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Four Benefits of Performing Arts

performing arts dancer on stage in up with peopleThe performing arts have always been a topic of discussion when it comes to their correlation within the education system. The benefits, however, go beyond playing a challenging role on stage or having fun with friends. Performing arts develop a person’s life skills on a physical, mental, and emotional level.

Here are four skills you can develop through the power of performing arts.

  1. You’ll build creative self-expression

Every person is unique. We are individuals with a story to tell and everyone needs to be able to express that. Performing arts provides a creative approach to do exactly that. These soft skills you will build through performance will follow you throughout your life as you move on into higher education and in your career.

  1. Confidence

Whether it is through improvisation or stepping outside of your comfort zone by being on stage, performance helps build self-confidence by putting yourself into new situations you may not have otherwise had to navigate. You will think outside of the box while facing your fears of public speaking or receiving constructive feedback. You will also  build confidence through positive reinforcement of an audience after a performance.

  1. drummer on stage up with peopleQuick-Thinking Skills

Thinking on your feet is an incredibly helpful skill in life that can be developed through performing arts. You may find yourself having to answer problems or build upon new scenarios you may not have seen coming. In the theatre or any other type of performing arts, things can go wrong and you’ll want to make sure you can be prepared for any type of difficulty that may come your way.

  1. Collaboration

While performing arts can be a one-person show, the reality is that most often it isn’t. You still have someone that will need to run the technical side of things while you perform on stage. If you are performing alongside someone on stage, you will have to learn how to work with many different types of people. While performing abroad in Up with People, you will be on stage with more than 100 different individuals from all around the world. You will quickly learn what it means to collaborate.

“When you call I’ll be there
You don’t have to stand alone
Voices of the world
We can do much more
Come together and rise up”

Rise Up! © Up with People

Arts As A Social Change Agent: The Art In My Heart

In honor of National Arts In Education Week Coming Up September 9 – 15; Guest post from Walter Belcher, Director of Camp Up with People, Co-Director of Up with People Jr. and Show Director of Up with People

As a professional actor, singer, and director – coupled with being an alumnus of Up with People and working with AmeriCorps – an ‘artist activist’ is a large part of who I am.

While the concept of using the arts as a tool for social justice is not a new concept, using the arts to address injustice that spans the globe is a major part of my life today.

When we think of ways to spark social change, we normally think of legislative changes, laws, petitions, etc. We think of political activism as the primary method. We also use community service to make a dent in the numerous social challenges our society faces, often overlooking the value of the arts.

We forget that the arts can spark these changes as well.

“The arts can unassumingly provide us with new ways of thinking without making us defensive.”

The arts can be used as a way for us to interrogate our current beliefs, spark new ideas and critically examine ourselves and the world we live in. We seldom think about the arts and the invaluable role they can play in breaking social barriers and bridging socially constructed differences. Using the arts as a tool for social justice, encompasses a wide range of visual and performing arts that are specifically created to raise critical consciousness, build community, and motivate individuals to promote social change. The arts have been an agent for change in many ways.

An inspirational anthem of the civil rights movement in the 60’s, “We Shall Overcome” continues to fuel a movement against discrimination. Broadway continues to artistically use the theatre to address unpopular subjects head on. Sitcoms such as Will and Grace, and reality shows like Ru Paul’s Drag Race have been raising awareness, and promoting healthy family dinner debates since they first aired.

Flashy flash mobs have been choreographed to interrupt “business as usual.” The arts allow us to be entertained while being informed. Even globally, Hollywood blockbusters such as Black Panther and The Greatest Showman poignantly demonstrate the power of art in pride, affirmation, representation and belonging. The arts have always given us permission to laugh, to cry, to look inward and to begin to discuss outwardly. Maya Angelou left us with literary art that challenges and inspires. Whether visual arts or performing arts, the arts allow us to have difficult conversations that may not be easy or popular.

As seen through the Up with People show, the arts transcend language, unify cultures, build communities, and create connections on an emotional level. The arts communicate our shared humanity, while challenging us to evaluate our normative behaviors. The arts bring us together, yet challenge us, our community, and even the world.

