Express Yourself Milwaukee – a nonprofit founded in 2003 to provide at-risk young Milwaukeeans with the tools required for self-expression – hosts its annual showcase performance Thursday, May 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Miller High Life Theatre, 500 W. Kilbourn Ave.
Among the special guests at this year’s performance are Speech, the Grammy-winning co-founder of hip-hop group Arrested Development; dancer Cammie Griffin, who recently toured Australia with Lost and Found Orchestra is about to travel to China with a production of "Stomp"; dancer Justin Myles, who recently performed in the Off-Broadway production of "Tap Dogs" and has toured with "Stomp"; and Milwaukee hip-hop artist, Klassik.
"Express Yourself Milwaukee is all about putting the creative power and confidence back into youth," said Klassik. "That just perfectly aligns with my mission as an artist: to be able to use my platform and my gifts to inspire others, especially youth, to live a life with passion. EXYO is doing exactly that."
The 150 youth performers at the show (plus 30 adult artists and musicians) – which this year is called "MOVE IT!" – are members of Express Yourself’s year-long multi-disciplinary arts program and embraces music, spoken word, visual arts and dance.
"We chose the theme of MOVE IT! this year because Express Yourself (EXYOMKE) moved, relocating our studio and offices to the Running Rebels Building on 14th and Fond du Lac – but on a deeper level it is through movement – dancing, drumming, painting, singing – that we change the patterns of traumatic reactions on a physical, emotional and spiritual level," said EXYOMKE Founder and Executive Director Lori Vance.
"EXYO has always worked to bridge youth from challenges to opportunity; and healing comes when we engage in creative activity. When we do it collaboratively, the barriers to change break down and things move allowing the true gifts we each have to shine.
"This year the multi-faceted dimensions of MOVE IT! have made us aware of the behind-the-scenes movement necessary for things to happen, the broader rhythms and cycles that keep returning and the abrupt changes that happen in crisis, realigning each of us with what truly matters. Our show MOVE IT! will take the audience on such a journey celebrating what happens when we MOVE IT together!"
Express Yourself Milwaukee Music Director – and De La Buena founder – David Wake added, "The ongoing dedication of EXYOMKE to help young people realize that there are alternatives out there to find hope and bring unity to our community, never ceases to amaze me. I am so proud to bare witness time and again as desperate stories of division and disenfranchisement make way to real examples of togetherness through the healing power of art."
The show is free and open to all, but donations are accepted and surely encouraged.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.