Last week Hinton Battle was in town for a performance with YoungArts Miami as he is a Multidisciplinary Performance Director who loves working with the children whenever he has the chance. His schedule may be crazy – you know traveling all over the world performing, but we got the chance to interview him about his role with YoungArts Miami.
Check out the interview below –
Being so accomplished in your field, I’m positive you understand the importance of a strong support system at a younger age. What is YoungArts doing correctly that is helping these young artists excel in their craft?
Well, they’re reaching out. They’re reaching out to the community where these young artists are thriving. I mean, this is high school! And letting the kids know there’s an institution out there supporting them and that wants them to succeed. It’s great that they have that. I don’t remember that that was around when I was around.
What long-term influence does being a YoungArts alumnus have on an artist’s career path? What doors does it help open?
Well, the fact that you are being presented to audiences that come see you. They create so many wonderful opportunities for a young artist that can help them go forward in their career. It’s vital to one’s career, I think, to be seen and presented by such a wonderful organization.
The talent that all of these young artists have is astonishing! How would the talent today compare to the talent back when you were first starting? What would you say this is attributed to?
You have to remember that the talent that is is built on the talent that was. So if you’re a young kid and you’re looking at someone that was incredible in his or her time, you want to hit that mark and be even better. It just keeps improving. And I think, also, the availability of teachers and their quality of teaching great students has improved. So I think that contributes a lot to where we are in our arts today. And not only do we need more arts, but more of the arts that are already here.
In this day and age, how important is cross-collaboration between different artistic mediums? How do you feel YoungArts encourages this sort of collaboration?
I think it’s very important. You never know what’s going to inspire you to breed something new, something different. So collaboration is extremely important. It’s great that YoungArts gives the young performers the chance to see pieces not in their field to be inspired by, to want to go and create something from it. So they have a wonderful opportunity there.
Finally, how did you first get involved with YoungArts, and what impact has it had on YOUR career?
Well, I first got involved when Debbie Allen did the national in Washington DC and asked me to be her associate director. And course, I said yes. I love Debbie. We work together all the time. And I had such a wonderful experience. The kids were fantastic, the show was great, and we had Wally who was our musical director. The crew and the whole team were great. You know, I thought it was the end of it after that event. And then I got a phone call asking if I wanted to direct in February, and Debbie gave me her blessings, and here we are today.
Hinton Battle is a three-time Tony Award winner, recognized as one of Broadway’s most respected musical stars. After studying at the renowned Jones Haywood School of Ballet in Washington D.C. and School of American Ballet in New York City. Hinton began his career on stage at the age of 15, as the Scarecrow in the Broadway production of The Wiz. He has since gone on to build an impressive portfolio of work, dazzling audiences across the country and around the world for over three decades, starring in some of the most memorable musicals, including Dancin, Dreamgirls, Sophisticated Ladies, Chicago (Billy Flynn), Ragtime (Coalhouse Walker Jr.), Miss Saigon and The Tap Dance Kid. He is the recipient of numerous awards honoring his versatility as an entertainer, among them the NAACP Image Award, Midtown International Theatre Festival Award, Fred Astaire Award, Ira Aldridge Award, the Choreographer Media Honors, Planet Connection Award, the 2012 Champion of the Arts Award from Big Boi’s Antwan Patten Big Kidz Foundation, and the Amas 2014 Rosie Award for lifetime achievement in recognition of extraordinary accomplishment in theatrical arts.