“If more people were for people… there’d be a lot less people to worry about and a lot more people who care”

Show Premiere: How We Create Music that Matters

Music has the power to evoke emotion, bring us together and inspire action. That’s why, for the past 53 years, Up with People has used music as a universal language to lead people toward positive change. To do so, our shows need to express a powerful message, but many people don’t know what goes into creating that message.

“The magic isn’t the person holding the microphone, it’s the tangible power of people from 20 different countries standing behind them singing the same message,” says Eric Lentz, Senior Vice President of Up with People. The message we convey in our show needs to cross geographical, cultural, and religious boundaries.

Up with People’s will be premiering the new rundown for ‘Live On Tour 2018’ this Friday August, 24 in Denver, CO. The Live On Tour 2018 production focuses on our shared hopes for a better tomorrow. Details and tickets can be found here:


At Up with People, we understand our world is ever-changing and that our production needs to change with it. That’s why having knowledge of current events, societal concerns, and understanding what is and isn’t resonating with people is vitally important to what we do. In order to create the best show possible, we need the help of others, which is why we look to three resources.


It is important that we stay up-to-date with world conditions and events because our mission at each city we visit is to cater not only to the physical but the emotional needs of the people there. For example, in Mexico, we decided to sing “Cielito Lindo,” translated to mean “Sing and Don’t Cry,” a song sung when first responders found someone after the earthquake. It was our way of speaking to the hearts of the Mexican people after a tragedy.

We also change the language of each performance depending on the country we are in. That’s not to say that every song is sung in the native language, but the introduction and messaging between songs is presented by a native cast member. We want to make sure that our audience easily understands our message.


Our cast members play a big part in the creation of our shows. Not all of the individuals who tour with Up with People come from a performing arts background, but they all want to make a difference in the world. That’s why their help in crafting the message behind our shows is so important. Their feedback is valuable and unlike any other, because they spend the entire tour fully immersed in the culture of the country they are in through their time spent with a host family. They can see and feel when a certain message resonates with a particular audience. Perhaps, while volunteering with locals, they learn about new issues facing this population.

So, we ask our cast to gather objective feedback from others and tell us what they think about the shows as well. We want to know which songs they connect with, and which they didn’t.


Well-known singers and songwriters can use their fame to reach an audience of millions. That’s why we listen to prominent names all over the world who are addressing significant issues in their lyrics and reaching young audiences. For example, in 2017 the Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen” struck a chord with audiences and critics and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. A powerful work of art about the struggle to connect, the show deals with mental health and family life in a moving, contemporary way.

We listen to the style of the song. Is it rock or pop? Is it upbeat or more like a ballad? Then, we take our observations and create a song list that caters to what youth are listening and reacting to. We believe it is the best way to ensure our message is resonating with our audience.  

We understand that the world is ever-evolving, but we also know that the need for positive change is persistent. Together, we will continue spreading hope to the world.


Music and Mental Health: A Powerful Force For Social Change

Music is, has been, and always will be a powerful social change agent. Music has long been used by movements seeking social change because it speaks to everyone. It’s the universal language that can inspire and be the voice that gets through even the thickest of walls. When problem solvers get together, music often plays a role in their strategic solutions. Music has the ability to expand our horizons and open our minds to new ideas.

May marks Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. The purpose of this social movement is to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illness and mental health. Additionally, Mental Health Awareness Month strives to reduce the negative attitudes and misconceptions that surround mental illness.

Up with People believes music has a role to play in addressing these often times under-discussed mental health issues. Roller Coaster (Won’t Let You Go) is a song featured in Up with People’s current production and addresses the issue of mental health with lyrics like:

Sometimes I feel lonely in a crowd
Sometimes I stay silent though my mind is calling out
Sometimes I feel so up I am sky high
Then I plummet down below ground, I get lost inside

Listen to the full song here.

Up with People isn’t the only non-profit that believes in the power of music to affect social change. To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide and provide valuable resources for those struggling with mental health issues. One of those powerful tools in this mission is music.

