Friday, May 21, 2021

JAPA's Class of 2021

By Dancerina Starlight

Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

Graduation isn’t just the end of a season. It’s also a new season for students, families, staff, and the entire Second Life (SL) community.  It is public acknowledgement that each graduate has fulfilled all requirements as set forth by the institution.  Thus, Journey Academy of Performing Arts (JAPA) held its commencement exercise on Sunday, May 9, 2021. It's the season when JAPA recognizes its dance students who have worked hard to make it to this point in their dance and arts career in Second Life (SL).  

This special day was very intimate among the honorees, families, friends, faculty, and staff.  The graduating class of fifteen proud students stood proudly in their caps and gowns as they waited for the ceremony to commence. As each graduate walked into the room, each one stood on prescribed name plates, waiting to march in with pride and the feelings of accomplishment.

As I scouted the room, I observed graduates exchanging proudful sentiments such as, "We did it!" "These caps and gowns are great!" "I have never worn a cap and gown in real!" These sentiments made the moment that much more inspiring and momentous for graduates.  After all, these students met all the JAPA demands and requirements, or they would not have been able to stand proudly as they waited to hear their names, respectively, to receive their diplomas. 

The first honoree to arrive was Sagia.  Sagia described her experience as "magical." With JAPA pride, Sagia shared that her teachers were the best Spot On teachers in SL and if they can teach [        ] me, you KNOW THEY ARE great! With a smile, Sagia explained that one of the requirements was the graduation showcase in which she performed. She said the theme was "Magic," and she was required to build the set and use Smooth Dancer. She said this was basically a culmination of what they taught her. Spot On and Smooth Dancer are systems which allow you choreograph dances to employ mover to mover. As a dancer, I understood Sagia's language. The mover allows for ease of transition from one set of counts to the  next so it makes the dexterity of each avatar appear real and seamless.  It was a pleasure to speak with Sagia as she expressly "Teehee" when I asked if I could snap a photo of her. Being mindful not to step off her name stand, she asked, "Do I have to move?" I assured her she was fine where she was standing; recognizing the need for her to minimize movement as she waited for the ceremony to begin.

A few moments later, I ran into Morganna, the student resources coordinator for JAPA, who has taken classes there and dances with Virtuoso, JAPA's associated dance company.  Morganna shares the same sentiments as Sagia. She reverberated that based on her own experience, Klark and Delaney are excellent teachers.  She stated all the students really worked hard and had gone to every class, completing assignments and performing their own dances.  She stated it took a lot of perseverance on their part, but they stuck it out week after week.  Morganna explained that it is all about the students to help them have the best possible experience and the knowledge to help them when they get out into the SL dance world.  Morganna exclaimed she enjoys working at JAPA and it is wonderful to be able to help others find  their dreams.

Dave Juiceman, a DJ, chose to study dance at JAPA and stated he enjoys dancing. He thought the classes were informative and the best performance was his final dance.  The excitement among the graduates continued. Janjii was not shy about sharing how great,  happy, and proud she felt about graduating from JAPA.  Janjii had been working on a project since 2013, and now the foundation she has gained at JAPA will help her to improve on her project.  Graduate, Faith Heartsong stated, "I feel very excited and accomplished what I learned as Klark and Delaney are awesome teachers and I am honored that I could learn at JAPA." She looks forward to her dance journey, as she is new to the dance world.  Her favorite aspect of her dance studies is Smooth Dancer Hud class and the finale performance. She highly recommends JAPA for anyone who wants to learn from the ground up in dance.  Each student's experience was unique. Emma Enchantment drank "lots" of coffee, endured many late nights, invested in four pairs of ballet shoes while Gloriana Maertens thought the class opportunity was the right timing.  She enjoyed all the performances. She stated, "This is -hard-.  I don't think audiences really know how much goes into creating acts.  The bravery and effort that goes into getting each one onstage is my favorite part."

Every graduate will agree that the journey through the coursework was rigorous and arduous, but the end results was a day filled with acknowledgements and handshakes. Yet, after my conversations with several graduates, there was one graduate who stole the day. Nikki Naire was the youngest among all the honorees. At eight years old, Nikki managed to travel through the JAPA journey to earn her degree alongside her fellow senior graduates. Her favorite class was the set building class.  Her mom, Jolie is on staff and was very proud of her daughter's accomplishments.  Nikki felt comfortable hugging me and assured me that it was not COVID restricted area. She was curious about the name of the newspaper. When she realized I worked for the SL Newser, to my surprise she knew of Mr. Bixyl Shuftan and his long-time association with Relay for Life.

Overall, the graduation ceremony was a success. It was small and quaint. Both teachers, Ms. DelaneyJeson, Mr. KlarkHarvy, and staff planned a very successful graduation for fifteen graduates.  Ms Delaney express how proud she was of everyone. She said "they have worked so hard and been so very successful with their learning and did a wonderful showcase, and all the time effort [some tears :) ]." "Klark and I make it all worth it to see them moving into the dance world with their new knowledge and confidence." The two JAPA instructors stood with pride and dignity in the auditorium as they called each graduate by name to receive their hard earned diplomas. Second Life has gained fifteen additional choreographers and arts professionals to add to the canvas of SL entertainment world. A future article with JAPA personnel will follow in the near future.


Dancerina Starlight