DAREarts Blog

Discipline, Action, Responsibility, Excellence

Building a "round" performance: DAREarts Vancouver, Day Five

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Post written by DAREarts Lead Teacher & Director of Urban Programs, Geneviève Anthony. 

On each DAREarts Day the students are encouraged to explore and strengthen a sense; to touch the felt of their button blanket, to hear the drum, to savour their meal, to smell the rain and to see.

Collaboration and cooperation are the key to a successful performance.
Photo courtesy of Kjersten Saude.
On December 8th, 50 children from 4 schools will come together to create their collage interpretation of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” at the Vancouver Opera. With so much of this year’s program being circular and spherical in nature, the story’s journey is being presented in “the round” theatre. “In the round” removes the 4th wall and challenges the collective to engage the audience from all directions.

DAREarts teacher Shelley MacDonald and artist-as-teacher Linda Carson identified how the students’ process must be supported through strengthening their peripheral vision. Peripheral vision is the part of vision that occurs outside the very center of gaze. Athletes and performers must be aware of what is around them in order to be safe as well as entertaining.

Shelley begins the drumming session with the class.
A grounding heartbeat was created with Shelley as she drummed with a portion of the class. Linda facilitated a communication activity. Both were so engaging and fun that the discomfort of making eye contact and listening was negligible. 

From here our Artists/Teachers challenged the group to create collage tableaus that depicted the story of “The Magic Flute”.  Throughout the process, numerous times the group had to be reminded that they were performing in the round and therefore had to be conscious of the full space. No one in the audience wants to look at a performer’s back over and over again.

Students contemplate their space on the stage as they prepare for their performance.
Photo courtesy of Kjersten Saude.
I was curious as to why balancing the circular stage was such a challenge for the group, especially when the audience was sketched in by volunteers and teachers. Stepping away over lunch I ruminated over how linear our society is. Our children watch TV and play video games on flat screens, they walk to school on straight flat sidewalks, their desks are aligned and everywhere I looked I saw flat direct square directions, shapes and frames. No wonder creating a 360 degree performance was challenging!

At the end of the day the DAREarts staff was informed by a student that members of the class were connected to the Suicide Pact that has recently made National News. Thirty Aboriginal Students from Vancouver’s East Side were found to be contemplating suicide collectively via Facebook. Coming from Ontario I know to look to the Northern remote reservations of K.I. (where 8 children were left orphans after their parents committed suicide) and Attawapiskat where the housing situation made the news. My vision has not veered into our cities and the “Urban Rez’s”. Clearly, it is not just my student’s vision which is flat and unseeing, but I too need to open and stretch my eyes.

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