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Wendy Raquel Robinson teaches students to act out emotions at Amazing Grace Conservatory
Wendy Raquel Robinson’s performing arts school gives South Los Angeles youth confidence through performing arts.
Wendy Raquel Robinson’s performing arts school, Amazing Grace Conservatory, will debut their 2013 summer showcase of Syndarella, a South Central Cinderella, on Aug 10.
Robinson co-founded Amazing Grace Conservatory with the late Tracy Coley in 1996 and it has since produced singers and actors including, Elle Varner, Lauren London and Isa Rae. The idea came from Robinson teaching at a performing arts school founded by the legendary Marla Gibbs. When Gibbs decided to close her school, she gave Robinson her blessing to create a school of her own.
“I remember the students saying, ‘what are we going to do, what are we going to do?’” Robinson said. “… so with [Gibb’s] blessing, me and my best friend, Tracy Coley decided to take it on.”
Amazing Grace Conservatory teaches dancing, singing, acting and chess. However, the main focus is empowering the students. Located on the corner of W. Washington Blvd. and S. Wilton Pl., Amazing Grace Conservatory’s mission is to train and develop emerging artists & at risk youth.
“I always say, ‘I don’t care if you want to be a doctor, a lawyer, an Indian chief, whatever,’” Robinson said. “You’re here to be the best you that you can be.”
Through the Amazing Grace Conservatory, the students have been able to see their personal growth, as well as their growth as a performer.
“I’ve learned to believe in myself and not let anyone bring me down,” said Adam Cravens, 11, student of Amazing Grace Conservatory for the past four years. “[The Amazing Grace Conservatory] inspires me. They never tell me that I can’t do something.”
The environment is reminiscent of a family being that many of the alumni come back and teach at Amazing Grace Conservatory, including Damen Fletcher of Train of Thought. Some of the parents of former students continue to volunteer as well. Robinson has previously worked with all of her staff members and trusts them to keep the school running even when she’s not around.
“I surrounded myself with a staff that loves the craft,” Robinson said. “Not on a superficial level, but on a very authentic level.”
Robinson also expects nothing but the best from her students. She wants her students to be able to leave Amazing Grace Conservatory and be able to compete with professionals.
“We don’t do children’s theater,” Robinson said. “We do professional theater with children.”
Throughout the years, the Amazing Grace Conservatory has been able to sustain and create productions every year. Each year it continues to grow and now, along with offering classes for students ages 8 to 18, the Amazing Grace Conservatory also offers a pre-conservatory for students ages 5 to 7.
“It’s like a circle of life that keeps getting bigger and bigger,” Robinson said.
Tickets for this year’s production are currently on sale at the Amazing Grace Conservatory, 2401 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. The summer showcase of Syndarella will be at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center on Aug. 10 at 3:00 pm. Tickets can also be purchased at the door. For more information about Amazing Grace Conservatory, visit amazinggraceconservatory.org.