HSDC's Artistic Director and Company talking with ES students after the rehearsal
Last Wednesday we had a day full of dance as Early Stages attended a behind the scenes look with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (HSDC- who is at the Joyce Theater through May 26) and an evening of ballet with American Ballet Theatre (ABT- who just kicked off the start of their 2013 season).
Wednesday afternoon 20 Early Stages students from IS 59 got to see a dress rehearsal of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s piece Casi-Casa. In addition, the students got to meet HSDC’s Artistic Director, Glenn Edgerton, and HSDC’s Company Manager, Ishanee DeVas. They spoke about their roles at HSDC, the process of choosing dancers/pieces/choreographers, as well as gave advice to the future dancers.
Here is what the students had to say about the experience:
HSDC dancer, JONATHAN FREDRICKSON, with ES students
“Casi-Casa was an abstract and imaginative performance. It was different, sharp, flow-y, and contemporary.”-Tanasia L., 7th grade
“It was amazing! I truly loved it. It was contemporary dance and it was abstract, meaning you have to use your imagination and interpret it in your own way.” -Imani W., 7thgrade
“[From the talkback] I learned how long the dance to took to choreograph and the dancers to learn it. It made me realize that very hard and serious work was put into the performance.” -Chris-Ashley F., 8th grade
“It was different from anything I have ever seen before! After hearing other people’s views on the movement [at the talkback] I had a different outlook on the performance. It was good to hear everyone’s opinions.” -Becca B., 8th grade
“Every part of Casi-Casa was my favorite part!” -Zarria F., 8thh grade
“The movement was smooth, they made it look so easy!” -Skye D., 8th grade
Early Stages raced from the Joyce Theater up to Lincoln Center’s Metropolitan Opera House for ABT’s Onegin. Fifty students from 3 different schools (coming from Inwood, the Lower East Side, and the Bronx) went to watch, as one student stated, “the vibrant” story of unrequited love told through dance.
Here is what some other students had to say about the performance:
“It was a wonderful environment where everything was so beautifully put together. I liked Scene 3 because it had more of a romantic drama feel. I experienced sadness and unexpected joy. The movement was beautiful and elegant. Everything worked wonderful- the elements collaborated well together.” Jasmine, 11th grade
“ABT’s performance of Onegin is a powerful and compelling love story of betrayal and the growth of two people. My favorite part of the performance was the dance between Tatiana and her husband at the ball because she found love again and the dance itself was beautiful. I experienced envy, joy, surprise and pride. All the movements were flawless, fluid and perfect.” Gabrielle H., 11th grade
“ABT’s performance was great. My thoughts throughout the performance were ‘I would love to dance like that’. It was inspiring.” Umawattie, 10th grade
“ABT’s performance was dramatic, beautiful and graceful. I thought about how hard they must have practiced to get to that level of performance. The movements were graceful and angelic. The music made the performance dramatic, the costumes made the performer look beautiful, the choreography tells the story and the set showed the many places of the story.” –Ashley R., 10th grade
“Onegin was phenomenal. One moment I was excited then I was sad when the guy in the black suit treated Tatiana differently, also when he shot his friend in the duel. Finally I was happy in the end because Tatiana was content with her true love. The movements were too amazing to describe.” –Renay, 12th grade
“Onegin was an amazing dance production that involved graceful dancers and a love story that will have you on the edge of your seat! My favorite part was when Tatiana told Onegin to leave. I experienced ecstasy. The movements were graceful and beautiful. Everything complimented each other.” Iemanie, 9th grade
Students and their Families joined Juan Usera and Early Stages for two nights of music, dance, and learning
Drumming as a Medium for Community Building Family Workshop
For the second year Early Stages presented two evenings of Bilingual family workshops at PS 377 in Bushwick, Brooklyn. We had over 50 student and family members from 10 different countries in attendance, participating, listening and learning with our teaching artist, Juan Usera and his La Tribu bandmate, Oba.
