April 9, 2020
By Ghita Kdiry
It was March 8, the morning of LHS supervisor Ms. Klein’s big performance. After spending eight weeks in the winter participating in the Freestyle Love Supreme Academy in New York, she was ready to show off what she learned in front of an audience.
The Freestyle Love Supreme Academy is based on the Broadway show named “Freestyle Love Supreme,” which ran at the Booth Theater from Oct. 2 through Jan. 12.
After watching “Freestyle Love Supreme”—which is part rap, part comedy and all improvisation—in January, Klein said she became fascinated with the techniques she had seen the actors using in the show.
“I’ve always enjoyed performing. I like to write my own poetry and personal stories,” Klein said. “As I was watching, I was like ‘I want to do this,’ and I saw they had the academy… so I signed up that very same night.”
Every Sunday from Jan. 8 to March 1, Klein and her 11 classmates gathered at the Greenwich House Theater in New York to participate in the Freestyle Love Supreme Academy.
Over the eight weeks, Klein said the group explored improvisation skills, word flow, speaking through music and beatboxing. Klein said she learned the fundamentals of musical improvisation while feeling safe to share memories from her life experiences.
“A lot of my work has to do with my own life,” Klein said. “[The classes] taught me to use my skills to share my stories [and] get out of my comfort zone.”
Each class ran for three hours, and Klein said the cost for the entire course was $550. The culminating event was the live performance put on by the Freestyle Love Supreme Academy participants.
English teacher Ms. DiMaggio, who came to support Klein at her performance, was among those in the crowd of approximately 75 people.
“I’ve done musical improvisation for over 20 years and can tell you that it is about being part of a team and not trying to stand out from others, but instead trying to make the whole group look good,” DiMaggio said. “That being said, Ms. Klein did stand out to me. Having an English background really helped Ms. Klein, as she had clever word choices and funny rhymes and showed commitment to what she was doing.”
DiMaggio said it was rewarding to watch her perform because she could tell Klein was enjoying herself.
“I loved that Ms. Klein put herself 100 percent into what she was doing,” DiMaggio said. “From watching Ms. Klein’s performance, I learned that she can be very funny and quite a wordsmith.”
Klein said one of the challenges that made the performance especially difficult was that the audience had a major role in steering the direction of the show.
“Of course, I was nervous at first. It’s nerve-racking to perform in front of people,” Klein said. “But once I started [performing], it went smoothly.”
Klein said as part of the show, she had to randomly select from a hat a word that an audience member had written down. The word she got was “animal.”
“Naturally, I [freestyled] about my dog,” Klein said. “Personal stories drive me.”
Once participants complete the academy, they are eligible to audition for additional courses and are invited to take part in monthly rap recess sessions.
Klein said these sessions are free and take place once a month in New York. She said in light of the coronavirus pandemic, these one-hour sessions have been weekly and conducted on the virtual video conferencing app Zoom.
“We were placed in small groups and did a few different freestyle rap games,” Klein said about a rap recess session she attended last month. “[We learned] some tips for rhyming.”
Klein said she is happy she decided to participate in the Freestyle Love Supreme Academy.
“It inspired me to keep writing both poetry and prose,” said Klein.