TWLOHA Music and Events Coordinator Chad Moses explains:

“Ever since To Write Love on Her Arms began 12 years ago, music has been central to our message and growth. This really wasn’t a calculated decision or a result of marketing focus groups, it just felt simple. The hope has always been to meet people where they naturally come together, and it turns out that music provides an incredible common ground. Think for a moment about your favorite artist, or album, or song. It is likely your favorite because you relate to it on some level, because at some point of interacting with that musician or song you feel heard, or seen, or less alone. Music reminds us that there are things in life worth singing about, worth screaming about, worth dancing about, and worth sharing with other people. That last bit is what is most important. Your life, like your favorite song, deserves an audience – deserves other people. We would encourage a continuation of that sharing. Depression, addiction, self-injury, suicide, anxiety, and eating disorders have a way of convincing us that we have waived our right to interpersonal connection; but Music can serve as a counterpoint. We encourage people to lean into music to be reminded that dissonance can be resolved, and that there is beauty in a change of tempo. Music reminds us that Rests are important. Music, like your life, increases in value when it is shared, when there are more ears to receive it and more perspectives for you to take in that will only make you appreciate the tune more. If it is true about melodies, then it can also be true about your existence.”

Music has the very real power to change individual emotions and the world. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues it’s important to know that you are not alone and that there is help available. Chad recommends seeking help today:

“We don’t always get to choose all the details of the stories that we are living, but we do have a certain amount of say-so in who and how we share these stories. Simply put, not now or ever have you been expected to figure things out all by yourself. Whether you are navigating heartache or addiction or questions of survival, there is hope and there is help. We have seen this play out countless times over the years, where people in a moment of pain have sent an email or a text or called a crisis line and were reminded there are options. We get to see people year after year at events and festivals continue their stories. They often share their journeys with counseling and therapy and support groups. And virtually without fail, they say how other people have helped them towards recovery and help. If you or someone you love is looking for help, please visit for a growing list of options on where you can start that search. If you have questions, feel free to send an email to and if you need immediate help we would recommend texting “TWLOHA” to 741741 to connect with our friends at Crisis Text Line.”

It’s important for people to realize the simple act of discussing feelings and sharing experiences with others can be life changing. The more you connect, the more you can feel supported and realize you truly are not alone.

On this roller coaster life you live
When you got nothing left to give
You are never alone
We won’t let you go

Roller Coaster (Won’t Let You Go), © 2018 Up with People

How To Become An International Rock Star

Music can be a powerful vehicle for change. It inspires both the people who listen to the lyrics and the musicians who deliver the performance. With the rise of popular TV shows like The VoiceAmerican Idoland even YouTube channels it seems everyone wants to become an international rock star. The world is full of talented artists but the truth is that the odds of making a living as a world traveling musician are about .0000001%. If you are incredibly talented, charismatic, driven and happen upon a bit of luck your odds increase to .0000002%. But this doesn’t mean you should give up on your dream of international rock star fame…

What Is An International Rock Star?