Students learn rhythms from all over the Caribbean
The workshops focused on the Bomba and Plena music from the Americas. Juan went around the room asking each person where their family came from and engaged them in a discussion about the different names and forms that Bomba and Plena had in their country.
Parents, students and family members were invited to play drums, panderos and guiros as the rest of the group sang and danced along. They were taught how to hold the instruments and different rhythms for each song.
The second workshop picked up right where we left off the week before, talking about our ancestors, reviewing the rhythms, songs, and dances from the week before while adding in maracas, claves, and new dance steps for the different beats.
The workshops were evenings filled with food, fun, laughter, singing, dancing, and music. The parents and students of PS 377 were glad to have the opportunity to spend time with their families, share their culture, and get to know other families from the school community. Here are what some of the parents had to say about the workshops:
“We all became comfortable with each other and trusted one another when we danced and played music together.”
“We like music, and enjoy learning things about other cultures. Everyone cooperated together and worked as one to create the beat. I danced and tried instruments. I also helped others with the dance steps.”
Students are all smiles as they try out different instruments
“The environment was fun and interesting. I learned that we should learn more about our own cultures and celebrate them. I want to teach my kids about my culture now.”
“I learned that my family and I can have fun with music. Also, it was fun interacting with and dancing with strangers”.
“I enjoyed watching the kids learn to play new instruments and have fun with friends.”
“I learned how to play instruments and how to dance. I can now show my kids about our Spanish culture.”
“It was a very cheerful event; it reminded me of my home culture.”
Hear what students and parents had to say, (and see some of their dance moves) in this video!
Orphans, starring Alec Baldwin, Ben Foster and Tom Sturridge, brought up themes about relationships (brothers, fathers, sons), power, self image and independence. The students were engaged from the moment they sat down through the subway ride home!
“What will stick with me is that people will come and go but they will leave an imprint on your life. From this, I am beginning to appreciate each and everbody’s presence. I am grateful to be a part of the Early Stages program, which has enhanced my love for stage plays and the arts.”- Emron M. 12th grade
“I related to Treat when he said that all that he did was done to protect his brother, Phillip. This related to me because I do a lot to protect my siblings.”-Jacqueline C., 12th grade
“What sticks with me is that anyone can be given a second chance. People aren’t inherently bad and may make questionable decisions and actions, but perhaps out of necessity. As human beings, we should learn be more sympathetic and understanding of all people.” – Alexander Z., 12th grade
“I was most surprised at the amount of time that had passed before intermission. I had thought it was a short moment, when it was really almost an hour.” -Kevin K., 12th grade
“The whole play was simply amazing and odd in a good way. If I had to choose specific aspects that most impressed me, it was the writing/dialogue, and the acting. I would love to write something as good as this.” -Ricarlo B., 12th grade
“Phillip reminded me of myself when I was too young to go outside alone and had to fill to the void of being inside through television and staring out the window at the street and people below.” Alex, 12th grade
The Boys from Democracy Prep Middle School
Early Stages brought 60 students to see Orpheus Chamber Orchestra last Saturday evening at Carnegie Hall. A group of 6th graders from Democracy Prep Middle School had a “Boy’s Night” at the orchestra and here are what the boys had to say about the concert!
We spoke with some of our students after the show; see what they had to say in this video.
Giovanni J.: “The music made me feel relaxed. The fact that I went to Carnegie Hall and saw live classical music performed will stick with me. Nothing could have made the experience better.”
Mohammad J.: “Kahane’s piece, Gabriel’s Guide to the 48 States stood out because it was emotional. The place, the set-up—everything was great.”
Jonathan T.: “The hard work they did and the wonderful music will stick with me from the performance. This experience will make me work harder in life.”
Rahieem N.: “Gabriel’s Guide to the 48 States was my favorite because it told a story. It made me feel calm. I think I will start to play more classical music to calm myself down.”
Our Video Reviewers
CJ S.: “I liked the second song because it told a story. It made me feel happy but also sad. I might try to join the orchestra one day.”
Mamady C.: “My favorite piece was Gabriel’s Guide to the 48 States. It had different instruments, such as drums and violins. It also told a story. The performance was great.”
