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Camp Brings More Than Music to Fairfield Area

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — The large building at 391 E. Washington Ave. in Bridgeport has long had music reverberating through its halls. For decades it housed Holy Rosary School and hosted practices by the choir and for school musicals.

But the music there now is much different from the Sunday hymns and Broadway standards of its school days. Now you’re more likely to hear the classical piano of Fairfield resident Jean Marseca. Down the hall you might pick up the pulsing rhythms of Angela Reid’s West African dance class. That’s because the former school is now home to Neighborhood Studios of Fairfield County.

Neighborhood Studios has run music, dance, theater and visual arts camps in Bridgeport since 1978. Today it reaches nearly 2,000 kids and adults each year. Through a deal with the Diocese of Bridgeport , it moved into its new home earlier this summer.

“Our programs have enriched the lives of tens of thousands of youth over the years, providing them with the tools that are essential to laying the groundwork for a thriving sustainable future,” says Dr. Donald Rainone, executive director.

The camp makes use of the talents around the Bridgeport and Fairfield areas. Marseca, for example, is a longstanding member of the Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra. She got involved with the studios six years ago through her son Robbie, who was teaching guitar at Neighborhood Studios.

Neighborhood Studios camps don’t just help kids foster their artistic passions. They help them become better students in other disciplines as well. Rainone points to the fact that the studios's kids have higher graduation and college acceptance rates than their peers. Michael Gill’s company, Economy Fuel , sponsors the organization’s Ailey Camp for Dance. Gill said the all-around aspect of the program drew his support.

“What they do for these guys is not just music instruction or dance instruction,” Gill says. “They’re really life coaches.”

You can see the results of Neighborhood Studio’s lessons throughout August in a series of free shows. Camp Hart, the theater group, will perform an original play Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 2 p.m. in Neighborhood Studios’s performance center. The NFSC Conservatory, which focuses on arts-related job training for teens, will exhibit its students’ artwork at the City Lights Gallery, 37 Markle Court in Bridgeport, on Aug. 9 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Ailey Camp will put on a production featuring its full range of dance styles on Aug. 10, starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Klein Auditorium on Fairfield Avenue.

The Conservatory camp will bring it all together for the Music, Dance and Theatre Variety Show to end the summer. The Downtown Cabaret Theatre (263 Golden Hill St., Bridgeport) will host the two performances on Aug. 16 and 17 starting at 7 p.m. Tickets for the show are $12 at the door.

Do you know of other interesting camps in the Fairfield area? Send information to gcanuel@thedailyfairfield.com or tell us about them in the comments below.

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