Bold, Bright, Beaming Belfast School!!!

Like the Northern lightsbold, bright, beaming Belfast School students recently participated in my oldest story “The Skywatcher” with brilliant energy followed by a full body collective sequel all done in 75 minutes!!!  Teachers wove in and out of large student groupings doling out props as participants’ hands shot up in the air offering the next “magic three” sequence to see us through our new adventure!!!

 

The positive vibrations flooded the playing space with clever abstractions and insights. My drum resounded like my heart that overflowed with gratitude for this community of seekers!  “Is this really happening?” I asked myself as ideas flourished fearlessly in rapid succession with teachers as engaged as their students.

The creative mindset in this forward thinking school exuded in every hallway. Rich contrasting visuals boasted the latest forays where curriculum met the arts head on!!!  Oh, mamma!  Finely crafted kid centered representation was everywhere!

The very young mirrored their older counterparts hearing the same story in a smaller space gingerly forming body shapes while making object storytelling their focus for the sequel with treasures they got to take home!

I can’t wait to adjudicate the grade 5/6 projects.

They have been asked to create a theatrical design of my story!!!  I mean, WOW!!!

Thanks, Belfast School! 

My heart is bursting!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Light the Night with a Story!

Last night was amazing!  Nebulae!  Gravity!  Nuclear Fusion! 

Students and parents made a sacred storytelling circle and the Lower Elementary children from the Montessori School of Calgary celebrated their findings in a piece called “Winter Sky Wonders” and the “Heeja People”.

Pink Floyd back dropped their explorations as hearts and hoops flourished in the space providing Science links (star formation and how snowflakes are created) to Social Studies (Heeja culture and their fundamental needs).  Energized, open and committed to their summation, I watched on with joy and admiration for these brave hearts that dared to discover!

Upper Elementary students provided a multi-layered slideshow of their story entitled “The Fool’s Journey”.

Still shots captured their rich voyage through the complexity of emotional mapping the protagonist’s quest toward poignant revelations!
  

 

 

Intricately designed Spirit Masks brought other worldly magic and guidance for a Fool who needed to be reminded that perseverance was the key!

Story structuring to develop sequential events, message and character development culminated in an exemplary project.

Story Sample:

One last Spirit Guide appeared as old as the earth.  He was the one who talked to the people in need.

“When you think it is IMPOSSIBLE it IS impossible.  When you think it is POSSIBLE it IS possible.”

Student comments:

 “We worked on the techniques of low, medium and high.  We worked on the story of the fool using an emotional road.  I liked that it wasn’t strict.  Go off and make your own Spirit Guide.  You are able to choose what you wanted to do.”  (Christina)

“Fun! We got to move around. It is not something where you sit at your desk.”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It was a lot different than the other classes we have.  We actually got to play around and try new things and take a risk!” (Annabel) 

“It was very Creative.  We made Spirit Guides.  Our job was to find out what our Spirit Guide does in life.” (Alexie) 

 

 

 

 

“When you make up your own story it feels like you made something emotional and it was nice to do it.  I was grateful…in other schools you don’t get to do it.” (Ibrahim) 

“You said that I was smooshing different subjects together…Social, Language Arts.  I saw the different ways to learn.  It was really fun!”  (Lillian) 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Montessori School of Calgary for this affirming moment!

Presented with beautiful flowers….….that now adorn my dining room, I sit in awe of this rich and soul fulfilling work!  Spring will bring explorations with kindergarten children ending with a special tea and sharing.

                           What a wonderful creative world I live in!

New Year, New Life, New Facebook Account!!!


So I was packing away a beautiful Christmas decoration, my daughter’s favourite. A dear friend many years ago, Karen Jeffrey now Artistic Director of Sunset Theatre in Wells BC http://www.sunset-theatre.com, made it for me and I have loved it ever since.

I am not big on the word “chance”. I firmly believe that things are “meant to be”.  I thought, “I should connect with her.” After a quick email response she invited me to Face Time her on Facebook…..and it began…

First, I found out that my Facebook account was on Safari. Face Time is not offered on Safari.  I needed to change things over to Google Chrome.

