Monday, March 28, 2016

performance art with kids



In the two weeks before our big move, our co-op conceived, wrote, created, rehearsed, and performed a collection of performance art pieces on the topic of animal rights. At times, it really felt like we had taken on too much (packing a pod, finding a new house, painting canvases, researching, making shadow puppets, getting some animal dental surgeries taken care of...oy!).

But, I kept thinking.

When we are in the toughest moments of our lives, what is the first thing to stop?

Usually the thing you need the most (art, eating properly, writing, hanging out with friends). Does this happen to you, too? So, whenever I thought, "oh! this is too much!" I readjusted my thoughts and said, "this is exactly what we need to be doing." By engaging in such a creative and important project, we were able to deeply connect with our very dear friends who we would be leaving soon. We also kept so busy that we were able to make our move with minimal emotional upheaval.

It was a whole different way of approaching life, and I am sold. Keep the art when stresses are high and you will come out the other end with fewer scratches.

I have included some notes on our project, because I am committed to sharing exploratory, project-based learning with older kids on this blog. There is a lack of middle and high school homeschooling representations online (please share any resources you like), and I will try my best to report on the ideas and approaches that work for us. 




Background
Animal rights are not a new subject for most of the kids in the co-op. We have supported a Florida based sanctuary for chimps coming out of the entertainment industry, my kids have created signs and protested outside the circus, we have had heated discussions on the use of Orca whales at Seaworld, and several of the kids have become vegan. These kids love animals! 

We talked about all the ways you can protest and bring attention to issues that are important. From passively leaving zines in public, to holding signs, to supporting (and pulling support from) organizations, to sharing your personal story and to creating artwork and perforative experiences. As a group, we decided that we wanted to create an evening of performance based art to share the spectrum of our beliefs and stories. 

What?
We had three groups of kids (2-3 each) who each created a performance piece. They chose to work with issues surrounding animal rights. Veganism, animal testing, animals in entertainment, seal hunting and the arctic and the big cats of Florida were all showcased.

The kids made zines, wrote poetry, wrote a shadow puppet play, and created dialogued content sharing pieces. They also painted canvases to decorate the gallery and auction off, cooked a few vegan goodies and passed out samples of homemade laundry detergent. After the performance, which lasted approximately a half an hour, people were invited to stay, mingle through the gallery and chat - which they did!~

Why?
It is important to know, that the topic and the shape of the performance was kid driven all the way. And during the whole project, I kept thinking how amazingly lucky these young people were to have such support for their voices and ideas. They created knowing there would be a real audience at the end and that their work could impact and change minds. They were taken seriously and the key to the power of possibility was placed firmly in their hands. What a gift for tweens/teens!

How?
We hired a local theatre instructor and rented a space to meet. Both of these were relatively inexpensive because we have relationships with the women we worked with. You can do this on your own too. There is no reason you can not meet in the park, the library or your own living room. And you can lead the kids yourself, we just wanted to offer our kids the chance to work with another adult mentor. 

We met 3x a week for 2 weeks and ended with the performance. Our schedule was squished together because of my family's impending move (originally we were going to spread the class out over 6 weeks) and I think that the energy with this compacted schedule. I am not sure it would have been as sustainable and passionate if we took longer. We were consumed daily with the causes that were so important to us, and it drove us to get our work done. 

Where?
We have a local arts organization that opened their doors and invited our troupe to perform. We packed the space with our friends, families and ripples of personal connections throughout the community. The kids were amazed to see so many people come out and support their work and their vision. The raised hundreds of dollars through art sales and donations that went directly to the organizations they chose. And they have been invited to perform at other local arts festivals. This just might be the beginning for them! 









Saturday, March 26, 2016

{lab} start your spring with poetry


We just moved from Florida to Connecticut. In Florida, we were already using the AC to cut humidity and heat. After our first week here, we woke to this magical scene. A spring snow shower, it is called. Many of you already know about this and a fair amount of you might groan at something like this (especially after a winer full of them!). But my kids woke up and started singing (a nice rotation of Les Miz and Christmas carols) and running outside in their PJ's to start a day of play. They knew it would not last more than the day and were determined to eek every last drop of essence from the snow. 

Poetry does that for me. It heightens my senses and makes my kaleidoscopic eyes rotate to see everything new and different. Its distillation of words and razor sharp (at times) clarity of idea hits me with a sort of urgency of emotion. A well chosen poem can begin/end my day with the punctuation of closure or an unravel an open weave to my thoughts as the day wears on. My kids find comfort and laughter and sadness in all their favorite poems. The language, rhythm, and imagery create rooms of familiarity and comfort as they drift off to sleep.

This lab is a small invitation to invite poetry to your table for the month. It is nonacademic and was written with curiosity and exploration in mind. I have attempted to include a wide variety of poets (it is not all Mary Oliver) mostly contemporary but not all. Each day, you get a poem to read, copy, respond to, share.... There will also be a handful of simple craft-y ideas as well as some writing games and maybe a few surpasses along the way. 

I hope you will join us. You can do that here

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

{copy work} act




The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is mere tenacity.

The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do.

You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.

Adventure is worthwhile in itself.

Amelia Earhart

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

where in the world?



Big life changes are afoot around here. I am postposing my usual spring section of Dream Lab because we are in the midst of living out a big dream right now. We are packing up our house, hopefully getting close to selling our other historic home, and moving to Connecticut! My husband was offered a great job and we are all so excited to be living within commuting distance to NYC and Boston. I am looking forward to a year of discovery and exploration as a family and in my own work.

I hope to chronicle the move in this space, so check in to see what our big, weird family is up to. We set sail in 2 weeks and have every minute until then packed with logistics, family + friend time, and some performance art too, because, hey, why not?

_________________

I have just finished up coaching a handful of clients and loved, loved, loved the experience. My calls were on Sundays and always felt sacred and like going to church. You can sign up for a 3 session kickstarter offering in my shop. If you bring your attention, intention and energy to our calls, I will challenge, support and disrupt your journey (in all the best ways!).


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