Subscribe
Hohenfels' James Crone makes some final adjustments on a hat in the costume design workshop Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2017 at Creative Connections. The students in the workshop created costumes for the musical theater class to wear for Thursday evening's performance.

Hohenfels' James Crone makes some final adjustments on a hat in the costume design workshop Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2017 at Creative Connections. The students in the workshop created costumes for the musical theater class to wear for Thursday evening's performance. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Hohenfels' James Crone makes some final adjustments on a hat in the costume design workshop Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2017 at Creative Connections. The students in the workshop created costumes for the musical theater class to wear for Thursday evening's performance.

Hohenfels' James Crone makes some final adjustments on a hat in the costume design workshop Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2017 at Creative Connections. The students in the workshop created costumes for the musical theater class to wear for Thursday evening's performance. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

SHAPE's Garrett Slosson uses a spoon on one of his works in the oil pastels workshop at Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. Ten workshops were offered at this year's DODDS-Europe program, four in the performing arts and six in the visual arts.

SHAPE's Garrett Slosson uses a spoon on one of his works in the oil pastels workshop at Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. Ten workshops were offered at this year's DODDS-Europe program, four in the performing arts and six in the visual arts. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

The Shakespeare workshop at Creative Connections goes through the bard's ''Julius Cesar.'' on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. Ten workshops were offered this year, four in the performing arts and six in the visual arts.

The Shakespeare workshop at Creative Connections goes through the bard's ''Julius Cesar.'' on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. Ten workshops were offered this year, four in the performing arts and six in the visual arts. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Aviano's Kalirada Dean works on a piece in the mixed media workshop at this year's DODDS-Europe Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 at a retreat along the Rhine River, Germany.

Aviano's Kalirada Dean works on a piece in the mixed media workshop at this year's DODDS-Europe Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 at a retreat along the Rhine River, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Alconbury's Jasmine Shackelford asks visual arts assistant Jessica Spencer advice on a piece she is working on in the mixed media workshop at DODDS-Europe's Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015.

Alconbury's Jasmine Shackelford asks visual arts assistant Jessica Spencer advice on a piece she is working on in the mixed media workshop at DODDS-Europe's Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Mason Jannise of Hohenfels concentrates as he plays his viola in the strings workshop at Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, at a retreat along the Rhine River, Germany. Ten workshops were offered at this year's DODDS-Europe program, four in the performing arts and six in the visual arts.

Mason Jannise of Hohenfels concentrates as he plays his viola in the strings workshop at Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, at a retreat along the Rhine River, Germany. Ten workshops were offered at this year's DODDS-Europe program, four in the performing arts and six in the visual arts. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Strings instructor Rebecca Dosch directs the strings workshop at Creative Connections through ''Russian Sailor's Dance,'' Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015.

Strings instructor Rebecca Dosch directs the strings workshop at Creative Connections through ''Russian Sailor's Dance,'' Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Members of the dance workshop at Creative Connections rehearse a piece that they will perform at the Thursday evening show that closes this year's annual DODDS-Europe program.

Members of the dance workshop at Creative Connections rehearse a piece that they will perform at the Thursday evening show that closes this year's annual DODDS-Europe program. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Dance workshop instructor Tammie Grimmage, foreground left, shows students how the choreography should go during session at Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015.

Dance workshop instructor Tammie Grimmage, foreground left, shows students how the choreography should go during session at Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

In the drawing workshop at Creative Connections, Naples' Devan Hall works on a self-portrait.Ten workshops were offered this year's DODDS-Europe advanced arts program, four in the performing arts and six in the visual arts.

In the drawing workshop at Creative Connections, Naples' Devan Hall works on a self-portrait.Ten workshops were offered this year's DODDS-Europe advanced arts program, four in the performing arts and six in the visual arts. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Musical theater instructor Donna Andre goes over a song with singers during a session at this year's DODDS-Europe Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 at a retreat along the Rhine River, Germany.

Musical theater instructor Donna Andre goes over a song with singers during a session at this year's DODDS-Europe Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015 at a retreat along the Rhine River, Germany. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

The musical theater workshop at Creative Connections rehearse a number, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. The white tape on the floor represents the outline of the stage they will perform on Thursday evening.