I downloaded…I think, what I was suppose to, from a Youtube video that made it look easy.  Sure.  Something hit the fan!  But I was determined. I really wanted to talk to Karen through Face Time.

I tried to enter my Facebook account… It wanted my password….I couldn’t remember my password…

It promised me a code on my phone to change it…I didn’t get a code on my phone to change it….

The account became dysfunctional….I became dysfunctional!!  The account virtually froze…Then I blew up…

Most of you know I am a Luddite.  I am much happier with a chisel and stone (aka Fred Flintstone) than a keyboard and a computer.  And if you are REALLY close to me you know what kind of panic I can be in!  It’s stellar!!!  Right Nigel, Artie, Raena?

Over the course of 24 hours I managed to completely screw up my account so badly that there was no way to get back in.  Well, there might have been but I refused to ask for more help.  Enough already!

Completely defeated I watched Jim Gaffigan until 1 am. (my go to for frustrating moments), drank a glass of water and went to bed.

Why, why, why?  Just when I wanted to talk with Karen!

Coffee in my hand I was more determined today with a new attitude.  Fully dressed, with a bit of makeup on to perk me up I began with new hope.  Don’t judge!  Eyeliner works for me…that’s another story.

Before I knew it I had a new account and was reconnecting with this sweet lady that I had admired for years!

Karen’s pearl of a company has incredible offerings for artists like me encouraging creative exploration, partnerships and sharing. Wow!!!  With their hard earned efforts both she and her husband Dave bought this lovely property and have been housing artists, generating new works and nurturing their community for the past twenty years.  Her words of support flowed into my heart and I melted with humility…..I was in awe.  It was just what I needed to hear. What an incredible journey she has been on….one of faith, hope and utter determination.  What a gift!  No mistake….I needed to go through all of this to pay attention to the wisdom set before me.

Now, I will conjure ways to get to Wells BC propelled by my dear friend Karen.  “On the road again! Gee it’s great to be on the road again!”  Scary, I look more like Willie everyday!  Ah well, I guess I am aiming for character…hahaha!

Facebook friends are pinging me now…the re-friending has begun!!  I don’t think that’s a word…Where’s my chisel?  “Wilma!!!!”

My project “60up!” is moving!  Triple dog dare ya to come for the ride!

 

 

 

Le Roi Daniels School, spellbound!

545 sparkling faces greeted us at Le Roi Daniels School today spellbound from start to finish!   All dressed in Christmas colours (including the teachers) I looked out onto splashes of red and green as their energy flowed directly to me!

Thanks to Ms. Cathy Farr-Kokot (music teacher and an old buddy of mine) we were able to catch the enthusiasm with a few pictures.  Their impressive participation was sustained to the very end. “Must be restored!” they called out emphatically! I could feel tears welling up in my eyes!  They got it!  They understood the message.  Old things have value.  We must cherish them.

At our talk afterward, children listened to each other thoughtfully.  Some bravely stood in front of their peers asking intelligent questions or commenting on how they felt about the story.  I am talking K to 3, people!!!

“Was that story real, Lana?” many asked me in the hallway.  I reassured them that it was from my imagination.  That took a moment for them to figure out.

About five years ago I had the chance to do an Artist in Residency at this school. Those students are long gone but the pervading spirit of thanksgiving and genuine kindness permeated every corner of the building.  Hats off to Mrs. Andrea Taylor, the principal, for having a joy-filled community intrigued by story and happily willing to say so!  The never-ending hugs from staff and students was a topper to my day.

Now why am I tearing up?  Well, because when the work leads you to that kind of acceptance you need to take a moment and feel its glow!

“Keep doing this,” called out one of the teachers as he left for the day.

You bet I will!

Thank you Le Roi Daniels School!!!

 

 

 

The Fools have awakened!

The Fools have awakened!  What a blast!  The Montessori School of Calgary has continued to surprise and delight me!

I have learned that it is difficult to take pictures when you are belly laughing!

Our collective journey with the upper elementary students took major leaps forward as we simplified our ideas and just went for it!  Playing with balance and imbalance we embarked with hilarious results! 

