Friday, May 22, 2009

In support of Fine Arts

Working on: info for tomorrow's Author Panel
Listening to: Preview of Mandy Moore's new album
Reading: Home Again Jules Bennett

Tick another day off the list. I had a minor panic this morning when I had no internet but when I got back from walking the mutt, it was back and I heaved a sigh of relief. It is another crazy busy day but I am determined to get it done. I am only one person after all.

However my post today is a gush about the school spring concert that I attended (twice!) this week. Twice because half the classes go one night and the other half the next - it would be impossible to fit it all in on the stage not to mention parents etc. in the gym. Never in all the years of school have my girls been on the same night, by the way.

This year's concert was a musical, but not a typical musical. It was completely the brainchild of staff and inspired by the fantastic music teacher. Each grade developed their own segment based on something straight from their curriculum, under the umbrella title of what a wonderful world. Each class performance had three elements: dance or movement, poetry, and music. A local artist (and parent) oversaw all the costumes and they were simply marvelous. In many cases, the poetry or song lyrics were brainstormed by the children themselves.

I knew it was going to be good when the first act started with flowers, butterflies and bluejays dancing to Grieg. There were segments on gardening, under the sea, the cutest ever baby chicks (the kindergarten/primary classes), ancient egypt, fossils, and our responsibility to the earth. Two of the acts used blacklighting - under the sea, where the kids dressed in black and had gorgeous sea creatures that they danced across the stage, and fossils, where the kids were also in black with the glowing bones pinned on. The dance they did was fantastic. And their music was not sung - it was percussion and it was unbelievable. The final number's dance was percussive dance using only hands and feet. And again...fantastic.

I spoke to the music teacher afterwards because what struck me is this: Music is language and language is music and this presentation put it all together with a theme that was RELEVANT. That's a tall order. And she did tell me that the intent wasn't for a traditional musical but something that combined many of the arts - brilliant visuals, dance, poetry and the written word and music, all together.

Fine arts are often pooh poohed, but I am a firm advocate. We could exist without them perhaps but so much of our enjoyment from life comes from the arts. Do you listen to the radio? Watch tv? Read? Appreciate things like the ballet, painting, sculpture?

Art is what makes us HUMAN, not just biological creatures. Art is how we express ourselves to each other. To dismiss the fine arts as fluff is to dismiss our humanity.

When words of cuts comes down, it always seems fine arts are the first to go. And yet, when we see a production like I did this week, we are also the first to say how great it is.

Support the fine arts in your area. Go to a play. Purchase from a local artisan. Read books. There is much out there to be enjoyed.

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