Nothing but talent

. June 5, 2012.

Calling Breakin’ Curfew a teen talent show is like calling the Oscars an awards show. Breakin’ Curfew is not a teen talent show; it is the teen talent show. BC’s lineup doesn’t consist of one high school’s amateur, immature acts, careening from deafening garage bands to slightly out-of-tune classical chamber ensembles, to poorly acted, goofy theatrical skits. Rather, BC’s bill is comprised of the finest teen talent, in a wide variety of genres, coming from all over Michigan. Nor is BC’s setting a dimly lit high school cafeteria, gym or auditorium with a primitive sound system. Instead, BC struts its stuff in the Power Center, one of Ann Arbor’s finest performance venues, featuring state-of-the-art lighting and sound technology.

Now in its eighth year, BC is a collaboration between the Neutral Zone, Ann Arbor’s teen center, and the University Musical Society, which, the rest of the year, presents world class music, dance and theater events. For its first few years, BC’s programs were put on by only Ann Arbor area teens. Last year they went farther afield, bringing in a few acts from Detroit schools. This year’s theme is Michigan Pride and, while Ann Arbor will be well represented, more than half the show will highlight acts from throughout the state.

And while your run-of-the-mill teen show is also often put on by peers, BC’s teen organizers, or curators, work side by side with seasoned professionals in every aspect of arts presentation – from scouting and auditioning the talent, to fundraising, promotion, marketing, ticket sales, and the technical aspects of the production. The twenty teens curating this year’s BC have been meeting since last September to shepherd the show to its successful completion.

Of course, a significant number of the more than 1200 people who yearly pack the Power Center for BC consist of friends and family of the more than one hundred performers. But the show’s predictably high quality also draws music, dance and poetry lovers who are not teens, and who share no familial or familiar bonds with anyone on stage.

This year’s lineup ranges from a solo poet, a solo tabla player, a string duo, a drum and marimba duo, a rap duo, and a brass quintet, all the way up to a couple of dance troupes, each with more than a dozen dancers, and a twenty member gospel choir.

It’s a completely professional production, the acts having received coaching during rehearsals for weeks and months before the event, and having spent the day before BC running a fully staged dress rehearsal, with sound and lighting checks run by the Power Center’s professional tech crew. There is even a pre-show V.I.P. party to help raise money for Breakin’ Curfew.

For details about this year’s BC, to be held on May 14 at 8pm, please visit www.neutral-zone.org/events/785/breakin-curfew-2010