The annual Express Yourself Milwaukee showcase returns to the Miller High Life Theatre, 500 W. Kilbourn Ave., on Thursday, May 9, at 6:30 p.m., with a pre-show reception at 5:30.
Founded in 2003, EXYOMKE is a local non-profit that teaches low-income and at-risk youth in Milwaukee’s central city how to express themselves in healthy, positive ways, hopefully leading to the building of inner strength and a sense of connection to others.
The theme of this year’s showcase is the Kintsugi, the Japanese tradition of mending, which will be explored via music, dance, film, visual arts and the spoken word in collaborative works created by 120 Milwaukee young people and 30 professional artists and musicians over the past year.
"This year’s theme is special because it allows us to explore a culture outside of our own, which lets us break away from any cultural tendencies or ruts that might otherwise inhibit our own improvement and creativity," says EXYOMKE’s Kevin Christensen.
"In my mind, creativity is often the most overlooked trait any adult needs to develop. Even in the most mundane of workplaces, creativity allows a team to problem solve or work more efficiently, helping an individual advance their career. Express Yourself helps foster that creativity by creating an environment where ideas and concepts can be shared freely, while encouraged with constructive criticism to create a professional-level performance."
Among the guests artists are Milwaukee native and L.A.-based filmmaker Matthew Mixon, dancer Randi Strong, "STOMP" veteran Cammie Griffin, musician B-Free and EXYOMKE alum Khalil Coleman.
"I have seen very quickly in my first year of being involved with this program that it is a crucial constant in the childhoods of many," Strong says.
"I am fortunate to be playing a small part in bringing their show to life. Isn’t that ironic? ... It’s viewed as me helping them, but the joy it brings me to dance with the students and teachers far surpasses anything I could ever give."
The event is family friendly, open to the public and free, though donations will be accepted.
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.