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…