Reflections From a Teaching Artist

Posted 5 December 2011 12:00 AM by Maurice Parent

During my residency at the David A. Ellis School, I am reminded of the freedom of youth. I feel that as artists much of our training is spent learning how to recapture that joy, spontaneity and freedom of expression that children have in abundance. I feel I’ve grown as a person, performer and teaching artist through my work with the combined 4th grade classes. In emphasizing to them the importance of teamwork and respect of your fellow performers, I am reminded of how important those things have been in my own performance experiences. In inviting them to inhabit the personality of one of Peter Pan’s Lost Boys, I marvel at how effortlessly they adapt characters when we adults need weeks of rehearsal. The poetry they write and questions they ask of the world are poignant and thought provoking. Students ask, “I wonder why people feel it’s alright to bully?” or, “I wonder why adults swear”, or “are mean to one another.” I am taken aback and realize that I wonder many of the same things. When they ask, “I wonder who made the world” or, “I wonder if the world will end”, I am in awe of how simply they ask questions that can spark heated debates among adults.

As we worked on our final presentation, their talent amazed me. I asked some students who expressed interest in dance to show me their favorite moves and the next thing I know I’m witnessing perfect head stands, front flips, coffee grinders and moonwalks. Other students expressed interest in Step and I asked them to go away and come back the next day with a step routine. They made up something that could have been in the movie School Daze. I also have to mention how wonderful the staff of the David A Ellis School has been. Be it the principal, teachers, councilors or administrators, all have been extremely helpful and supportive. I am honored to spend time in this school with these students, and am grateful for this teaching opportunity from Citi Performing Arts Center.

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