The Performing Arts Festival offers CQSB students the opportunity to learn new art forms, including sword dancing during workshops held at Quebec High School. (Photo by Cassandra Kerwin)

CQSB talent shines at the 17th Performing Arts Festival

Cassandra Kerwin

On April 25, the Central Québec School Board (CQSB)’s 17th Performing Arts Festival (PAF) returned after a two-year hiatus. This year, students from seven high schools gathered at Quebec High School for workshops and, for the first time, at the Palais Montcalm for the evening talent show.

The day began with workshops, the loudest being drumming, held in the gymnasium. Other students worked up a sweat dancing, playing guitar or acting.

The PAF gives students access to specialists from the community in different fields: graphic design, photography, film editing, computer animation, DJing, songwriting and music production.

“We are encouraging these multimedia workshops, especially since they aren’t part of their classes and [are] becoming career opportunities,” said Paul Hinton, assistant co-ordinator of PAF. “Quebec City is always looking for bilingual people to work in these domains. If we can light something in these kids, that’s great.”

After lunch and the one-mic battle in the cafeteria, it was off to the Palais Montcalm for the soundcheck and pizza. “We had 850 seats for staff, students, friends and family from the seven participating schools and we were sold out,” said PAF co- ordinator Bronwen Hughes.

The curtain opened with an impressive synchronized hip-hop and country dance number performed by over 60 dancers from St. Patrick’s High School. This was a tough act to follow, yet the 14 that did follow also impressed the crowd. MCs Sophie Demers and Alexis Ouellet kept the show on track. Comedian Yukima Hamel got the crowd laughing with her monologue about writing a monologue for the PAF show.

“[Things] that make this PAF stronger and better [are] our coaches and roaming artistic director Daniel Bélanger. For the second year, he is working with the local schools to find out what they need before PAF,” said Hughes. “We hope to expand to our other schools.” Former students and participants are now specialists ready to return as coaches.

CQSB students strut their stuff onstage to close the 2022 Performing Arts Festival. This year, they had the thrill of performing for family and friends at the Palais Montcalm. Here, Quebec High School Dance Concentration students give an outstanding performance of “Boss Ladies.” (Photo by Cassandra Kerwin)
La Tuque High School students give a great performance of Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled around and fell in love.” (Photo by Cassandra Kerwin)

As much as the PAF opens students’ minds to new experiences, it puts them centre stage and in certain cases, makes them face their fears, including stage fright. The CQSB community is more than supportive and understanding in such situations. Spectators shouted words of comfort and encouragement hoping to help their fellow schoolmates. Even though fear sometimes won, the students’ bravery shone through and the CQSB community couldn’t be prouder.

“We are happier than we could have ever imagined. The students’ reactions were of pride and magic,” said Hughes. “COVID taught us that PAF is more than a festival. It’s a place for students to connect and feel the CQSB community pride and to show their creations and creativity.”

On May 4, it’s the elementary schools’ turn to hold their 17th PAF. “It sets the stage for the high school version,” said Hinton. “Since we are having the show at the Palais Mont- calm, it is the first time parents can come and we are sold out. Workshops follow in the afternoon at Holland School.”

CQSB talent shines at the 17th Performing Arts Festival was last modified: May 3rd, 2022 by QCT Editor

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