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
Rachel Abraham is working as a Spring intern with Early Stages through NYU’s graduate program in Educational Theater.
On Monday, March 18, I returned to MS 145 with Joy. We talked about the different kinds of families that exist in our lives and then talked about fictional families. In our discussion, we focused on gestures, point of view, facial expressions, and vocal inflection. The students recognized that they use these communication skills in their everyday lives, and furthermore that they can be employed to enrich their educational experiences.
Students create a frozen image of a family of "big shots"
The students loved relating these concepts to families from old television shows. I was surprised, but many of them actually knew The Munsters! We talked about how different members of a family might speak or act in comparison with other members of a family, especially in terms of the concepts we had discussed.
Then the students broke out into groups and were each assigned a fictional type of family to explore. We had families of wrestlers, cannibals, introverts, and many others. We encouraged them to establish relationships with their “family members” and to explore how these are influenced by their specific family trait. With some coaching, they were pretty excited to play their imagined roles! We had a grandma wrestler, a toddler cannibal, and various other silly family members.
Students create an image of a family full of silly people
After figuring out how they fit into the family, the students got on their feet to create family portraits. We reminded them to think about how gestures, point of view, facial expressions, and vocal inflection can be integrated in their family image. After the various tableaus were solidified, the class had to guess what their distinguishing characteristic was. This stirred up quite a bit of laughter as students watched their classmates in action!
After the family portrait activity, Joy shared a scary story about a boy who got pulled underground by a disembodied hand! The students loved it. We then discussed how Joy used vocal inflection, gestures, facial expressions, and point of view to tell the story. In keeping with the theme of family relations, we proceeded to talk about how the story would differ if told from the perspective of the boy’s mother.
It was inspiring to see how the students drew connections between the concepts and their lives. They showed a strong grasp on the key terms, were able to provide examples, create a unique piece of theater, and have fun while doing it!
Last week, 300 Early Stages students had the pleasure of attending Hands on a Hardbody. Check out what some of our students had to say about this new Broadway musical:
“The last song will stick with me because the song said ‘If you want something, you have to put your hands on it’ and you have to hold on to what you want.” -Teuzin, 11th Grade
“I was not sure what to expect going to see Hands on a Hardbody. It turned out I liked it a lot. The music reminded me of the music I listen to everyday.” -Emily, 10th grade
“Hands on a Hardbody reminds me of my faith and of working diligently for what I love. It will stick with me to keep my hands on who and what really matters to me. To not let go of those who I love and to not neglect who and what is truly meaningful.” -Manuela, 10th grade
“The final message is something I truly agree with and live by. If you want to accomplish something others may want it too, but you can’t ever let go of your dreams.” -Jenny R., 12th grade
Keep an eye out on our YouTube page for video reviews from our students! We cannot wait to bring 100 more students to see Hands on a Hardbody next Wednesday!
Did you know that students that participate in the arts are 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement?*
On March 3rd, Early Stages celebrated 35 honor roll students from Lower Manhattan Arts Academy (LoMA) and brought them to see Hands on a Hardbody! So far this school year, LoMA students have seen Peter and the Starcatcher, Mamma Mia!, The Phantom of the Opera and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. Congratulations and keep up the great work!
*From the American for the Arts study “Benefits of Arts Education.” For more information, download Americans for the Arts e-book, “Facts and Figures” here.
On February 20th, Early Stages held an assembly celebrating Black History Month at MS 145 in the Bronx. The program featured teaching artists Roderick Jackson and Joy Kelly, who were joined by students involved in Early Stages Talking Drums and Storytelling residencies. The video below shows some of the amazing work the students have accomplished in the classroom, as Roderick and his class are joined by dancers from the Alvin Ailey School.
You can read more about our residencies at MS 145 on our blog here!
Rachel Abraham is working as a Spring intern with Early Stages through NYU’s graduate program in Educational Theater.
On March 4 2013, I joined Early Stages teaching artist, Joy Kelly for the first time at MS 145. We did a series of storytelling activities with five separate classes. While the lesson plan remained the same for each class, the activities were able to be tweaked slightly in accordance with the needs of the room.
The kids began with a Tai Chi exercise and a song, which helped them relax and get ready for our lesson. Several of the students were familiar with the movements and song and eagerly joined along with Joy. They even helped me to learn the movements!
We then talked about facial expressions and body posture in storytelling. The students made frozen statues of someone who was mad, scared, sad, etc. It was interesting to see how each of the students portrayed all of these emotions differently. We talked about how storytellers can convey feelings in a variety of different ways, and that each storyteller is unique. This was a great way to get the students to start thinking creatively.
