Express Yourself Milwaukee presents Soul, an inspiring, family-friendly event featuring dance, music, spoken word, and visual arts on May 4.

Express Yourself Milwaukee presents SOUL, an unforgettable and inspirational evening that celebrates the culmination of creative work done by young people and professional artists working in collaboration through Express Yourself Milwaukee’s year-long multi-disciplinary arts exploration.

The performance brings together dance, music, spoken word and visual arts for an exuberant outpouring of creativity. Express Yourself Milwaukee (EXYOMKE) is a local non-profit that works with low-income and at-risk youth in Milwaukee’s central city. The youth learn to express themselves in healthy, positive ways using a variety of creative means, and in the process, discover inner strength and a sense of connection with others.

SOUL will be performed on May 4, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at the historic Milwaukee Theatre located at 500 W. Kilbourn Avenue in downtown Milwaukee. This family-friendly event is free and open to the general public. Donations will be accepted. Look for the train stations located throughout the theater to catch the conductors and leave a donation.

EXYOMKE selects a different theme to focus their creative work on each year culminating in a big, final public performance. The theme of this year’s production is SOUL and is defined as the inner force that keeps us moving forward, ignites meaning, purpose and positivity in our lives and is connected and expressed through community. The May 4th performance of SOUL will include 120 youth, 30 artists and musicians.

Founder and Executive Director Lori Vance explained that, “We chose the metaphor of a ‘soul train’ to remind us all to get on board with our soul family. The ‘soul train’ adventure will go through the ‘gritty truth’ and ‘layers of sound,’ to ‘sharing a smile’ and a ‘brand new day.’ The young people and adult artists who have worked on SOUL have created for Milwaukee an energetic, immersive experience that will surprise audiences with its creative comingling of artistic forms. Our hope is that the work will inspire, touch and deepen everyone’s commitment to the youth in our city and the changes we need to make together.”

Noted visual artist and former Milwaukee Bucks player Desmond Mason was recently in Milwaukee doing a weeklong residency working with EXYOMKE. About his visit he commented, “Milwaukee is blessed to have an organization like Express Yourself Milwaukee that does such positive and creative work with Milwaukee’s disadvantaged and at-risk youth. I wish the town I grew up in had something like that! I personally know how important art has been in my own life, so it was wonderful to work with Express Yourself students and staff artists to create visual elements that will appear in their final big showcase of the year.”

STOMP performer and EXYOMKE artist Cammie Griffin had this to say about the organization: “Collaborating with Express Yourself is so rewarding. You get to make a real difference in the life of the city’s youth, providing some of the tools they need for success. The motto, ‘the children are our future’ is merely a statement until you make it a reality. By helping kids in tough situations get onto the path of success, you really can make a difference.”

Anwar Floyd-Pruitt, a member of the EXYOMKE Artistic Team and Visual Artist, added, “Working with EXYOMKE this year has been an exciting and fulfilling experience. It’s a privilege and a blessing to be able to use my artistic skills for the benefit of the Milwaukee community. My colleagues feel like family, and even our most challenging youth inspire me.”

Popular local musician and EXYOMKE Music Director David Wake summarized by saying, “The exceptional artistic team and leaders at Express Yourself Milwaukee care so much about the youth in this city. The ongoing dedication to helping people realize that there are alternatives out there to find hope and bring unity to community, never ceases to amaze me. I am so proud to bare witness time and again as desperate stories of division and disenfranchisement make way to real examples of togetherness through the healing power of art.”