Last week, the Everyman Street Theatre Company summer youth workshop presented about a dozen performances throughout the District. At the end of the week, the young people had one day to recuperate and gear up for more performances this week.

But such a strenuous schedule is to be expected, according to Mike Malone, director and choreographer of the theater company, which is working with the Arts D.C. Employment program to prepare area young people for careers in the arts and humanities.

"Making it in show business -- or any business -- requires discipline and dedication," Malone said.

Discipline is what Malone hopes to teach the youngsters. Dedication, they must develop for themselves.

Of the 70 young people working with the Everyman Street Theatre Company -- as performers, stage technicians or administrators -- Malone said those who are committed distinguish themselves from the others. "All of them are talented, but they don't all have the discipline to get from one level {of performance} to the next," he said.

About 1,600 youths throughout the city were assigned to work in Arts D.C. as part of Mayor Marion Barry's Summer Youth Employment Program. Since last month, they have been working 30 to 40 hours a week with professional artists and humanitarians honing skills in sculpting, painting, architecture, photography, graphic arts, writing, dancing and singing.

Under the direction of project director Deborah Carrington, applicants interested in the arts interviewed and auditioned for positions in theater companies, museums and music ensembles. Others were assigned to technical crews or administrative tasks.

The youths had different levels of experience, said Lynne Zamil, executive director of Arts D.C., and everyone who had the right attitude and a willingness to work hard was hired. "If the kids lacked talent but compensated for it with willpower, we took them," she said.

Arts D.C. officials and instructors planned to teach the young people how to get from one level of performance to the next. Many young people realize they have talent and want to sing, she said, but they don't know how to go from singing in the shower to singing professionally.

The program instructors help the young aspirants identify their strengths and weaknesses. "Many of them think they're a lot better than they really are," Zamil said. "We try to give them an evaluation of their skills from a professional perspective."

Zamil said she had no reservations about the professionals discouraging the aspiring artists. Arts D.C. officials selected instructors who "know how to relate to young people."

Malone, former producer and choreographer for the television series "Fame," said, "Some of the youth will go on to become professional performers . . . {and} some of them will become educated members of an audience."

After seven weeks of working in the program, the young lives are more directed. "Many of them come in shy and insecure, but most of them leave with a better sense of what they can do and how," Zamil said.

When Darren Ross, a graduate of Ballou High School, began his summer job in the Arts D.C. program, he was an "average" student with no plans for higher education. But after working on a mural project, under the supervision of "Big Al" Carter, he decided to attend Georgia Southwestern College in Americus, Ga., in the spring to study visual arts and literature. He said Carter helped him to get his portfolio together and to apply for a scholarship.

Carter said he helped his charges develop their individual techniques "Making it in show business -- or any business -- requires discipline and dedication."

-- choreographer Mike Malone

and took them to museums throughout the city to help them acquire an appreciation for art. "I always get calls from former students telling me they're in college and thanking me," Carter said. "And I say 'thank you' to them . . . . I was only doing my job."

Carter, a painter, said he believes that setting a good example and showing an interest in young people pay off. He has often helped his summer charges secure year-round jobs in other arts programs. He said he taught them to become "inquisitive about what's out there and who's willing to pay them for their talents."

Last week, Carter and Romeo Taylor supervised seven young artists in completing a mural at Martha's Table, a Northwest soup kitchen. First, the artists drafted the mural on paper, then figured out how to depict the montage of realistic images and graphic lettering from the paper onto the wall.

"That's the program working at its best," Zamil said.

Adrian Bolton, former Arts D.C. youth participant, supervised a group of summer employes rehearsing a full-length original musical, "What He Could've Been," which made its debut last week at Fletcher-Johnson Elementary School in Southeast. Bolton, the play's author and choreographer, studied and performed in New York for several years before returning to the District to become associate artistic director for D.C. Contemporary Arts, which cooperates with Arts D.C. to train area young people in the performing arts.

Robert Northern, musician and orchestrator, taught the World Music Ensemble, a group of young musicians, to compose tunes combining modes of African-upbeat and European-classical music. "I wanted to teach them that there's more to life than go-go music," said Northern, who has performed, orchestrated and taught in New York. Throughout the summer the musicians exchanged roles, playing a variety of instruments, composing and directing.

"This is a multicultural city," Northern said. "I challenged the musicians to broaden their horizons through music."