By Akosua Albritton
Anaya Torrence is seen as a wonder for some people. Anaya started taking piano classes at Mrs. Robinson’s Music School at age 3. By age 5, she was playing Bach. Patricia Robinson, the music school’s director, believes “the sky’s the limit” for Anaya—her “Little Mozart”. Attika Torrence, her father, believes Anaya is one of many brilliant minds.
“I think my daughter is brilliant and I think many of our children are brilliant. Because [my wife and I] have invested in our family, it shows in our daughter.”
This investment is in the form of exposure to several arts and sports programs. Migdalia Torrence, Anaya’s mother, first visited Mrs. Robinson’s Music School when she was pregnant and returned two years later to hear that her daughter still had time before starting classes. At age 3, Anaya was given a test to judge her ability to follow directions and recognize shapes, which she passed. By 4, she played “Princess Waltz” at her first recital.
Ms. Torrence enrolled her daughter also in a performing arts program for children at Brooklyn College for instruction in ballet and musical theater. When Dwana Smallwood opened her performing arts center in 2015 on Lexington Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, she had her daughter involved in the Summer Arts Intensive. The two also go to Prospect Park to play tennis and Kensington Stables for horseback riding.
Migdalia Torrence, previously the education director of a day care center, sold the business to be a full-time homemaker. She reasoned, “If I can be what I was to all those children, I can be all that for my child”.
This family tapped into the resources found in and out of Bedford-Stuyvesant to provide a fertile environment for themselves. “Don’t be afraid to let our children try different things. We have been searching for her talent, her brilliance. We’ve arranged for Anaya to do gymnastics, soccer, ballet, swimming, tennis, horseback riding and karate. All we’re doing is giving her the opportunity to exercise her ability”, explained Attika Torrence.
It is true that Anaya is not alone in her brilliance. She does not sit in an empty classroom at Success Academy in Bed-Stuy, at Brooklyn College, at Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center, nor other programs she attends. She is with other children, being a young girl. It is during recitals that her competitive side reveals itself. Mrs. Robinson declared, “In fact, she’s competitive with others. She doesn’t want anyone to be better than she is”.
The next opportunity to see “Little Mozart” compete with other bright stars is Sunday, February 21, 2016, 4:00 PM at Berean Missionary Baptist Church, 1635 Bergen Street in Brooklyn for the Mu Te Or chapter of the National Association of Negro Musicians Black History Concert.