A performer who gets the opportunity to travel the world, sing, dance, meet with world leaders, and inspires thousands of adoring fans is to us, an international rock star. Let’s first take a look at the traditional route, before diving into a way to achieve rock star status this year
Learn How To Play An Instrument – This instrument could be guitar, drums or even your voice. You can’t be an international rock star if you have no ability to perform so start today.
Make Sure You Love Music Not Just The Idea Of Fame – Of those who make it as famous musicians, most have a deep love of music. Authenticity is what lasts so be sure you don’t just love the idea of becoming famous. 
Practice, Practice, Practice – This can take years and countless hours. If you want to become any kind of artist you’d better hone your craft.
Share Your Music – Get on stage and share your music with friends. The more you get over stage fright the more likely people are to gravitate to you and listen to what you have to sing. Book as many gigs as you can. Nobody can discover your music if you only play for yourself.
Upload To YouTube – The modern day launching pad to so many musical careers, YouTube has become an essential tool for aspiring musicians. Upload high quality recordings of your music.
Never Give Up – Aspiring musicians must come to terms with the fact that they may never perform for millions of people. But that can’t stop them. Even if that never happens, the music is enough, and that inspires them to never stop.
How To Become An International Rock Star As Soon As This Year…
Since 1965 Up with People has been sending young musicians to perform all over the world and inspire others. Even people who have never performed have the chance to become international rock stars even if just for a year. Over 22,000+ alumni have performed for thousands of people including dignitaries and celebrities all over the world. Our rock star cast members have even performed at multiple Super Bowl halftime shows!
The tradition continues. In fact right now as we speak, the newest cast of Up with People participants, is getting ready to head out on tour and become the international rock stars they may have never known they could be. A common misconception about Up with People (and becoming one of our international rock stars) is that you have to be a musician. While we do attract some incredible talent, we also have participants who have never before stepped out on a stage. We believe this adds to the passion and incredibly unique experience that is an Up with People show.
The music they will perform reflects the mission of Up with People which is more necessary today than it has ever been. The combination of recent world developments, the rising tide of optimism in the youth of today, and the necessity to activate hope led to the theme for Up with People Live On Tour 2018: keep hope alive. A brand new show that will be performed over the next year for thousands of people worldwide.
How did these young people become international rock stars? They decided to travel the world with usand other young people representing 15+ countries from around the globe.
Want to see a show? The world premiere of Up with People Live On Tour 2018 has already sold out! See world tour stops and dates here.

When Up with People Dominated Super Bowl Halftime

With the big game fast approaching Up with People takes a look back at our role in the Super Bowl Halftime show. Our organization comes up a lot in conversation this time of year in countless lists both online and on American television. Including our pregame performance at the 1991 game, Up with People has played five Super Bowls, more than all but five NFL teams! Although we may no longer perform on this stage, we continue to tour the world with a new show and a message that is now more relevant than ever.

Repost – Article “When Up with People Dominated Halftime” by Doug Williams 

Long before superstars took over the Super Bowl halftime show, there was Up with People. Between the marching bands of the earliest games and Michael Jackson’s appearance in January 1993, four halftimes were filled with hundreds of energetic, clean cut kids who danced, sang and had smiles so perfect they could make a dentist weep.

It was a four ­scoop helping of wholesomeness before the era of big acts and (sometimes) big headaches. There were no wardrobe malfunctions, middle ­finger salutes, phallic shadows, bleeped ­out lyrics or homemade American flag ponchos. Just a legion of well­ choreographed teens and 20­-somethings singing tunes for that year’s Super Bowl theme.

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Over an 11­ year period, from 1976 to ’86, Up With People was the headline act at Super Bowls X, XIV, XVI and XX.The group has more Super Bowl halftime appearances than any other act. 

But each year about this time, Eric Lentz starts seeing “the lists.”

Before every Super Bowl, writers revisit every aspect of the game’s history, with top 10s of the best and worst games, plays, venues, commercials … and halftime shows. Each year, it seems, Up with People takes a beating.

Fortunately Lentz, Up With People’s senior vice president and executive producer, has a thick skin.

“We see the pundits and we see the top 10s and the bottom 10s, and we show up on all sorts of lists,” he said recently from the organization’s offices in Denver.

More often, the “pundits” aren’t kind. Wrote one reviewer in 2011 of best/worst halftime acts: “Book Up With People once? Shame on you. Book Up With People four times??? Shame on us all.” And this one, by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2010, that rated Up With People’s Motown tribute at the 1982 game in Pontiac, Mich., as the worst show ever:

“I hope you were throwing the football in your front yard during halftime shows in the 1970s and early 1980s, which all seemed to feature Up with People or Carol Channing. Up with People always had a creepy weird cultish quality, with exaggerated dance moves, brightly colored yet chaste clothing and industrial ­grade happiness. The group’s ‘Salute to Motown and the 1960s’ was the worst of its four Super Bowl appearances. The performances featured the whitest people in the world performing music mostly identified with African ­American culture. Imagine watching the cast of ‘Bonanza’ performing in a Tyler Perry play.”

