Hynick -- along with Associate Professor of Dance Janie Morgan -- led this year's week-long camp, which concluded with a showcase for friends and family Friday evening.

"We now offer a variety of workshops, including acting, Shakespeare, improvisation, dance and musical theater. (It) seems to be a wonderful activity for the students who attend," Malan said.

The camp has averaged 20 participants the past two years.

Contact Sarah Reed at

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