Paso Nuevo is an established and acclaimed community-based performance arts program which provides low-income and at-risk Latino youth with critical life and job skills in a creative,
bilingual environment. Through Paso Nuevo, Latino youth ages 12-19 have a safe space in which to explore and take pride in their linguistic and cultural heritage, improve literacy and
communication skills in both English and Spanish, discover their creative voice, gain valuable academic and job skills, and develop the tools necessary to engage more successfully in
their schools and communities. The Paso Nuevo program is effective: teens who complete the Paso Nuevo program graduate high school at a 15-20% higher rate than their peers outside
The program is divided into three program cycles per year: fall, spring, and summer. During each session, approximately 25 students receive acting and technical
theater training, study the works of renowned Hispanic authors, create and write their own original pieces (short plays, skits, monologues poems, and songs), and perform them for the
public on GALA’s main stage. All classes are conducted bilingually, with a focus on retaining and developing the Spanish-language skills of Latino youth while improving their
confidence and dexterity with the English language. Through the program, students strengthen their academic skills in the areas of vocabulary building, reading comprehension, creative
writing, memorization, pronunciation and public speaking. They also enhance their Hispanic cultural literacy skills and knowedge of history, literature, and dramaturgy. Exercises in
teamwork, cooperative decision-making, and problem-solving enhance the participants’ self esteem and ability to resolve conflicts and compete in an academic environment or job market.
Each Paso Nuevo session culminates in a public presentation attended by families, friends, school staff, artists, city officials, press, and the general public,
reaching a potential audience of 750. Participants have the opportunity to perform and also to run lights and sound, work backstage, and design and disseminate publicity. All Paso
Nuevo participants receive small stipends for performing in the public presentations, which are followed by an open discussion program in which the audience, youth participants,
instructors, and performing arts experts can exchange ideas and reactions to the different themes raised in the pieces, such as education, immigration, inter-generational
communication, and cross-cultural understanding.
Students that are interested in the musical performing arts but not in the theatrical performing arts can join the Paso Nuevo band, EsLatin. EsLatin is a six-piece
band that includes two vocalists, a bass guitarist, a keyboard player, and a drummer. This past spring, EsLatin produced their own six-song demo CD, which is also the first
youth-produced CD ever recorded in Columbia Heights. EsLatin’s original Latin pop, rock, and ballad songs are sung mostly in Spanish, and speak to the key interests and concerns of
Latino teenagers in the District of Columbia: love, friendship, working-class life, and activism. EsLatin is open to additional enrollment in 2012-13.
For more information, contact Quique Aviles at Quique.email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org