My computer sadly decided to end it's tenure with Dance with Ashley... after some silly moments of self-pity and some creative and killer financing, my ability to edit music, download videos, and spend time on my blog from the comforts of my own home has returned. I come fresh from an inspiring Chicago rehearsal at Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vermont where I was reminded of how important it is not only to give to our kids but to ask them to open up and give back.
I have worked with the students of Green Mountain on four spring productions and I am always impressed by the cohesive, close-knit community that Fritz Wendlandt and Cindi Austin seem to inspire in their students. These are self-directed kids who seem committed to having a good time, encouraging new folks to participate, and putting on a rockin' show.
This, however, does not mean productions always make their way to performance smoothly or easily. Students drop out, lines aren't memorized until tech week, and sometimes the show changes after cast lists have already been put up. High school theater is not for the faint of heart. I am feeling positive about our work this year, but part of this is because I feel comfortable asking students to meet me instead of carrying them along. These students are working as leaders. Chicago is a dance-heavy production and with our limited rehearsal time, I need the students to be cheerleaders for each other, as well as nags, reminding each other the details and encouraging best performance all the time, not just on opening night. My two dance captains, Margie and Leah, have dutifully stepped up not only as recorders of the choreography, but mentors of the movement, learning the steps in their own bodies and practicing their teaching in rehearsals with others. I worked with them both today in a dance with Rosie, the show's Roxie, and I was warmed by their own incredible work ethic and desire to be and look great. Their energy in contagious.
This rehearsal was followed by a tender rehearsal with Morgan, the show's Amos, learning his subtle and lovely routine to "Mr. Cellophane." I first met Morgan four years ago in a production of Anything Goes where he refused to join in on the dance and instead steered the ship as Captain. My heart exploded to watch him shyly dive into his ever-appropriate character dance today with Margie gently encouraging and being truly affected by his work. This is why we work with high schoolers.
I am committed to asking my students to give back by teaching each other, putting on their best selves, and realizing the work is bigger than the individual. How do we provide opportunities for students to be caretakers of the work, rather than just the beneficiaries of the teaching? Is this important to you in your work with students or in your relationship with your children?