Last Wednesday, we brought 60 students to see Peter and the Starcatcher at their new location at New World Stages. Here are what the students had to say about the show:
Domonique W: “The show reminded me of being alone with no family, because I’m in foster care myself. I remember everything, but especially Peter and Molly’s connection. The show reminded me to believe.”
Sarah M: “It surprised me how much I related to Peter about not having trust in others, not wanting to grow up, and Molly about wanting to be a strong woman. When Molly says ‘if it hurt, that means it meant something,’ I actually cried.”
Cerrine B: “The show reminded me to never be discouraged and that I have a purpose. I have never been to an Off-Broadway show before, so I was very impressed with how great it turned out to be. I learned to never give up and never let anyone tell you you’re a nobody and that you aren’t important.”
Emanuel P: “I was reminded how much fun you can have with friends and that even though things can look rough at times, your friends can help you through. The set and awesome auditorium really surprised me. I remember the amazing detail and creativity of the show. With just lighting and a string they could transform scenes and situations. To tell you the truth, I loved the whole show. I was invested and laughing from start to finish. I think having great friends in life is what will stick with me.”
Ahmad A: “I was most surprised that most of the sounds were created by two musicians. I remember how sad it was that the boys had no parents. I will start thinking about the consequences of having dreams come true.”
Tasha G: “The scenery where they were in the jungle with the green leaves and the water reminds me of back home in the Caribbean. My favorite scene was when Peter and Molly were saying their goodbyes in the end. The sacrifices Peter made so he could see Molly again will stick with me.”
For more student responses, check out our video reviews here.
“I didn’t even know about Early Stages before today. I thought the workshop would be boring but it was great! I learned that the actors on stage can hear the audience and movement can be distracting to them as well.” Daphne
The Early Stages Live Theater Program (LTP) Workshops offers students an educational, versatile, in depth preparation and exploration of the live theater experience.
Over the past week, I conducted four pre-show workshops with three of our newest LTP partners: Frederick Douglass Academy, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, and Greenpoint Youth Court. Our primary goals for the pre-show workshops are to ensure that the students feel comfortable when they arrive at the theater and understand what to expect and what is expected of them. Also, since these groups are often not from a single class or even from a single grade, we work to foster a sense of community within the group
The activities are structured so that they engage students and allow them to ask questions and come to their own understanding of expectations. I began each workshop through warm up theater exercises like “Raise Your Hand If…” to get to know each of our new groups as they learn more about Early Stages and me.
For one of the introductory activities, the students were led through guided imagery in a listening activity to observe the sounds around them. This activity grounded them in the room and opened up all the minor details we take for granted on a daily basis. “My favorite part was the listening part because there are really a lot of beautiful sounds around us that we don’t realize because we are busy, always on the move.” Bobby J. The next step of the activity had them repeat the same listening activity but this time they opened and ate a hard candy while observing. Students quickly realized that it was harder to concentrate and that the sounds from their first observation were washed out by the crinkle of wrappers and the “chomping” of their neighbors. When asked how it would affect a live performance, students were able to make connections between the distractions created in their classroom and what similar affects it would have at an amplified theater. “The listening exercise was my favorite. I learned that the littlest sounds coming from the audience can affect the concentration the people around you.” Deatchra
In small groups, the students planned a timeline of what they would need to do when preparing to attend a performance and a list of questions they need answered before going. Almost all the groups stated that you should arrive early but they were not aware that many theaters have different late seating policies and that they could possibly miss parts of the show. Through discussion and sharing, most questions were answered by the students themselves, especially any questions about eating, which they were able to relate back to the hard candy exercise and how food would be disruptive. “My favorite activity was the timeline because it preps us for the actual day so when we go we won’t be late.” Diamond
Out of all the activities I led with the groups, Theater Bingo was by far everyone’s favorite. “The seating activity was my favorite because it gave me an outlook on how theaters seat people.” Glenn M. Although each group had a seating chart from a different theater, at the end once every group got Bingo we posted them in the front of the room so that students could see the pattern and similarities between the levels and seating in all the theaters. We discussed the format and how the similarities not only make it easier and faster to seat people but that when they visit a theater, they will have a general idea of the layout. At almost every show I greet and hand out tickets to students, I get asked why two friends got seats 1 and 3 because they want to sit together. Through Theater Bingo, students came to this discovery on their own before even entering the actual theater building.
