[Forgive me, Ta-Nehisi Coates, for using your book title for this post.]
We did it!
Of course, it rained. One group got kicked off their site two minutes before their performance. An SUV parked in the middle of another group’s site right as their performance was set to begin. Several other groups had to solve last minute crises or make unexpected adaptations. Because of the weather I gave groups the option of not performing if they didn’t feel safe. Some opted out but many other groups rallied.
During the two weeks that we collaborated with the Leah Stein Dance Company making site specific dance pieces for Art in the Open Festival, I was reminded of how hard this work is. It is truly a beautiful struggle. Few eagerly embrace experiences that are foreign or feel uncomfortable. Herding entire classes of teenagers into a process that is new, intensely collaborative, and unexpectedly challenging requires about a hundred different skills.
I was discussing the challenges with Leah and she reminded me that I’ve written about this. The irony is that I was so absorbed by the challenges and the intensity of the work that I’d forgotten all about any previous insights! During our project I did remember that student learning is often not revealed until the end of the process, after completion and reflection. It’s a detail that can make the challenges feel that much harder.
But, we did it! They did it. Students immersed themselves in an artistic process and produced collaborative performances that required them to observe, communicate, and create in new ways. I hope you enjoy the photo gallery as much as I do.