The lowest level of the CRLS arts building is home to one of the area’s most impressive visual and performing arts programs. Performing Arts students find success, community, and lessons for life.
A student of ballet, tap, and modern dance since she was six years old, Alyssa Filerman did not expect such abundant opportunity in the performing arts program at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS). After moving to Cambridge from a nearby town, her passion was nurtured by talented dance instructors who connected her with unparalleled opportunities to dance
with students and faculty from Harvard University and the Boston Conservatory.
I spend more time in that basement than anywhere else,” says Raul Madera, a performing arts student who has acted in nearly every theatrical production staged at CRLS since his Freshman year. As he discovered his acting talents, he also discovered a community that he could turn to for advice and support.
Says Raul, “when I first got to high school, I put a shield up and didn’t want to open up to people. But when I got a part in The Addams Family, the upperclassmen took me under their wing. Now, I try to pass along the advice and support they gave me to younger students just starting out in high school.”
Embracing Their Community
Raul most recently appeared as Chino in West Side Story, a musical that explores the experience of Puerto Ricans in New York. During rehearsals, students were horrified to see the devastation caused when Hurricane Maria struck the island and felt compelled to support relief efforts.
After each performance, the students walked through the audience to collect donations. When the final curtain closed, the students had surpassed their goal of raising $5,000 for hurricane relief. This experience was just one of many in which Raul describes the connection between life onstage and the good of his community.
“In each production, it’s not about you,” he explains. “It’s like a family, where you are contributing to the production and trying to tell stories that improve your community.”
Alyssa likewise emphasizes that honing her craft at CRLS has also deepened her connection to her wider community. For instance, while her own training has been rigorous, Alyssa says that she loves dancing alongside students who have no plans to pursue dance at the college or professional level.
“There’s so much space to explore,” she says. “You find less judgment than you might experience in a private studio. For the newer students, it’s just a lot of fun. It’s so much joy!”
Setting the Stage for Their Next Act
While CRLS has produced some Academy Award winners in recent years, most students will go on to careers outside of the theater.
For Raul, a Senior who plans to pursue a business degree in college, singing and performing will always be part of his life. He will also apply the lessons he has learned wherever he goes. “Creating theater, you realize that the world is bigger than yourself. You’re part of a bigger whole.”
Alyssa, who is currently a Junior at CRLS, says she is not yet sure whether she will major in dance in college or pursue her other passion: science. She is even exploring ways to marry the two by exploring the science of tap dance in her final project for AP Physics.
The discipline and confidence required to dance have contributed to the work ethic that she brings to her academic studies. When work is challenging, she reminds herself of the value of hard work and practice.
She continues, “Whether or not I pursue a dance degree in the future, I know that I love tap dance and that’s something that I want to keep doing. Dance will be part of my life from now until… until I can’t