By Jose Herrera
Signal Staff Writer
Visitors of the Westfield Valencia Town Center can hear, then see, a new addition to the already bustling environment as Santa Clarita Music and Dance Collaborative opens its doors.
Members of the Innovation Show Choir, a youth performing ensemble, hosted their grand opening celebration last weekend for their 3,511-square-foot studio, which will serve as the main location for the choir’s practice and their other ensembles – including a teen/adult choir for individuals with special needs and their Songbirds program for children ages 4-8.
Organizers played music, offered prizes, featured a red-carpet photo opportunity, a live DJ, refreshments and special performances by the choir and soloists.
“In the past, we had reserved at the Greenwood Music Studios, we rented out a small little room, and our kids had to rehearse there,” said Lydia Saxton, co-founder and artistic director of the Innovation Show Choir. “Every week I had to bring all my equipment in and then take it out. Now we have an actual studio.”
According to Saxton, the town center offers a leasing program for nonprofits that enables them to rent out space for less than what it would normally cost. She added that their studio location is wonderful because there’s a lot of foot traffic.
“People come in and out with flyers, or people stop by wanting to know who we are and what we do,” Saxton said.
The thing that distinguishes the Innovation Show Choir from other choirs is its mobility, Saxton said. Her students perform throughout the Santa Clarita Valley for nonprofit organizations. They will perform with the Boys and Girls Club of the SCV, at the upcoming Light Up Main Street in Old Town Newhall on Nov. 17, and other performances.
Birdie West DeFreitas, 12, sang a solo from “Hamilton” for the grand opening celebration. She has participated with Innovation Show Choir for many years.
“I’ve learned some warm-ups which have been helpful with auditions and I’ve met all these wonderful people,” DeFreitas said. “It’s a great place to be. I love everybody in this choir.”
Katrina Childs-Muller, co-founder and choreographer of Innovation Show Choir, said she teaches at multiple studios. In her “heart of hearts,” she always assumed they would rent studio spaces because they’re everywhere.
However, after hearing about the town center’s incentive program, she and Saxton knew they had the opportunity to find the choir a forever home.
She added they will to use their studio to further their work in teaching their students about dance, music and show production. They will also encourage more people of different backgrounds to pursue their passion for art.
“We have great ideas,” Childs-Muller said. “We want to do musicals once a year. We want to do a musical where it’s double cast with adults, teens and kids with special needs. We want them to help each other on stage and perform.”