On the evening of Thursday, March 5th, over 140 DAREarts Delegates gathered at North Albion Collegiate Institute in Rexdale to showcase their leadership to their families, teachers, and the community at large. Their time at DAREarts certainly fits the old saying about Canada’s favourite snowy season: if Winter comes in like a lamb, it goes out like a lion! The children started DAREarts as strangers from 14 Northwest Etobicoke elementary schools, each carefully selected by their teachers to attend our leadership-focused arts programming. After a few short weeks, strangers quickly turned into friends, and hesitance dissolved into confident, respectful voices. They were bringing their new knowledge gained at DAREarts back to their classrooms each day, teaching their peers and building their leadership skills. Their showcase, a “promenade through time,” was their chance to share knowledge on a larger scale using the DAREarts values of Discipline, Action, Responsibility, and Excellence.
With the stage fully lit, special guest speakers took to the spotlight to welcome the delegates and their families. After a brief introduction by DAREarts Founder & President Marilyn Field, Trustee Michael Ford commented on the respect and kind welcoming he received, having met with the grade eight delegates prior to the showcase. Mary Jane McNamara, Toronto District School Board Superintendent, then spoke, sharing the same sentiment and noting how important the arts are in the future success of our youth. Words of support and encouragement from Etobicoke North MP Kirsty Duncan were then shared by Marilyn Field. DAREarts Lead Teacher Laura MacKinnon then introduced the audience to the DAREarts Northwest Etobicoke Classes of 2015.
With each class representing a different era of history, the children led the audience through drama and dance pieces that weaved through time and reflected many cultures across the globe. The grade fours started the journey with the opening scene of William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, cued their own music for a delicate singing of the Chinese folk song “Jasmine Flower”, and then shifted into a fast-paced Afro-Cuban dance. The grade fives then stepped into the 17th and 18th Centuries, with expressive portrayals of the characters of Commedia dell’arte, the graceful Indian Bharatnatyam dance, and a coordinated round of their singing set to the Rejouissance from Handel’s Fireworks.
The grade six class welcomed the audience to the 19th Century, where they demonstrated stage combat using rapiers, sung the humorous and operatic song “Chili Caliente”, and performed a lively waltz and gigue. The grade sevens brought the show into the not-so-distant past of the 20th Century, where they amped up the volume with their West African drumming, an energetic singing of “Summertime” from Porgy & Bess, and the complicated moves of an Afro-Contemporary dance.
To bring the show into the current era, the grade eight class made a dramatic entry with a B-Boy/B-Girl breakdown routine, followed by a dramatic performance of the poem “And 2morrow” by Tupac Shakur. They were then joined on stage by Juno-nominated musician Glenn Marais, who accompanied the teens as they sang “Let the Music Free You”, a song they wrote together in just one DAREarts Day. As the last notes of their song played out, the other grades returned to the stage and together they sang a dynamic finale of Imagine Dragons’ hit, “On Top of the World”.
Like the many families in the audience, we are so tremendously proud of the children! They have worked hard to find their best possible selves and to show the world that they have a voice, they have hope, and they have the power to ignite positive change in their lives and communities.
We’d like to extend our deepest gratitude to our generous sponsors, including lead sponsor Northbridge Insurance, and major supporters Guy Carpenter, Scotiabank, TD, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, and the Ontario Arts Council. Special thanks also to all of our volunteers, including many DAREarts Grads and supporters!