VAPA show rewarding challenge for collaborators

Carmel High’s annual Visual and Performing Arts Show, commonly known as the VAPA show, took place Thursday evening, and though most of the attention goes to the stage, many students and teachers would argue that the behind-the-scenes effort put into organizing and hosting the show is what truly deserves a standing ovation.

The VAPA show is a unique event in which all students of the arts, in classes ranging from Graphic Design to Chamber Choir, collaborate to create an elaborate night of entertainment that traditionally draws in crowds of local families and art fans.

A real challenge for this year’s show was the date switch due to scheduling conflicts that arose at the end of first semester and moved the show forward by two weeks.

“We weren’t expecting that, so that threw us a real curve ball,” says music teacher Brian Handley, co-chair of the VAPA department.

Ms. Bev's Art I students prepare water color wave and surfer paintings that tie into the show's west coast theme.

Ms. Bev’s Art I students prepare water color wave and surfer paintings that tie into the show’s west coast theme.

Handley, along with Kristine Tarozzi, the other department chair, have been working hard to organize the show’s theme, “Go West,” since the end of last school year, and they had to put in some extra effort after the date change.

“There [was] some stuff that we kind of [had] to pull together last minute,” Handley admits.

Fortunately, the department was already ahead in the preparation process. All of the arts teachers meet just a few weeks after every annual show to begin the next year’s planning, and by the end of the school year they finalize the next theme.

“We have to pick something that everyone can do,” says Holly Lederle, Graphic Design and Photography teacher, of the show theme. “Something that works really well for photo or graphics might not work so well for choir.”

The students themselves also have a say in the teachers’ final theme selection. Maggie Bevier, the CHS art teacher, says she gets input from her advanced students as she plans the visual portion of the show.

The concert choir students tune up their performance skills for show time.

The concert choir students tune up their performance skills for show time.

The show’s theme is not the only element that all of the art teachers and students have to work on together. Much of the performances and art displays are collaborative projects. For example, senior Natalie Sardina, an advanced Graphic Design student, spent numerous hours collaborating with Tarozzi, the dance teacher, to create animations as a backdrop for one of the dance numbers.

“I [worked] on it very late every day after school…because if you’re going to do something for this you might as well do it to the best of your ability,” Sardina says.

Similar to students like Sardina, teachers have to spend numerous hours after school to fully prepare their portions of the show. Bevier estimates that she spends between 25-40 hours after school making sure her students’ art is perfected in the months before the show.

Bevier also says she has to figure out most of her general plan for the show by the end of August when she orders supplies. Her art students have to prepare their work before the end of the first semester due to the need to format, frame and organize all the pieces.

Like many of the visual arts classes, Tarozzi has to organize her students and discuss dance numbers in December to get a head start on the show.

The other performers in the drama and music departments start practicing their parts for the show after winter break. Handley says that his musicians practice every single class day up until the show, and drama students like Cameron Poletti, who hosted this year’s show, have to work hard to create their performances.

“I put in quite a few hours preparing for the intro,” Poletti admits.

Overall, the labor by the art departments is rewarding not only for the audience that enjoys the show, but also for the art community at CHS.

“I like the VAPA kids seeing the other VAPA kids,” Tarozzi says. “It’s nice for them to work together and feel like a team.”
-Megan Holett