By Gabrielle M. Hamilton, Director of Education and Public Programs
School’s out for summer! As elated students bolt from school buildings, we want to take a minute to share some of the highlights of our rewarding arts partnerships with schools throughout the city:
• English Language Learners from ten different countries performing Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Flushing Town Hall’s stage for three outstanding performances.
• Having students shout out their song requests to the Sierra Leone All-Star Refugees during our school performance series at Flushing Town Hall.
• The thrilled parents from JHS 189 who waited for their children with flowers and balloons after stellar student productions of Mulan Jr.
• The concentration and precision of Korean dance students (who are just seven and eight years old!) from PS 303 C.A.S.A.
• The emotional parents who danced with their children and the professionals from Calpulli Mexican Dance Company at the Flushing Town Hall Gala while wearing the dance skirts that their children made during the I.S. 61 art residency!
• The beaming smiles of Forest Hills High School students after completing their dance residency and learning the program will continue next year.
• First and second graders from PS 214 “feeding” the Chinese lion dancers as they jumped for joy.
These are just a few examples of the jubilant power of an arts education. During this past school year, more than 10,000 students enjoyed our residencies, C.A.S.A. performances, exhibitions, and workshops, which celebrated our diverse community while providing meaningful connections between classroom subject areas and the arts. Students gained an understanding of the cultural context of our diverse Queens community while they explored careers in the arts and develop as lifelong learners of the arts.
The value of a rich arts education was explained best I.S. 61’s dance teacher Cheryl Singer-Galzur:
“Seeing these ladies gain confidence, and feel their own value at the end of the performance is really why I love being a dance teacher. This journey cannot be taught in a conventional classroom, but through experiences like the this (trying a new art form, making mistakes, making progress, taking direction, getting confidence to question, taking charge, practicing, helping your fellow dancers, performing, then realizing the impact you have on others). Working with you, Flushing Town Hall, and Calpulli [Mexican Dance] has been one of the best experiences of my career as a dancer and educator because of moments like this. Thank you for all you have done.”
And thanks, in turn, to all of our school partners who made this year in arts education one of our best years yet! We wish all of our school partners a safe and relaxing summer!