Alex Gallardo/AFP/Getty Images
Britain's Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, exchange conversation as they sit down to paint a picture during their tour of the Inner City Arts campus in Los Angeles, California, on July 10, 2011. Prince William and his wife Catherine are on a royal visit to California from July 8 to July 10.
William and Catherine are back in Britain after a quick visit to Los Angeles. During the royal couple’s three-day stay, they met with A-list celebrities, politicians and business leaders.
But it seemed the most fun they had was on LA’s Skid Row – at a place called Inner-City Arts. It’s an arts education center that teaches painting, dancing and animation to kids.
Inner-City Arts CEO Cynthia Harnisch says it was only three weeks ago when she heard the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge wanted to pay her organization a visit.
“I almost fell off my chair," Harnisch recalls. "So then there was a moment of panic. How do we get ready for this? Do we curtsey? We have a million questions. I mean, what do we know?”
Harnisch has no clue how her school was chosen. But she says before the royals announced their plans, she’d been talking with the British Consulate about collaborating with UK charities.
“I do know that the work of our school dovetails with the royal couple’s interest. She is very interested in art therapy and he is very interested in homeless youth.”
Immediately, Cynthia Harnisch rallied the troops. The dance troupe, that is. They had three weeks to come up with a Royal-worthy routine.
“That’s not a very long time to prepare for a performance," says Harnisch. "And it’s all original work. It’s not as though they are doing numbers from other shows. So that was probably the most intense preparation.”
Inner-City Arts works with around 10,000 kids a year. In addition to dance, students learn photography, painting, ceramic and animation. They had plenty of student work to display for the Royal visit.
When the Duke and Duchess finally arrived Inner-City Arts was ready. William and Catherine made a sculpture with the kids, they sat in on a painting class - and of course, the Royals caught a performance from the Inner City Arts Repertory Dance Company.
"it was amazing!" exclaimed 19-year-old Jessica Cornejo after her troupe finished the performance.
"We had so much energy in this room," said 19-year-old Lorenzo Perez. "We had it coming from the kids and from the Duke and Duchess."
15-year-old Iliana Sanmaniego added, "They were active! They were clapping!"
The young dancers radiated pride. Of course, the three weeks of intense practice took a toll on them.
Cornejo says she only had one plan for the weekend - to get some rest.