What is the Teen Reviewers and Critics program?
The Teen Reviewers and Critics (or TRaC) program is your golden ticket to the NYC arts world. Recognized for in 2011 & 2012 as a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (NAHYP) Finalist, TRaC is a nationally recognized, FREE opportunity for adventurous high school students from all over New York and New Jersey to go deep into NYC's vibrant film, theater, music, visual arts, dance and performance scenes.
Singer/songwriter VALERIE JUNE visits a TRaC workshop to discuss her "Moonshine Music" and play a song.
What do you do in TRaC?
Over ten weeks, participants travel together to see at least SEVEN hand-picked shows and exhibitions at different venues, in different boroughs and neighborhoods. You'll meet professional artists, playwrights, musicians, writers and critics, and hear how they live, think and work. You'll write about what you see/hear/experience. In weekly workshops, you'll learn the language of each art discipline, debate your tastes with peers, chat with visiting artists, and write and workshop 200 - 400 word reviews. Your best work will be published in High 5's online newspaper, The High 5 Review, and may be featured in our weekly email newsletter, which goes out to thousands of New Yorkers. In addition, Teen Reviewers and Critics also get their pick of shows on the High 5 event calendar. That is, a pair of tickets, FREE, whenever you want them, up until your 19th birthday. It's the gift that keeps on giving....
How do I qualify for TRaC?
All high school students with a passion for writing and the arts are eligible for TRaC. Writers of all levels will be considered. The most important qualifications are dependability, enthusiam, and an open mind.
What if I'm not in high school yet?
If you're not quite in high school yet, join our Freelancers Corps and start writing independently for High 5! We'll publish your reviews and you'll be a shoe-in to TRaC when you become eligible.
Where do TRaC applicants come from?
Every year we have new TRaC participants from all five NYC boroughs, from New Jersey, from Long Island, from Westchester County. Over the summer, they've come from as far as North Carolina, Florida and even France. There's always a mix of people from public schools, private schools, vocational schools, alternative schools and few who are home schooled.
How many people are accepted into TRaC?
About 70. We keep the class size small (12 people max per class) so everyone can be involved, have their voice heard, and receive individual attention from the instructors.
Does TRaC cost anything?
Nope. TRaC is COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE! You'll need some pocket cash pay for your transportation, snacks and an occasional dinner on the go, but that's it.
How often -- and where -- do the Teen Reviewers meet?
There are 8 workshops and 5 arts outings in every TRaC section. All workshops are held from 4:30-6:30, in mid-town Manhattan. Typically, the 5 performances and shows for Theater, Dance, Music and Multi TRaC are in the evening immediately following workshops or on weekends. Visual Arts and Film TRaC will have extended workshop hours on event days, or will meet on a Saturday. One or two art outings may be in Brooklyn or Queens, however, to make it possible for everyone to attend, shows are primarily in Manhattan. In addition to the workshops and shows, there is a TRaC Kick-Off event for all participants and a culminating TRaC Finale that friends and family are welcome to attend.
Is there TRaC during another part of the year?
We go all year round. Spring sessions typcially begin in late February. Fall sessions begin in mid-October. And our new Summer Intensive takes place in July.
Which TRaC is right for me?
Well, that depends on you! Many times painters will take Visual Arts TRaC and musicians will take Music TRaC, as you'd expect. However, some of the most rewarding experiences (as we've heard from TRaC grads) have occurred when people venture into uncharted territory. We encourage people to experiment. Try the class you know the least about. No matter what you choose, you are guaranteed to go somewhere and see something you've never seen before.
What if I don't know much about the TRaC art discipline I want to apply for?
No problem. No experience necessary. There is always a diverse level of experience in every TRaC workshop. People who've never attended a downtown dance performance sitting next to a peer with an extensive modern, tap and salsa background. We believe when people with all kinds of experience see work together, everyone learns from each other. So don't worry if you've never been to an art gallery or never been to a downtown dance performance space to see performance art. After TRaC, you will have!
I have a lot of school work and a tight schedule. Do I have time for TRaC?