Now the Fool is appearing in various environments, finding solutions to obstacles and getting stronger with each transition.

 

Emotional mapping is key to finding our way and the ideas were being offered so quickly…..well, as you can see by my scrawl…..it was exciting!!!!

More to come!  Much love to all of the students!  So much fun!!!!

St. James angels!

After 40 years of performance experience, I still thrive on reaching people one story at a time.  It doesn’t matter where I present or how many are listening.  Connection is everything!

I always ask myself,

“What is the purpose of the story?”

“How will I love the listener through the process?”

“How will I honour them?”

These questions are key.  It removes the ego or, at least, keeps it at bay.

(St. James Foyer)

There was a sea of children from kindergarten to grade six at St. James School today (thank you for booking us Carla Rea-Gilmour) who willingly gestured with me as I told my story “The Old House”. In one part I invited them to sing not knowing if they would be able.  They sang, “Oh Come all ye Faithful” with such heart that I stopped leading them and listened.  The joy I felt in that moment is hard to explain.  It wasn’t just MY story anymore, it was OUR story and they carried me through to the very end.

No longer a solo performer, the union made the story stronger.  I felt blessed!

The musical backdrop intrigued them so much that one class hung back after to show us their dance moves as Clayton Jeffrey shared some techno coolness.

I was hugged, talked to and thanked by the whole community.  I gulped at the amount of donations under their Christmas tree!  Given the generous welcoming people I met today, I am sure the hampers will continue to grow.

One little boy talked to me about how sad he was that some of the old houses were being torn down near him. His wide-eyed thoughtful compassion made me feel like I had been given a small glimpse into the world of angels with tremendous affirmation.

It’s these moments that sustain me.

Developmental Drama, connecting with the heart and mind

 

Arts in Education is a dance of the heart and mind.  If we care (heart) about what we do and structure our work to form a through line (mind) that others can understand the experience is fulfilling for both the participant and the observer.

Another magical moment swept into the Montessori School of Calgary as the Lower Elementary children took all past lessons and summarized skill, image and phrases.  They called out words (Nebulae, gravity, nuclear fusion, meteorite), defined star stages with hoops, showed snow formation with cloth and built a country landscape with shields.  I believe they impressed themselves!

Thank you, children, for the complete trust and enthusiasm!  Seventy-five minutes later we awoke from our creative haze with pride and excitement!  Next lesson the “No culture” will loom before us.

Fools are intriguing.  Folk tales around the world use the Fool as the anti-hero that has much to teach us through his/her trials and tribulations.  Clowning is near and dear to me because of my friends Fif and Hamish (MedDi Clown Academy) who have extensive theatrical backgrounds and a solid medical clowning practice in India.  Internationally known for their remarkable ability to alleviate pain and instill hope, they are masters in their Tom Foolery.  It got me thinking…..

What if the Upper Elementary students created a Fool story?  What if the Fool went on a quest to find his/her strength by discovering a spirit animal?  Could the mask they are designing become a guide in the journey?  So many choices!!!  Through emotional mapping the process has begun!

Sample:  A student offered a reluctant hero story.  Two kingdoms were having a competition.  The winner receives a good percentage of land and money from the other. Oh no!  Accidentally, the Fool was chosen to represent his country. The volcano obstacle just about finished him! An invisible giant snake saved the day….And this was just the beginning!

Sample:  Another idea stemmed from creating a sequel to the “Hunchback of Notre Dame”.  Brave story seekers found their way to deciphering what happened next in this rich possibility.

Sample:  Two other teams explored the role of outcast from a tyrannical leadership where celebrating individuality was punished.

Wow!

Get ready Upper Elementary students!  Red noses and silliness must return for us to find the great laughter that spurs the Fool on in treacherous times.  Every story must have its shadow and light.  Humour will heal us all!

One thing is for certain, all will find a transformative moment to celebrate and savour!

When heart and mind connect, the dance is as varied as its creator.  The rhythm and rhymes echo the messages that the teller must tell!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Invite! Ignite! Excite! (Meanwhile back at my Artist Residency)

 

Did you know that falling stars are really meteor showers?  Did you know that when they hit earth’s atmosphere they begin to burn?

