X-press Yourself Teaches Young Philly Girls to Express Themselves Through Performing Arts

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Sometimes it is hard to express yourself through words, but the creative and performing arts allows you to express yourself. This is one of the reasons why Fayette Coppock started X-Press Yourself: Creative and Performing Arts, Inc. The Philadelphia native is a graduate of the Philadelphia High School for Girls. She obtained her BA in Psychology from Temple University. In addition to operating XPY, she is also a Mental Health Therapist at the Center For Autism. 

“I found inspiration from the people who took time to pour into me,” Coppock explains what inspires her. “I was fortunate in this area as there were many. The most influential presence in my dance training was the late Carol C. Davis (Director of Progressive Center for Dance now known as Ms. Carol’s Center for Dance), who I trained under from 5 years old to adulthood. I was never really motivated by celebrities or public figures. I can’t ever remember looking at the television and saying, “I want to be just like her when I grow up”.

Fayette’s motivation also came from personal references, such as her mother and other strong, female examples in her upbringing. This is why she is such an advocate for mentorship programs. She believes that it is important for children to have tangible positive examples in their circle. She isn’t saying that it’s unrealistic to want to achieve celebrity status because she  hopes that one day one of her students will, but she believes it’s more important for them to be able to see that greatness comes in all forms because we all have a valuable place in life regardless of how great or insignificant society may say it is.

“I would say my biggest current motivation is my daughter,” Coppock explains. “She’s such an amazing kid and my biggest cheerleader. I’m fortunate that she LOVES being at the center and the arts, but she still has to sacrifice so much of her times with me and never complains. I want her to see that hard work and sacrifice does in fact produce great outcomes.”

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Fayette on behalf of Purposely Awakened where she discussed more behind her inspiration and mission to start X-Press Yourself. Check out the interview below. 

Fayette Coppock

What influenced you to start a non-profit to help children express themselves?

I’ve been performing since I was 4 years old. At that time, I was already enrolled in dance, but at 6, I was also enrolled in Meredith Elementary School for Creative and Performing Arts. This is where I was exposed to other art forms. After years of performing, there eventually came a point where I developed a passion for being on stage. In my late teens, this eventually transformed into a love for creating performances. Whether it be a play, choreographing, designing a costume a set, you name it. I loved the process of conceptualizing something and then seeing it come to life. I wanted to share this love with children who may not be able to recognize their potential in their everyday experiences. I believe the arts allows anyone to find and learn to express themselves; hence, the name X-Press Yourself. 

Did you start the group alone or with a group of like-minded individuals?

I originally started the program as part of my church’s summer camp. I later took the program and partnered with a friend who had a space where it was housed for three years under a different name. Three years ago, I branched off, found my own building and reinstated the name X-Press Yourself. 

Was the program developed out of financial need or community need?

The development of the program was definitely out of community need. I still work full-time and am very often putting my own finances back into the organization. Since the separation from my previous partner, I have not received any compensation because that’s how much I believe in the kids that we serve and the outcomes that our services will produce. 

What perception, message and feeling do you want the children to get from participating?

The perception I want our students to get from our program is that their voice, their gifts and THEY matter regardless of what society may tell them. We work really hard to develop productions that are reflective of our students’ issues and concerns. We believe that whether it be our African American, Latino or our White students, we can all learn from each other. 

What expressive forms of art are offered through your program?

We currently offer dance, drama and vocal training, which all work together to form musical theater. We also host events to try and create a consistent community outreach. In the last three years, we have introduced one new program per year. This year we’re hoping to launch two. One will be our Arts and Autism program where I can combine my two loves and we are also hoping to introduce Creative Writing in hopes that our students will begin developing their own ideas and writing their own scripts. 

What public events or upcoming events should we look forward to and support?

Our upcoming events include:

  1. Taking Care of Your Green in 2018- Free Financial Wellness Seminar- January 28 5PM
  2. Black X-Cellence- February 25th at the Performance Garage 4 PM
  3. Dance Ensemble/ Elite Summer Intensive Audition- April 8th
  4. Musicology- June 10th at the Independence Seaport Museum- 5PM
  5. We also have a Pre-Dance and Movement Program that we are enrolling for, which is a 6 week program for children 3-6. The next session will be from March 10-April 21

Purchase and enrollment info can be found on our website upcoming events pagewww.xpyourself.com.

Any words of wisdom you want to offer to the next successful millennial?

I don’t really think of myself as a millennial because I was actually born in the 70’s (Shh don’t tell anyone lol). But I can say that I most definitely relate more with millennials than many of my cohorts. I’m a techie and I feel that social media is great for gaining exposure and networking. I think it’s important to be able to or have someone on your team who is able to navigate successfully through the social media and graphic design world. In the same sense, it’s paramount to still be able to maintain personal relationships, which is something that many millennials lack. My overall biggest advice would be 1. There’s only one you in the universe so you owe it to the world to be the best version of yourself. 2. Seek advice from those who are successful at want they do. There are many people out there telling you how to not to fail, but only few can tell you how to succeed. These are 2 very different things. One involves playing it safe, the other requires faith and taking risk. 

I hope I have provided enough information and answered the questions appropriately. Please let me know if you need anything else from me. Thanks so much again for even considering me. I hope to hear from you soon. 

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Evan Wheeler hails from Camden, NJ. Most know him as Huey X, which is his selected born again name. It was selected by his love of Huey P Newton and Malcolm X who he follows for their beliefs and looks up to as his mentors. Huey is a well educated brother by the standards of college, as well as being a self taught activist and revolutionary through his experiences in life. He also thinks of himself as an entrepreneur being involved in so many different fields that include: poetry, writing, youth advocacy, business development, investing, and production. He is, “Always looking to advance the culture & legacy ".

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