Posted 20 December 2010 12:00 AM by Jessica Harms, Teaching Artist at Odyssey High School
Walking into Odyssey High School for the first day of our Artist-in-Residency program, we had no idea what to expect. It was long before we, as teaching artists, realized that we were working with a great group of kids. Everyone jumped in with both feet and got started singing and dancing to songs like “Seasons of Love” and “Luck Be a Lady Tonight.”
At first many students were nervous trusting us as new teachers, and were scared to perform in front of their peers. Stage fright was paralyzing, but as a new community we developed the trust required to support each other and put our fears aside. A month into the program, students started working on developing a performance that is about them, for them, and created by them. They began by learning the song “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas, and it wasn’t long before they were creating their own choreography to go with it.
Today all of their hard work led up to their first performance. The students were nervous, freshmen were especially scared of the juniors, and it was 7:30 in the morning (I think it’s hard for anyone to perform that early in the morning on a Friday). We warmed-up to shake out the fears, and soon it was time for the moment we’ve been waiting for. And it was beautiful.
Learning how to sing and dance at the same time is an incredibly challenging task on its own. But to put yourself in front of your peers, takes a leap of faith. Today the students found the courage and strength to do something that was once completely foreign to them, and they each jumped miles outside of their comfort zone. After class, you could sense the new-found pride in themselves and their abilities.
Looking back on this journey over the course of the semester, there were many ups and downs. But the things that I remember the most and affect me the most are always the things that are the hardest. For many, this was one of the hardest things to do, and seeing them grow as artists and people, is inspiring for anyone to see. And to hear them ask what they will work on next, is the only time I have ever wished to fast-forward through Christmas break, so that we can get back to work to grow and finish what we have already started.