TRaC is definitely a time commitment and you need to figure out if you can make it work for you. Here's what you can expect: Weekly workshop meetings last two hours. The five art outings are approximately two and a half hour commitments, depending on the performance or exhibition. We typically schedule the outings to fall on the same day as class or on a weekend so they don't conflict with other things in your weekly schedule. You will be asked to write approximately 350 - 500 words about each of the performances. (To give you an idea, this paragraph is just about 200 words, so it's really not that much!) Other weeks you may be revising your work, or helping out someone else with theirs. There isn't writing due every week, and truth be told, we've never had anyone tell us that there was more writing than they could keep up with. We've had students juggling college applications, SAT prep, varsity sports, school newspaper duties, music lessons and after-school jobs fit TRaC into their schedule just fine.
What are examples of the kinds of events TRaC goes to?
Participants have attended and reviewed performances from Broadway to BAM (the Brooklyn Academy of Music), Carnegie Hall to Symphony Space, The New Museum to PS 122, and exhibitions from The Earth Room to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Deitch Projects. Participants have also had technical tours of New York Theatre Workshop, New York City Ballet, Vivian Beaumont Theatre, Dance Theater Workshop, as well as pre- and post-performance interview opportunities with many performers, curators, writers, managers and divas. Guest speakers have included New York Times theatre critic Ben Brantley, clarinetist Don Byron, dancer/choreographer Cynthia Oliver, New York Times cultural critic Margo Jefferson, Time Out NY dance editor Gia Kourlas, artist/Brooklyn Rail editor Phong Bui, documentary filmmaker Kelly Anderson, and Newsday theatre critic Linda Winer, among many others.
What happens to the reviews we write?
Selected TRaC and Freelancer reviews are featured in our weekly newsletter to offer other High 5 users insights and suggestions about some of our offerings. We officially launched our online newspaper, THE HIGH 5 REVIEW, last year. Currently, we feature interviews and reviews with author bios. Check out the latest work and features on THE HIGH 5 REVIEW.
What do I get for finishing TRaC? Anything?
Are you saying free shows, awesome people and published writing isn't enough?? Okay, then. Every TRaC graduate is invited to the TRaC Finale, a celebratory event attended by all the TRaC participants. Friends and family are also invited. TRaC grads also receive a certificate and UNLIMITED FREE High 5 tickets until your 19th birthday. After that, you'll have to become the mentor and start bringing someone between else between 13 and 18 to be your guest and get you your tickets! You pass on what you have learned. It's the way this great adventure called art (life) keeps evolving....
Does TRaC help build my resume for college?
Of course it does. First of all, TRaC is a selective program that only admits about 200 students over the year. You will receive a certificate, which can be submitted with your college applications, along with all of your published work. Colleges are always looking for students who take initiative and have expanded interests beyond the usual same old extracurricular clubs and sports. We know for a fact that many students have cited their TRaC experience in their college essays, in applications for other arts programs and internships, which illustrates the strong impact TRaC has had on those who do it.
Will this help me become a professional critic?
There no guarantees, but graduates of High 5's TRaC program have gone on to write for and edit their college newspapers. Some enterprising graduates have found work as professional freelancers for New York City newspapers, public relations companies, as columnists for local papers and content providers for various arts related websites. You're also building your professional network when you meet the artists and critics who visit the program, not to mention your instructor, who's a professional in the field. These are people you will know for life!
What's the difference between joining TRaC and being a Freelancer?
TRaC is a structured after school program that high school students must apply for: groups of 12 young people are lead by an instructor through the New York arts scene and work together to uncover its secrets. Writers in the Freelancer Corps work independently: Freelancers choose and review their own events independently for publication on our website. If you're interested in become a High 5 Freelancer, please visit the HIGH 5 REVIEW to learn more. Anyone 13 - 18 years old can join!
Okay, I'm ready. How do I apply for TRaC?
Fill out the application online. Read it over carefully and order your TRaC preferences. We'll try to get you your first or second choice. The application includes a few short essay questions and asks you to provide contact info for a recommending teacher. All potential candidates will also come in for a short group interview with the TRaC Director and other applicants. If for some reason we are unable to accommodate you in a TRaC class this season, you'll be offered first dibs on a TRaC class in the upcoming season. We try aim to accommodate everyone who wants to be here. Remember, the earlier you apply, the better your odds of getting your first choice!
Wait! I have many more questions. Where can I ask them??
Funny you should ask. In the Fall and Spring we invite TRaC graduates and instructors to speak about their past experiences at the TRaC Open House. Check out the TRaC Homepage to see if an Open House is coming up in the near future and RSVP. If you need immediate help, feel free to contact Diane Exavier, TRaC Program Director, at 212-453-9485 or email@example.com