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New DeWitt summer camp allows children to experience cultures through performing arts

The Bromkas' students get ready to perform as dragons with their dragon masks.

The Bromkas' students get ready to perform as dragons with their dragon masks. Submitted photo

— For more than five years, Luba Lesser has been searching for a concrete location to make her dream of a community center for visual and performing arts a reality. She’d been giving piano and voice lessons out of her home in DeWitt for years and realized she was running out of space.

So she turned to her church, St. David’s Episcopal Church, for accommodation. And when she met Sondra Bromka, who also attends St. David’s, it was a match made in heaven.

“I had been thinking about doing a summer camp for a while,” said Lesser. “I wanted to write a program to teach the arts so the kids could make art and be involved in music and make instruments and dance. I just didn’t know how to put a program like that together. And then I found Sondra and came to her with the idea. What I didn’t know was that she’d been doing a similar – but better - program to what I’d envisioned for the last 30 years.”

Sondra Bromka and her husband John have been traveling from their home in Marcellus to schools across the world to teach children about history and culture through performing arts for more than 30 years through the “Bells and Motley” program. They’ve performed at the Renaissance Festival since it began, done programs at national historic sites and held workshops everywhere from libraries to museums to historical societies.

During the fall, winter and spring, the Bromkas’ schedule is packed with school visits. Usually, they’ll be booked to visit a classroom for a week, coming in each day to teach about the music, art, dance, literature, pageantry of a curriculum-based theme. These include the Middle Ages, Renaissance, Early America and world cultures such as China. And during the summer months, they would choose a destination, usually in Europe, to teach for a month. But Bromka said that in this point in her life, she’s ready to let traveling fall to the wayside and focus on the Central New York community.

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