Cavetown Underground culminates three years of work creating RiverStars Performing Arts, which is made possible by funding from the Oregon Community Foundation’s visionary Studio to School program. Students are dancing up a storm to tell a tale about the place they live in based on the Greek myth of Orpheus and Euridice. We feature two stunning and gifted young performers who have been acting and dancing in the valley for the past 5 years, Na’amah Ocean as Euridice and Isadora Millay as Orpheus. The young lover’s story sets up a tale of epic tragedy and forewarning that contains useful metaphor for our potential, good and bad, in the Illinois Valley. More than 40 other youth and community members take to the stage to bring the myth alive with cinematic dancing and acting.
RiverStars Performing Arts annually produces two original plays, a holiday piece in the winter, and a version of ‘Our Town’ in the Spring referred to as ‘Cavetown.’ This original work frames important discourse about our place in Southern Oregon, and both reflects and shapes our culture. We seek to empower the 50+ youth in our program to imagine, create and share their own stories, dreams and visions for the valley. This year, the Hadestown soundtrack by Anais Mitchell has provided cathartic lyrics for the children to probe their current condition in the world. Cavetown Underground is also an excellent example of effective arts integration, where a classic Greek tale, found in state learning standards, is told and understood through the arts.
Cavetown Underground marks the end of Gina Angelique’s tenure as Lead Educator for RiverStars. While Angelique works with ‘circular leadership,’ empowering all RiverStars teachers with leadership opportunities, she designed the original programming which includes sequential arts, enrichment, arts integration and pedagogy, as well as the social justice component that is the trademark of RiverStars works. Angelique was the founding Artistic Director of San Diego’s Eveoke Dance Theatre and now directs the articultural programming of dancefarm.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity the Oregon Community Foundation has given the Illinois Valley to create a sustainable, high quality arts program for all our kids. I remain optimistic that we can sustain what is fast becoming a beloved asset to our valley. Working with the RiverStars kids has been wholly fulfilling, and they remind me everyday how all our choices as a society affect our children. I could not be more thrilled to pass the Lead Educator role to Ms. Gillette, who is a gifted teacher and fierce advocate for the arts.”
Lindsey Gillette, a powerful proponent of community cooperation and unity will take on the Lead Educator role. Gillette, an accomplished performer and teaching artist, also works for Healthy U and is on the Cave Junction City Council. “The work we do in RiverStars gives the children of the Illinois Valley a voice. Often, we as adults assume what it’s like to be a kid here in the valley or we are prescriptive to what we think kids here need. I hit a sharp learning curve when I started interacting with these kids. I realized that I just needed to listen and they would tell me what they needed. Truthfully, they teach me. They give me hope.”
Friday night’s opening performance of Cavetown Underground will be followed by a gratitude reception for all who have helped create RiverStars Performing Arts including our partners Three Rivers School District, Illinois Valley Community Development Organization and dancefarm. Cake will be shared and recognition awards will be given to RiverStars supporters. Saturday night’s performance will be followed by a talkback with the audience. Student performers will answer questions from audience members and share anecdotes about what the rehearsal process is like and what being in RiverStars means to them. Follow RiverStars Performing Arts on Facebook.com/IVRiverStars.