Teaching Artists Reflect on City Spotlights

Posted 16 August 2012 12:00 AM by Matt Taylor

Every summer, Citi Performing Arts Center Education Department runs a program for young people from the Boston area where they learn leadership and job development skills though the performing arts. This year, three talented teaching artists worked with the City Spotlights Leaders on music, dance, and acting. Read their reflections below.

Lindsey Colelli, Dance Instructor I had the pleasure to work with these amazing leaders on creating movement pieces and learning choreography. Most dance classes, we prepared for stretching by warming up our bodies in a series of various repetitive movements or by reviewing dances that get the blood flowing. After we’d warmed up and stretched, we usually did across-the-floors that consist of movement done from one end of the room to an opposing point in the room. This allowed the leaders to become accustom to moving around in space verses stationary movement. Next, we’d move into choreography and end the day with reviewing.

It's been exciting observing the leaders' progression and helping them create pieces together. In the beginning, choreographing wasn't as easy for some of them, but, after doing some contact improve and viewpoint exercises, they were able to physically connect more with the stories they were telling and turn the movement into choreography. They were also super encouraging and supportive to one another, and those who are picked up choreography quicker than others helped out wherever and whenever they could.

They're a super talented group, and it was so exciting to see everything they created come together for the final performance!

Michael Maloney, Musical Director

I've been moved by the quality and quantity the summer leaders have produced. From the first day, many of them were willing to express and share personal work, a perfect example of the sense of respect within the community. I was extremely impressed by some of the student's innate craftsmanship in their melodic and lyrical abilities. Over the weeks, we worked on vocal exercises, technique, songwriting, solfege (do, re, mi's), and singing as an ensemble. I'm proud and was excited for the summer leaders, for their several performing opportunities around Boston. Halfway through the program, after singing a line in thirds, one student said, "I feel like we're a chorus!". Especially after this comment, I'm proud to be a part of this program, giving students an experience, and in some instances an introduction, to the performing arts, in music, dance and theater.

Akiba Abaka, Teaching Artist

I am always amazed at the tenacity and pliability of young people. Their bodies are changing, their minds are developing, and in this digital age their world shifts at a pace that is measured in nano-seconds. Throw into the equation a life invested in art and creativity and we have a perfect storm of teenage angst meets human development. Year after year at the Citi Performing Arts Center I have the privilege of experiencing this perfect storm as a teaching artist. This year, however, the storm rages a little bit stronger with winds that blow towards Social Change.

Our group of young thespians chose to tackle the subject of bullying as their unified theme. This is a fitting subject as their generation is among the first to be publicly impacted by cyber bullying, a world-wide movement towards marriage equality, the green movement, and the impact of September 11, 2011. One of the exercises used in devising scenes for this year's production asked students to imagine 30 years into the future and write a letter to their teenaged self about how they impacted the world through social change. This was a very complex and revealing exercise for the young leaders. They expressed specific accomplishments which they later realized were actually personal and professional goals.

The depth of the scenes presented in the production reflects a generation that is very serious about who they are and the contributions they wish to make in the future. They are aware of the problems in the world but more importantly they are aware that solutions come through proper training and preparation. This is the reason I choose to teach at the Citi Performing Arts Center. Here, I have the privilege of working with young people who are motivated, hungry and determined to attain the skills, techniques and discipline needed to express themselves artistically. As a teaching artist there is no greater gift than observing a young person discover the joy, genius and power of a play.

These three teaching artists have truly influenced our City Spotlights Leaders and we greatly appreciate all their hard work here this summer. We look forward to the years to come and celebrating the arts with more young artists and leaders! 

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