Yesterday, I attended Peter and the Starcatcher with 30 students from Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow for their first performance as a group with Early Stages. You could see the confidence in their faces and posture as they walked into New World Stages. I cannot wait to see that same sense of belonging when we bring Frederick Douglass Academy and Greenpoint Youth Court to their first shows!
Kelly Delaney is Early Stages’ Live Theatre Program Manager
Spring was certainly in the air. I returned to MS 145 with teaching artist Joy Kelly, and the students were excited to get back into our Storytelling activities after two weeks off! This week the lesson changed slightly depending on the room; Joy was able to gauge the needs of the students and adjust her activities accordingly.
Students increase their improvisation and observation skills in a Hitch-Hiker Game
During our first class, we introduced the idea of creating stories from personal experiences. Students were first asked to tell their life story in fifteen seconds, which was quite challenging for many of them! Some students chose to describe important life events, while others focused on where they grew up, and where they live now. I realized that you can learn a good deal about a student based on what they choose to share when given a short amount of time to do it! They then wrote down one thing about themselves that was true and one thing that was not true, and the class had to guess which one was not true. The answers were surprising, and the students learned quite a bit about each other! This was a great way for the students to speak in front of the class, share their own experiences, and learn about their classmates. This will eventually lead to the students creating a short memoir piece next week.
The focus shifted slightly for our second class, and we reviewed some terms that the students needed to become more familiar with. We worked on vocal inflection, gesture, and facial expressions as we played a hitch-hiker improvisation game with the students. We placed four chairs in front to mimic a car, and the students picked up a “hitch-hiker” that had a specific character trait and action. The other students in the car had to pick up on this trait and join in with it. Some students picked it up right away while others took more time to do so. They had a blast and were so creative!
Students practice facial expressions while creating a frozen image of an fictional family
We continued with the hitch-hiker game for the following two classes, and changed the objective based on what the students already knew about the important terms. Some of them needed to focus on conveying vocal inflection and facial expression, so we had them pick a character trait that would focus on these elements. This really improved their understanding! Also, Joy chose to tell a story to one of the classes that relied heavily on vocal inflection. The combination of her story and their direct practice through the activity really helped them to understand it better.
We wrapped up the day with our bi-lingual group, where we continued to work on frozen visual images and family portraits from our previous session. They needed more time to fully grasp this concept. The students really enjoyed working on this activity, as it allowed students with a limited English vocabulary to express themselves physically. They then were able to explain their portrait and their family using both Spanish and English. This was a great way for them to practice their English, learn about the power of physical imagery and be creative!
This week we celebrated Arts Advocacy Day on Tuesday, April 9th. It was a day to tell everyone, most importantly our political representatives about the importance of the arts and arts education. Involvement in the arts improves graduation and employment statistics, raises test scores and bolsters student confidence, and students who participate in arts education enter into society more closely engaged with their peers and communities.
At Early Stages, we see this engagement on a daily basis in the students we work with, and the effects of a quality arts education stay with our students even after graduation. One teacher said “Early Stages has changed how our students see the world around them and have motivated them to personally change things for the betterment of their communities. They feel extremely proud of themselves. “
Many of the studies and figures released in recent years corroborate what we have noticed in the students we work with.
- Results from our online educator survey show that involvement in the arts improved student performance and participation across the board.
A comparison of High and Low Arts Involvement among Low Socioeconomic Status students shows that 37% of High Arts involvement students volunteered in their community.