After three short sessions we are bursting with strong images for our summation in January at the Montessori School of Calgary!!!  Reminding ourselves of the power of the circle we formed it in our hands.  I explained to the children that we are all equal members of creation.  How humbling it is to be with such open minds!

Did you know that snowflakes aren’t really white?  Did you know that there can be 200 crystals attached to one dust particle to make a snowflake?  Did you know that these fine students worked collaboratively creating giant snowflake images weaving cloth?

The neutral masks drew Upper Level Montessori students into stark and vivid images as they mirrored positive poses of power.

 

Soon after they delved into yucky mache work where dominant characteristics of personas they have yet to discover will play a prominent role in their collective study about democracy.

The sheer energy we receive from permission to exaggerate had us belly laughing over body leads!  There is always a reason for the fun!  Students quickly learned that morphing your body influences the character pulling us out of our comfort zone and into possibility.

 

What can this prop do?

Now how are we going to incorporate all of this inspiration?  These students were on fire!!!

                                                                  

At the end of the day the Lower Elementary children devised a story.  They were invited to create a land that required the basic needs. In one day, this is what they discovered:

Their make believe land where horses and dolphins are ridden for transportation have large houses accommodating extended family and friends.  A beautiful rain forest and numerous beaches surround it.  They are a happy and helpful culture of peace.  One day, “The No” people come.  They are negative and do not appreciate the “Heeja” way of life.    

All of this came from a simple game of toe to toe, back to back and face to face along with a discussion about why people argue.

Now ask me if I love what I do?  Let’s change the world with a story!

 

Take time to read a story

Do you remember listening to stories when you were little?  I sure do!  Dad always read to us.  I particularly loved putting my head to his chest while he made his voice go deeper. My sister and I would get hysterical. Bedtime was a problem after that. He was too much fun!

The tradition of reading to the family continued with my own.  My husband took over the role and we savoured the quiet cuddles with our children as they listened intently to the words.

Every time I had an idea for a new story, I would test it out at bedtime with my eldest son.  My daughter hadn’t been born yet.  That was when my stories were just beginning to form.  He loved them. He still does.  We were just talking about that over coffee today as he encouraged me to get some of my stories in picture book form. Hmm…….imagine that.

My daughter was introduced to my career before she was born! I will never forget performing for a teachers’ breakfast when I was eight months pregnant with her. It should come as no surprise when I tell all of you that she is training to be a musician and is a naturally intuitive actor.

Stories are such a powerful medium. I am so grateful to have three books to my credit. So many readers have told me how they like to take their time and read them with care. It is satisfying to know that they can feel the love on the pages.

The November sun will be setting soon.

I hope you take time to read a story today.

I hope you settle into your soft chair with the light glowing just enough to reveal the words on a page that will lift your spirits.

Much love to you all!

 

“Under the Winter Sky”, an Artist in Residency weaving sky science, democracy and seasonal changes

There is a jewel of a school tucked away on a quiet street called The Montessori School of Calgary near downtown.  The kindhearted staff and students have already embraced my work as we joined in multi-aged groupings to build star formations!

 

Benevolent leaders guided visions.  From gas particles to gravity pull and nuclear fusion a Protostar was born!  I am not kidding!  This was the first day!  Quickly we took large elasticized fabric and stretched our bodies into abstract and concrete forms. They celebrated community with the ties that bound them.

They built houses and flew freely.

The Lower Elementary students had plenty of giggles as we improvised comedic voices using “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. They have begun a journey about a grumpy senior who needs to learn to have fun. The UEs  delighted in the “Annoying” game personifying a star determined to earn importance in the solar system!

There will be so much more!

Celebrating the multi-cultural aspect of winter we will culminate our study in January! Picture silhouetted figures lit outside the school to invite the audience in from the cold night sky.  Perfect!

I left with the gentle snow falling softly on the empty playground.  The slow ride home made me think of how much I love to create.

Soon we will build winter spirit masks and invent our own constellations.  Soon I will be researching the winter skies and figuring out how to do a living installation of all that we will learn.

Soon…