Friday, November 11, 2011

A Performance of Talents

Amanda Compton, COT Teaching Artist at Reilly Elementary

During the past few weeks, the students at Reilly have done mostly group-based performing and singing exercises. But this week we decided to give them the chance to show us what they consider to be their own individual "talent." About 20 kids had the courage to take the stage in front of their peers and share their passion.

We had a very diverse showing of talents including singing, rapping, piano, dancing, and poetry. Taylor Swift was a popular performance choice, and was well received by the audience (they usually sang along with those performances!). One of the most impressive performances was a reading by one little girl of her own original poem. After she read it, the class voted to use it as the lyrics for one of the songs in the spring opera. This particular girl has been quite shy and quiet the past few weeks, and I can't begin to imagine how proud she must be to have her classmates affirm her talent so strongly.

A few kids weren't sure what they wanted to perform, but they were so eager to take the stage that they volunteered even when they didn't know what they wanted to do! Their desire to express and be a part of the fun was clear. Hopefully during the course of this class, we can enable them to embrace performing not as something that is scary, but rather as an opportunity to share with a receptive audience something that gives them joy.

The talent show was an excellent way for us to identify the students that already have some performing skills, and a great way for those students who are new to performing to get some inspiration from their peers. We had a very good turnout of parents who came to support their child's interest with video cameras and applause, and we even had them participate in an acting game the children have been practicing at the end of class. In a school with little funding for the arts, it was clear that Opera for All serves as the crucial outlet these children need to gain confidence in themselves and foster their creative instincts.

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