If you want to know how to heal an ailing world, just ask an artist, especially one who’s performed all over the world and has worked extensively with children.
“You love,” I started.
“I love,” he said.
Those are the first four words that Aubrey Lynch II and I said to one another. Speaking rapidly, eager to get our thoughts out, we ended in perfect pitch and unison by saying, “These kids.”
He loves those kids. “I love these kids,” Lynch shared, a serious smile filling out his smooth, caramel face.
Lynch is the creator of Mr. Aubrey’s Show Kids, a new, extensive, performing arts summer camp at the Harlem School of the Arts. Lynch’s career seemed to take a new direction, but in retrospect, it’s taking him full circle.
Aubrey is handsome and gregarious, with a well-toned dancer’s body and eyes that flash and size you up at the same time. Standing inside the Harlem-based rehearsal studio, waiting for the kids to settle down, he can barely contain the excitement he’s feeling—there will be two surprise guests visiting the kids.
“The first is a former student [Caleb McLaughlin] that I coached on his audition for ‘The Lion King.’ He’s now performing [as Young Simba],” revealed Aubrey, “and the second is Joell Jackson from ‘Stomp.’”
Lynch has quite the resume himself. He was one of the last dancers selected by Alvin Aliey before his death in 1989 and toured with the Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble (now called Ailey II) until 1993.
As a principal dancer, he traveled to more than 20 countries, performed in over 35 ballets (including Ailey’s “Reflections in D,” “Blues Suite” and “Revelations”) and had the opportunity to work with young artists worldwide through the company’s outreach program.
When he left the company, he worked constantly in all mediums and even taught himself to crochet, launching a line of wearable art. Constance C.R. White noted in The New York Times, “One of the most convincing creative fashion presentations put on recently was, not surprisingly, conceived by someone from the theater, Aubrey Lynch II.”
Then, in 1997, something really big happened in Lynch’s life. He was one of 14 (seven men and seven women) chosen, from the thousands of dancers who auditioned, to be in the original cast of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “The Lion King.”
While performing in the cast, he also acted as the production’s dance captain, dance supervisor and, ultimately, associate choreographer. Aubrey restaged the work of choreographer Garth Fagan, working as part of a team responsible for casting, mounting and maintaining all worldwide productions of “The Lion King.”
Since “The Lion King” debuted in 1997, he has opened and maintained 14 productions of the show and has traveled to over 16 countries.
It was during this time that Lynch merged his experience into education, working closely with the director of education and outreach at Disney Theatrical Productions and developing programs to bring theater to schools, grades three through 12, through activities and the curriculum.
Shaped by all of his experiences, Lynch has developed his own curriculum, the Aubrey Lynch Experience, a program for young artists and non-artists.
Aimed at the high school, university and professional levels, his programs use elements of theater to help young people to see their options and explore the kind of decision-making that leads to successful and stable lives.
Lynch is also a master teacher, arts educator and certified life coach who trained at the highly acclaimed Coaches Training Institute. As director of dance and musical theater at Harlem School of the Arts, through his coaching, leadership programs, dance classes and workshops, he uses all of his experiences to help both performers and non-performers reveal their unlimited unique potential and realize their desired goals.
“My long-term goal is to have my program inside high schools and church organizations around the world. Hopefully, I can begin in New York.”
New York educators, please pay attention. Lynch is coming from a place of experience and love. I am in complete agreement that the arts aren’t something extra but essential, because theater also saved my life.
On Aug. 2 at the HSA Theater at 7 p.m., the first session of Mr. Aubrey’s Show Kids will showcase an original musical piece created in large part by the students.
Tickets are on sale for $10 at AubreyLynch.com or for $15 at the door.