Express Yourself

Aaron Larson and Cynthia Banda pose for a publicity photo for Express Yourself 2019, which takes place this Saturday night at the Donna Reed Theater. Photo submitted

“If we support something new it will spark an idea and create something else,” said Cynthia Banda.

Her new idea is the Express Yourself 2019 showcase that takes place this Saturday night at the Donna Reed Theater in Denison.

Sadie Petersen, owner of Simply Stitched, which is located upstairs in Reynolds Clothing, and Morgan Slechta, owner of Winsley & Co., an online women’s fashion and clothing store, round out the team organizing the show.

Banda initially envisioned the event as a fashion show, but it quickly became a magnet for a variety of people with creative skills.

Along with a display of local fashions, the show will also feature the works of a photographer, singers and a video producer.

After a short acknowledgement of the event’s sponsors at the beginning of the show, the works of Ashley Brus, a Denison photographer, will be the first feature.

Brus’s presentation will show the evolution of her work as a photographer, Banda said.

Models from the local community will then show off items from Simply Stitched, Winsley & Co., Reynolds Clothing, The Male Room and Common Threads Boutique.

The models were drawn from three casting calls the organizers conducted over the last few weeks.

The first part of the show will conclude with a singing performance and then a display of dashikis, which are colorful garments from Africa, along with African cultural music.

After a short intermission, the show will resume with models showing items from Linda Lou’s Boutique, Good Samaritan Center Thrift Shop, aspiring model Natalie Arellano (wearing her own clothes), Splurge & Gifts and Wild Daisy Bridal.

The program will conclude with a presentation by video creator Sierra Pauley’s company, Sea of Love.

“Her video is about human emotion and what love is,” Banda said. “She interviewed people about what they think love means.”

The show will conclude with an acknowledgment of the Donna Reed Foundation’s contribution to the event and to creativity in the community.

“We’ll give a shout out to Donna Reed for being a place where people can express themselves,” she said.

Any donations made on the night of the show will go to the Donna Reed Foundation.

The production team had a dress rehearsal on Wednesday night. Banda said it was rocky at first, but it turned out well.

The process of creating the show has been a learning experience, she said.

“What stands out for me is how much community members and local businesses are willing to help out,” Banda said. “When they know that something is going on that benefits the community, they are all there to help.”

She said she didn’t know Denison had so many helpful people.

“I grew up here and I’m seeing Denison in a different way,” she said.

Banda graduated from Denison High School in 2013.

She said most of her classmates have moved on from Denison, but that doesn’t have to always be the case.

Banda said she had talked to members of the Denison Rotary Club who talked about their interest in having youth stay in the area.

“It makes sense for me not to leave,” she said. “There is something I need to give back and it can start with this.”

She has heard people say that Denison teenagers don’t care about anything, but her experience creating Express Yourself 2019 has shown the opposite.

“Whenever we have practices, they listen and they aren’t messing around,” Banda said. “They do care.”

The models are learning to put their fears aside.

“There is confidence that comes with it,” she said.

Some of the volunteers have spent many hours creating graphics or managing the social media aspect of the show.

“There is creativity and they are creating good work,” she said. “They’re doing work that will benefit them for the future if they are thinking about becoming a photographer, a videographer or graphic designer.”

She said the show is not about bringing big city fashion to Denison. The fashion is already here.

“You can find fashion within a small town,” Banda said. “It’s about creating your own style and expressing yourself with what you put together. It could become something Denison is known for.”

Express Yourself 2019 runs from 7:15 to 9 p.m. Saturday night at the Donna Reed Theater in Denison.

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