Delaney Yuko Ross ’12 last appeared on the Gates Performing Arts Center (GPAC) stage in her senior year production of Anything Goes. This year she returns to HPA in a new role: Upper School performing arts teacher. In between, she studied classical voice at the Manhattan School of Music, earned a B.A. in ethnomusicology from Barnard College at Columbia University, and an M.S. in education from the University of Edinburgh. She was on her way toward a doctorate in ethnomusicology from UCLA when the opportunity arose to join HPA’s faculty. Now, she’s center stage at rehearsals, she’s teaching a host of performing arts classes, and she’s ready to bring the magic of theater back to full force in a community she knows well.
You grew up in Kona… What was it like to move from Hawai‘i Island to New York City for college?
Yes—it was a lot! I really wanted to go to the east coast because I just loved Broadway. I grew up in a family of musical theater nerds, and I fell in love with it. Although being one of eight million people was a little intimidating, I was already familiar with international living from being in the HPA dorms, and I loved being around so many different people… I loved buying my first winter coat… it was all really wonderful.
What is ethnomusicology?
It’s the study of music through an anthropological or cultural lens. I took my first anthropology course as a whim during my freshman year in college. Something happened, and I knew that studying people and culture was what I wanted to do. I had never even heard of ethnomusicology before, but it was a magically perfect combination of all my interests. Columbia is one of the few universities that even offers it as a major. I was lucky!
Tell us about your hopes and plans for the theater program at HPA.
I have been given an awesome opportunity to revive the drama program here, and I’m so excited. I remember coming to GPAC as a kid in 2005 to see Little Shop of Horrors, and it was just amazing! We’re blessed with an extremely beautiful facility. I want to take full advantage of it, and get more people involved. I’d like to get to a point where every single student has stepped on the GPAC stage before an audience at least once. I want the program to be thriving, and I’m committed to being here to help make it happen.
What do you think performing arts can do for teenagers, in a broad sense?
I am of the opinion that anyone can benefit from taking an acting class. Everyone should do it. I stand by that statement. Theater teaches you so much beyond just being on stage: confidence, collaboration, self-awareness… there’s so much to learn! If more people had taken high school theater, maybe the world would be a better place.
What has it been like coming back to your high school to teach?
It is very strange calling Mrs. Kamrow “Babs.” That’s a huge adjustment. Many of my colleagues knew me as a 14-year-old when I was out there on the stage giving it my all. But really, it’s been an absolute joy. I thought it would be weird, but it mostly just felt like coming home. I find it so rewarding to watch my students make memories just like the ones I made as a student.