Neighborhood Studios Part 1: Knowledge

Neighborhood Studios is a journey through the arts and beyond. The experience you have and the people you meet have a lasting impact. As one apprentice told us,

“Six weeks can change your life if you let it, and when those six weeks are over, you can still utilize the people you met and the skills you gained, in every aspect of your life.”

We’re kicking off a blog series to share the journeys of people who have participated in Neighborhood Studios, the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s summer teen apprentice program. Each one of their stories is a different perspective on the way this program can shape you and prepare you for your future career, college, and a life that’s connected to the arts. Each post will highlight a specific skill they gained or growth they experienced as an apprentice, as a teacher, or as a staff member. Stay tuned for posts on gaining perspective, independence, self-expression and more.

Today we’ll meet Brandon Couloute, a former Neighborhood Studios apprentice who has come back to Neighborhood Studios as an adult to choreograph Hartford Stage’s Breakdancing Shakespeare.


Guest Blogger: Brandon Couloute, Neighborhood Studios Apprentice (2009 – 2012) Neighborhood Studios choreographer (2013-2015)

It’s the summer of 2009 and I’m taking my first steps into the Breakdancing Shakespeare rehearsal studio. I keep telling myself I’m not nervous but the truth is my heart is beating so loudly I thought the other apprentices in the room would notice. I loved to breakdance, but at this point I know there is still a lot to learn about acting, performing, and how things work in the theatre. I’m worried about not knowing something that I thought everyone else would know already. Even though I am, I can’t look like a complete newbie. However, as the first week came to an end I realize that its not about the knowledge I came in with, it’s about the knowledge I acquire throughout the rehearsal process. It was this knowledge that prepared me for my career in the arts as well as my higher education.

Breakdancing Shakespeare exposed me to a wide range of material that broadened my knowledge. One day we focused on stage combat, the next some voice work. I can’t forget the  reading comprehension, financial literacy, analysis of classic texts, and of course how to breakdance. By the time I started college I had finished my third year of the program and had applied all the information I gathered to the real world. I decided to minor in theatre in college and I had booked my first dance gig as a teacher at a dance studio. Knowing how to run a class and form a routine helped me in me at work and having some firsthand experience in acting and how the theatre works helped me in school.

Fast forward to today. I am still learning and continuing to build on the foundation that Breakdancing Shakespeare and Neighborhood Studios gave me. Whenever I teach a class or need to choreograph a show I’m thinking of all the information I learned over the years. I believe it is crucial that young artists be around other young artists. I’m grateful to Neighborhood Studios for not just bringing young artists together, but for teaching and guiding them at the same time. Giving them the power and tools needed to not just survive in the world, but to thrive.


Experience Neighborhood Studios for Yourself!

Visit the Greater Hartford Arts Council website for more information about how you can apply to become a Neighborhood Studios apprentice in 2016!

Apprentices must be between the ages of 14-18 and reside in the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s 34-town service area. Additional eligibility requirements are listed in the Apprentice Guidelines. Neighborhood Studios applications are due by April 29, 2016. Apprentices will be selected and notified by the end of May.



Part 2: Read about Molly finding Independence through Neighborhood Studios.

Part 3: Read about how Stacey witnessed Self-expression and Self-reflection in the Amistad  Center’s SNAP! Photography studio.

Part 4: Find out how Poppy gained Perspective while participating in the Mark Twain House’s Write to the Point studio.

Part 5: Learn why Sten’s most important Neighborhood Studios experience was all about the Truth.

Part 6: See how Daisy built a connection with her audience while Performing in Breakdancing Shakespeare at Hartford Stage’s Neighborhood Studio.


About Neighborhood Studios:

Neighborhood Studios, the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s award-winning, nationally recognized summer arts apprenticeship program, will enter its 18th season when it kicks off in June 2016. The six-week summer program provides area teenagers between ages 14 – 18  with an immersive, hands-on education in the arts, as well as career-skills training

The experience of Neighborhood Studios aligns with the Common Core’s description of students who are college and career ready in Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, & Language. Additionally, all Neighborhood Studios align their work with the Common Core State Standards as well as the National Core Arts Standards.