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Express Yourself Milwaukee Celebrates Community & the Arts with 'Soul'

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Express Yourself MKE
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Express Yourself Milwaukee has been part of Milwaukee's arts education scene since 2003.  The group works with area kids that are out of the mainstream education system. In partnership with Running Rebels, the organization also engages with kids through arts activities, from drumming and dancing to visual arts and  music.

Every year, Express Yourself participants present a one-night performance that shows off the work they’ve been doing all year.  This year’s performance, called Soul, takes place at the Milwaukee Theater Thursday evening and it’s free to the public.

Since 2009, dancer Cammie Griffin has joined the group to choreograph and perform.  In fact, Griffin arranges her tour schedule as a member of the cast of Stomp so that she can be part of the event.

She finds that as much as the kids are energized by working with her, Griffin finds it just as satisfying to learn from them. "It also helps knowing that it wasn't just me who put in the work to create the routines for the kids," she says. "We all collaborate together, and it makes them feel like they're a part of something."

Express Yourself Milwaukee founder and executive director Lori Vance says that this concert is a culmination of not only a year's worth of hard work done by the kids, but of the organization's mission.

"I feel like our work together is really just another layer of that collaboration that puts out positive energy in the world," she says. "'Brand New Day' is that celebration of being in a community. When that came out it just felt like, 'Yeah! We have to just be who we are and celebrate that,' because that's what we have."

Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.