To be fair, Up with People had several African­ American performers that year, and that particular performance has been praised, too. A Washington Times story in 2012 ranked the group’s Pontiac show as ninth best and refreshingly wholesome when compared to more recent acts, noting: “[they] were as inoffensive as puppies eating ice cream and apple pie.”

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To Lentz, the shots just bounce away.

Maybe their act wasn’t cool. Maybe Up with People’s performances (alive forever on YouTube) look corny, old­ fashioned and woefully out of place, sort of like Pat Boone rapping.

“I laugh it off,” Lentz said. “I consider the source. I don’t let it bother me because what your organization is about, at the end of the day, is not putting on Super Bowl halftime performances. It’s about changing lives. Not just the lives of the students that travel with us, but the lives of the families we stay with, the people we do service for and every community tour, showing that young people can communicate a positive message of understanding. That may sound like a company line, but it’s true, otherwise I wouldn’t have been working here for 15 years.” 

It may surprise some to find out that Up with People is still singing and dancing across the globe.

Founded in 1965 as an organization to promote good will and perform community service, Lentz describes it as a cross between “Glee” and the Peace Corps: The Glee Corps. It’s smaller than it was back in its Super Bowl era. It now sends out about 200 cast members (from the U.S. and other nations) to tour each year rather than the 600 or 700 in the ’70s and ’80s.

The group performed at the opening of the Rose Parade as recently as 2011, but it’s no longer in demand to play big sports events. Lentz knows times have changed too much for Up with People to do another Super Bowl. Now, mega­ celebrities are selected months in advance and hyped to bring in the largest audience possible. With the game, cutting­ edge commercials and a headline act at halftime, the Super Bowl is a ratings bonanza, and UWP doesn’t fit.

“I think [it’s] the reality of how the entertainment industry works now and the corporate dollars,” Lentz said, explaining the change. “Obviously this year you’re going to see Beyonce with Pepsi splashed all across her, right? The industry and landscape have changed so significantly. Personally, would I like to see us back? By all means. I think Up with People could do an amazing job with halftime. … But realistically, we would need a major corporate funder and we’d probably need a name [performer to pair with], because that’s what people are used to now.”

Dr. Robert Thompson watched those Up With People halftime shows and agrees with Lentz. Thompson, the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said the group probably was a bit out of place even when it was doing Super Bowls, noting comedians were making fun of it at the time. But that might say more about society than Up with People.

“I think generally, since the 1980s, we have been so deeply mired in irony and the era of postmodernism, and anything with that degree of sincerity and that lack of irony generally ends up being targets,” he said. “People make fun of it. A lot of people make fun of anything that’s hyper­ sincere and doesn’t engage in the kind of deep irony that’s been so much a part of the way we communicate, especially the way younger people communicate. And I guess by younger, I mean anybody under 65.”

The fact the NFL didn’t invite Up with People back to do the 2005 show ­­after Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004 exposed her right breast ­­ was a final signal the group isn’t coming back.

“They were so wholesome,” said Thompson. “How could you say anything against the message of breaking cultural barriers and creating understanding and all that kind of stuff? And I think as nice as they were, today they would seem completely out of place in a Super Bowl halftime show. Although I’m surprised ­­ and there was some talk after the Janet Jackson thing ­­ that that might have been just what the doctor ordered. But no, they went back in 2005 to Paul McCartney. He was the safe choice.”

Plus, Thompson knows the NFL had to change its show. Halftime was the most “disposable part of the broadcast,” he says ­­ a time people could step away. The NFL has now made that must ­see, too.

“Those superstar acts are more in line with the violence (game) and glitz (commercials) of the entire telecast than Up with People would be”, Thompson said. “Even a wardrobe malfunction isn’t all that incompatible.”

“All those people [were] complaining, ‘Oh, Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed for half a second! It’s destroyed all the children!’” Thompson said. “Whatever made them think that the rest of what went on during the Super Bowl was really good for children? Fourteen beer commercials associating beer with happy times and all those [erectile dysfunction] commercials and the violence of the sport? They made it sound like Janet Jackson’s breast was exposed during the playing of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ The Super Bowl is not that.”