The musical theater workshop at Creative Connections rehearse a number, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. The white tape on the floor represents the outline of the stage they will perform on Thursday evening. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Stuttgart's Lexi Waskiewicz, left, and Vicenza's Alexandra Correa work on their paintings in the watercolor workshop at Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015.

Stuttgart's Lexi Waskiewicz, left, and Vicenza's Alexandra Correa work on their paintings in the watercolor workshop at Creative Connections, Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. (Michael Abrams/Stars and Stripes)

Creating a Greek god of war for her mixed media project, Leila Sakamova had glued paint brush bristles across Ares’ Spartan helmet and twisted metal wire into tiny circles to form a chain of armor across his chest.

“I tried to give him an intense, fierce look,” she said Tuesday, while filling in her warrior with acrylic paint.

The sophomore from Ankara High School, Turkey, was relishing her first try at mixed media art. “I’m loving it,” she said.

For four days this week, a youth hostel in the Rheinland-Pfalz in southwest Germany is transformed into a kind of artistic retreat, as students converge from military schools across Europe for the annual Creative Connections.

The students spend hours focusing on their chosen craft with like-minded peers, getting more exposure, they say, in a few days to the fine or performing arts than they would during weeks of regular school.

“In school, with the time limit, you can’t really finish anything in 45 minutes,” Sakamova said. But here, “you can concentrate on just one piece” for hours.

While time is not constrained, it’s not unlimited. Students must show their work Thursday night, either in a performance or an exhibition.

Participants started working toward that goal shortly after arriving Sunday night. It wasn’t long before the hostel was buzzing with the creative arts.

Down the hall from the mixed media arts students, the strings ensemble played the lively “Russian Sailor’s Dance,” while in the auditorium, students recited lines from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” Elsewhere in the building, dancers practiced ballet and hip hop, and sewing machines hummed at the hands of young designers making costumes.

This year, 501 students applied for 11 workshops in the fine and performing arts. Making the cut were 130 girls and 36 boys from about 20 schools, according to organizers.

“We call it an extension of the classroom,” said Hope Matthews, Creative Connections project officer, “because it’s something they can’t get at their local school level but they can take the gifts that they learn back to their schools.”

Creative Connections is unique to the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe. Matthews said it’s been held for about 39 years. Though some of the workshops have changed over the years, the focus remains on the fine and performing arts and the event continues to be a student favorite.

“We hear from students who are in college now. They write to me and say, ‘that was a life-changing moment for me,’ ” Matthews said.

Jan Olivar, a senior at Naples High School, Italy, chose attending Creative Connections over vacationing this week in London with his family.

A hip hop artist, Olivar was learning some basic ballet moves in his second year at Creative Connections. “I’m not that flexible, but I’m getting there,” he said. “Last year was really fun. This year it stepped up a lot because I know people now.”

It’s challenging, but fun, said many in this year’s group.

“I love this,” said Alyssa Price, a junior from Incirlik High School, Turkey, of the costume-design workshop. “It’s going to put us behind in homework but it’s worth it. This is fashion. This is me.”

Instructor Cindy Peterson, an art teacher from Lakenheath High School, United Kingdom, said “it’s been an amazing 36 hours” so far.

Peterson and her nine students are designing and making costumes, masks, gloves and accessories for 27 actors in the musical theater workshop.

The costume theme is “funky futuristic,” she said. “We’re just going for glitz and movement and air and irregularity; nothing the same.”

Peterson said her young designers are on the right track. During the first fitting on Monday, she said, “every single actor, when they got their clothing on, they looked down, ‘Oh my god, it’s so beautiful. I love it.’”

“To watch these guys and their faces,” she said of her students, “it was just one of those magic moments. The reason why you go into teaching — to see the kids pull off their vision and make it work.”

To watch the Creative Connections’ performance live, starting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, go to:

https://sites.google.com/a/student.dodea.edu/cc2015/home

Pictures from the art show will be shown prior to the performance.

svan.jennifer@stripes.com

author picture
Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up