“The reason our students selected Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS as the beneficiary is because they love Broadway and wanted to give back. Their admiration for Broadway would not have been possible without Early Stages’ generosity and great relationship with the NYC Job Corps Centers.“
Michelle Correa, a former Early Stages participant, told of how her involvement with Early Stages has led her to seek ways to give back to her own community. Anthony Buckland, another former participant, stated that he would not be the person he is today without Early Stages. He explained the importance of an education in performing arts, arguing that “to develop tomorrow’s leaders and ingenious thinkers, our students must understand the expression of human creativity and imagination.”
“A student involved in the arts is four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement.”
Check out our blog on LoMA attending Hands on a Hardbody to celebrate their honor roll students:
“Students who are involved in the arts are three times more likely to win an award for school attendance.”
Perfect Attendance rewarded at Peter and the Starcatcher
All the facts quoted are from the e-book “Facts & Figures” by the Americans for the Arts which can be found here.
What’s next? Tell Congress that you support the arts!
For more facts on arts education, please visit Early Stages’ Impact page.
Early Stages’ Executive Director, Jackie Pine, and I, Kelly Delaney, Program manager participated in the Arts in Education Roundtable’s 2013 Face to Face Conference last week. Face to Face, or F2F13, is an opportunity for arts administrators, teaching artists, teachers to learn best practices, exchange ideas and brainstorm about the large and small issues that face in the field. Over the course of two days and five different sessions, the Roundtable presents over 33 workshops led by today’s top leaders in arts education, more than even 2 people from one organization can attend. The toughest part about the conference is that there is such an array of workshops offered but you cannot attend them all at once!
Thank you to everyone at the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable for planning, organizing and executing such an awe inspiring conference. This includes all the speakers, Rebecca Shulman Herz, Dr. Jonathan Gottschall, James S. Catterall, Ellen Winner and Sarah B. Cunningham. Also, thank you to Jody Gottfried Arnhold who was honored on Wednesday night.
Thank you to all the organizations and people that presented that we were able to attend, including ENACT , DreamYard, Everyone at the NYCDOE Office of Arts and Special Projects, Mr. Paul King and Peter Avery, Lincoln Center Institute, Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute, Metaverse Mod Squad, and City Lore.
On February 13, Early Stages had the pleasure of taking 70 students to see Paul Taylor Dance Company during their New York City run at Lincoln Center! The company performed two pieces from their repertoire, Cascade and Beloved Renegade, as well as the NYC premiere of To Make Crops Grow.
All our Early Stages students that saw the performance are current dance students in their schools’ after school programs. Even though they are dancers, more than half of the students had never seen a professional live dance performance before.
This performance introduced the students to new choreography and inspired them to think about dance in new ways. Seeing the Paul Taylor Dance Company gave the students new determination to work harder.
Here are what our Early Stages’ students had to say about the performance:
“Seeing the dancers perform steps that I have learned in class showed me how much more I can improve my expression and skill.” -Iyelha, 9th grade
“I couldn’t take my eyes off the dancers!” -Ashley, 10th grade
“I thought about the commitments the dancers made throughout their life and I thought how that could be me someday.” -Anika, 8th grade
“I am going to tell my friends that the Paul Taylor Dance Company put on a wonderfully choreographed, expressive, and graceful performance.” -Hynnia, 11th grade
“The performance was spectacular! I saw a lot of the steps and combinations we had learned in class. As a result the show was beautiful.” -Renay, 12th grade
“It was fascinating because we learned a lot of the moves in class, and it was great to see it all in choreography.” Amber P., 12 grade
“All the pieces were my favorites because it was beautiful how all of the dancers expressed their feelings and put them into the dance.” -Sophia M., 7th grade
“I would describe it as amazing! I am going to tell my friends to go and experience it for themselves, and become engaged with each performance.” Kiani, 6th grade
“The Paul Taylor Dance Company’s performance was a breathtaking experience! I will recommend it to all my friends.” Tia W., 7th grade
“The music in the 2nd and 3rd pieces was awesome. I loved the opera and the costumes were amazing!” Destiny G., 7th grade
“It was a very excellent show. My favorite piece was “Beloved Renegade”. I saw dancers that were moving freely. They let go and just let the dance take over.” Keyana, 7th grade