Jim Steeg was an executive in the NFL for 30 years and the league’s senior vice president for special events ­­ in charge of just about everything related to the Super Bowl (including halftime entertainment) ­from 1979 to 2005. To Steeg, Up with People was the perfect act for the ’70s and ’80s. He and the NFL were pleased with the group’s performances and the crowd receptions were positive ­­ a reason UWP did four halftimes. But the times and technology that made the group appropriate 25­35 years ago have evolved.

Back then, there were no giant screens that allowed people sitting in the upper deck to see the face of a superstar performer. Back then, nobody thought to recruit a mega act to do a halftime show. At that time, said Steeg, the theory of the halftime show was that it needed to “fill the field” so every person in the crowd would be close to the performance. A lone performer on a stage at midfield would have been lost to ticket­ buyers.

“You couldn’t have a centrally focused, one ­person type performance,” Steeg said, noting the lack of giant video boards. “What you were seeing was what you saw right in front of you. You didn’t have the ability to look to your right or your left or, in the Jerry Jones world, look up above to see what was going on down on the field.”

So, the idea was to provide a “spectacle,” and Up with People could do that with 500 people weaving, dancing and singing across the turf. Giant video boards, willing celebrities and changing expectations soon made UWP obsolete as a halftime option, but Steeg says their act should be seen through the lens of that era, not this one.

“This was before everybody thought that stars wanted to participate,” he said. “That ’82 [show], they seemed like the absolute perfect match because they could do all the Motown music, and that was before you’d think about having Smokey Robinson or Gladys Knight or whoever perform in the halftime show. It was foreign to the thought process.”

To Steeg, that show in Pontiac was terrific.

“I love that halftime show because it was Motown and we were in Detroit and it was a great tribute to [Motown stars], and I’m not sure anybody else could have done it better than they did,” he said. “Then this transition starts to come a little bit where you get a star, or B­level stars, until you got to the A list.”

On Super Bowl Sunday, Lentz and others in his organization will do what they often do and trade messages about Beyonce’s halftime show.

“We all blow up each other’s Facebook walls when we see the latest performance and whether Up with People should be back, or good riddance that we’re not,” he says, laughing.

But he knows the shows today have far more “wow factor” than UWP can offer.

“The Black Eyed Peas, if you go back and look at them [in the 2011 show, you don’t see so much the performer as the technological wizardry,” said Lentz. “And that’s what makes us unique. … There’s a reason our name has the word people in it. Our performances are not about star power. They’re about the power of hundreds of young voices coming together to express a belief in world peace, which some may consider naïve, but that’s what we believe in. So I like seeing that power coming together. I just don’t know if the world would want to see that over Beyonce and the Black Eyed Peas.”

How Do We Keep Hope Alive?

How Do We Keep Hope Alive?
By Eric Lentz and Michael Bowerman, co-writers of the Up with People show

How do you measure hope? In a recent edition of Time magazine, guest editor Bill Gates assembled articles from a diverse collection of writers and public figures, including Trevor Noah, Malala Yousafzai, Ava Duvernay and Bono to answer that question. A central theme ran true to all of the articles – despite what we may read in our daily news feeds, there is more reason for optimism today than there has been in decades.

For over 20 years, we have been honored to work for Up with People, an organization whose mission is to inspire people to make a positive difference in the world. As Artistic Director and Music Director, we are responsible for leading the writing process for each new Up with People show. We are incredibly honored to have this responsibility, and we do not take it lightly. As songwriters, we find ourselves surrounded on all sides with inspiration for songs, and at the same time, we see the stark reality that the mission of Up with People is more necessary today than it has ever been.  The combination of recent world developments, the rising tide of optimism in the youth of today, and the necessity to activate hope led to the theme for Up with People Live On Tour 2018: keep hope alive.

Hope needs to be activated… it’s more than a song lyric or a greeting card. Hope without action is just an emoticon: nice, perhaps fun to look at, but ultimately one-dimensional. Our goal with this new show is to activate hope: to inspire people to make their own personal commitment tokeeping hope alive in their communities. As always, the stars of the production will be aninternational cast of young people from 20 countries – what makes the Up with People show special is the combined power of these diverse young change-makers joining together in a common message of unity.