Ms.Joy Smith chooses volunteers for a storytelling activity
Joy immediately went into role and told the students about a robbery at Tony’s Pizzeria the night before. She reported that someone stole all of the pepperoni, and that five of the suspects happened to be in the classroom. The students didn’t miss a beat and joined in right away! They eagerly volunteered to portray the suspects and detectives. Each suspect was given a personality trait on a note card that determined the style in which they answered the question, and students had to make choices to showcase these traits in their responses to the detectives. The rest of the class had to figure out the character trait, and most of them were able to do so quite well! We talked about the choices that storytellers have to make when conveying different personalities and how that is conveyed for the audience.
Students of MS145 act as "suspects" and answer questions from their fellow classmate "detectives"
It was clear that many of the students understood this concept and were able to apply it to our next activity. After Joy told several short stories, the students were divided into groups and given one of the stories to portray. It was interesting to see how the students made connections between the previous activity and the current activity. They showed that they had a firm grasp on what it meant to make effective choices in front of an audience and told the stories with enthusiasm!
On Friday February 15th, Early Stages attended a performance of Blue Man Group with 50 students. With front row seats, our students were right in the middle of all the paint drumming, crowd participation and marshmallow eating fun! Here is what some of our students had to say about the performance:
“The show was full of unexpected surprises, just like my life. It was colorful and interesting.” Katherine C., 12th grade
“The show goes along with my imagination; it’s so creative. One of the Blue men kept stuffing marshmallows in his mouth and it just kept stretching. I will always remember that there are a lot of talents out there and you can expect anything in this world.” -Wendy F, 10th Grade
“The Blue Men were very funny. I got the spot light to sing the National Anthem. I was shocked, but they were just joking- I didn’t have to sing. Every time I see a spotlight now, I think of that day. I would like to see more shows.” Virgilio A., 10th grade
“If I were a Blue Man, my talent would be the music because I like to play the drums and some other Dominican instruments. I like to go to the shows, because I learn a lot and I want to learn more.” -Saullivanzo, 11th grade
Check out what another student had to say about the performance on video here.
We polled our teachers that have worked with our Live Theater Program for over 5 years and here is what they had to say:
Mr. William Anderson at Blue Man Group with his students
“Their enthusiasm at the end of the show– They are different students coming out than going in. The difference in their energy level is simply amazing. Even though it is usually late in the evening, the students are so super charged with energy brimming with things to say about the performance.” Ms. Betty Hintz, Teacher at Martin Van Buren High School
“The fact that they are so attentive, focused and really enjoyed the experiences. They cannot wait to tell their friends and family that they went to see a PLAY!” Mr. William Anderson, Guidance Counselor at Washington Irving High School
“The excitement on their faces when they witness the magic, artistry and theatrics inspires me to bring my students to the theatre over and over again. I get to introduce them to a whole new world and they love it! ” Ms. Tanisha Mumford, Middle School Dean at PS/MS 147Q
“Many students tell me that they are so happy to be able to see New York in a different way.” Ms. Michelle Spiezia, Guidance Counselor at Manhattan International High School
“I love that the students get to have a night out with one another outside of their neighborhood. It makes them feel grownup, successful and inspires them to explore the world outside their comfort zone.” Ms. Brooke Smith, Associate House Manager at New Victory Usher Corps
Ms. Boone at Carnegie Hall to see Orpheus Chamber Orchestra with her students
“It is thrilling to see them experience the arts, experiences that they normally would not have had the opportunity to see.” Ms. Ellen Boone, Teacher at IS 145Q
“Just to see their faces light up when the shows begin. Most students have never seen a Broadway show until Early Stages! Also their discussions after the shows are amazing. They understand more then what we think and they express themselves very well.” Mr. Nelson Resto, Business and Community Liaison at Brooklyn Job Corps
Ms. Hsu at Peter and the Starcatcher with some of her students
“Attending a performance by such world-class organizations is unparalleled. It makes my students gain confidence to be able to attend the performance, apply the musical knowledge they learned in the classroom, and make decisions about what they liked and didn’t like. Going to a performance also provides the opportunity to bond as a group.” Ms. Yeou-Jey Hsu, Assistant Principal and Music Director at Eleanor Roosevelt High School
“I enjoy bringing my students because they come from families/communities where they are not really introduced to Broadway theater. It touches my heart to see their faces light up and hearing them talk about it afterwards nonstop. Thank you for all you do for these children!” Ms. Melanie Rivera at PS 140 Eagle School
“Everything– Going into Manhattan, seeing a show and eating out are true growth experiences for my students.” Ms. Elissa Goldstein, English teacher at Queens High School for the Sciences at York College