The thematic thru line or ‘red-thread’ of the show is the pursuit of the answer to this question:how do we keep hope alive? Throughout the 2-hour concert experience, the audience will be encouraged to actively engage in the search for answers to this question. New songs such asStronger Together, What I’m Feeling Now, Maybe I, Roller Coaster, and Keep Hope Alive pose questions and raise awareness. Recent favorites like Home, Party ‘Round The World, Footsteps of a Girl, Crossroads and Through Your Eyes return to the show and  address universal questions such as the environment, gender equality, the migrant crisis and global perspective.

Up with People’s famous pop medleys are still a part of the show but are much more than just an “era” retrospective.  The medleys are connected to the ‘red thread’ of the show and are themed on three key aspects of the Up with People student experienceTravel, Perform, andImpact.

We invite you to join our international network of Hope Activists: in the comments section below, create your own personal commitment to keeping hope alive by answering this question: how will I keep hope alive?

We look forward to hearing from you, and maybe we’ll see you on tour!


10 Tips to Overcome Stage Fright

Up with People cast members have performed in thousands of shows for hundreds of thousands of people over the last 50+ years. Many of our participants experience stage fright before stepping out in front of large audiences. In fact, public speaking is the #1 fear of most human beings!

Those affected by stage fright experience dry mouth, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, trembling hands and nausea. If you dread the thought of getting up in front of a group of people and performing, you are not alone. Most people would rather get the flu than perform or speak in public. 

Performance anxiety can also negatively affect your self-esteem and self-confidence. Fortunately there are many things you can do to control your emotions and reduce performance anxiety. The following tips help our cast members get out there and perform every week all over the world for large crowds and important audience members (like Pope Francis). Put them into practice and these tips can help you handle your own stage fright.

The day of the performance eat sensible meals and limit your caffeine and sugar intake. Both of these things can increase and amplify anxiety.

Focus on the entertainment and enjoyment you are providing the audience. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and visualize the audience laughing, clapping and cheering. Never focus on what could go wrong. Visualize your success.

Each semester Up with People cast members participate in something we call staging in Denver, CO before heading out on tour. Staging is the time when the show comes together and our cast members practice, practice, practice. Nothing leads to stage fright more than the fear of forgetting lyrics or being unsure of your skills. If you are prepared then you have no reason to be fearful.

The body clenches and tightens when you are nervous. Take fifteen minutes before you get in front of people to stretch and move your body. This will help you relax emotionally.

Even with the best advice and pre-show rituals you will still experience nerves. Don’t fight it. Just breathe, accept it, and you will relax even more. If you fight your anxiety, chances are that it will get worse.

Taking deep breaths with eyes closed is a powerful tool in the fight against stage fright. Simply take 3 deep breaths to start and your body will calm down. In fact, numerous studies have proven that even just 1 session of deep breathing can significantly reduce anxiety. The feelings associated with stage fright are usually the strongest during the lead-up to the performance rather than during it, so take a minute to breath before heading out on stage.

The content of your performance is a powerful thing. Music or speeches have the ability to change the world. Many who experience stage fright have a negative inner critic that never stops. You don’t know what you’re doing. Your voice is not that good. The audience will hate me. This happens to most of us so be aware of that inner critic and turn your attention instead to the message you are about to bring to the crowd. You are about to teach them something amazing. They showed up to learn and be entertained. Concentrate on your content above all else, and you’ll avoid getting trapped in a negative state of mind.

Once on stage find friendly faces in the crowd and focus on those positive connections. Think of those people as your friend rather than your enemy.

If you can’t calm down before the show then allow yourself to imagine worst case scenarios. Will you die? No. Allowing yourself to imagine the worst will often become comical and calm your nerves.

Listen to your favorite music, call your best friend, do some yoga, go for a run. Do whatever it is that brings you to a truly happy and calm place. This can center you before the performance and prepare you for calm and confidence.