Youth in Arts kicked off an exciting semester of school-wide events at Olive Elementary School with two amazing days of dance and culture through our assembly and workshop program. Capoeira Mentor Artist Daniel Mattar and his International Capoeira Angola Foundation (ICAF) troupe spent a day with Olive Elementary School’s 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students in early March, and Shahrzad Khorsandi and the Shahrzad Dance Ensemble led a fun and informative day of programming in April. In sharing the art of Capoeira with the students at Olive, Daniel and two additional Capoeira artists began by playing music on their hand-made Berimbaus made of gourds and one string, and a Pandeiros (tambourine) while engaging students in call and response songs in Portuguese. After their demonstration, they brought several kids up on stage to practice Capoeira while practicing their call and response songs.
Following the performance and demonstration, each 3rd-5th grade class participated in an interactive workshop led by Daniel and ICAF. We began with mastering the key movements and control necessary to take part in capoeira safely. Some of the movements that we learned were: Ginga, Aú, Balança, Macaco, and Negativa. We then put our new knowledge to use with team exercises and some games of capoeira with a partner!
During the second assembly with the Shahrzad Dance Ensemble, director Shahrzad Khorsandi and three members of the ensemble performed a special series of dances for the Persian New Year that had been choreographed and designed by Shahrzad over the last several years. Norouz (“New Day”), the Persian New Year, represents new beginnings, rebirth, and renewal. Shahrzad Dance Company’s Norouz program for 2019, Symbols of Love, brought into focus the true meaning behind this celebrated event and gave students the opportunity to learn about the music, traditions, and cultural relevance of the Iranian holiday today. Throughout the performance, dancers portrayed dynamic characteristics associated with the symbols of: Sabzeh (“Sprout”) which is symbolic for rebirth, Seeb (“Apple”) which is a symbol of health, Samanu (“Wheat Pudding”) which is a symbol of sweetness, Sekkeh (“Coins”) which is a symbol of wealth and prosperity, and Norouz (“New Day”).
Following the performance, participating classrooms returned for a hands-on workshop with Shahrzad. During the workshop, Sharhzad began by showing a map of the middle east in order to find Iran and talk about the geography of Iran/Persia and how this geography has affected the music and dances of each region. We then started with movements from Luristan in West Iran, followed by movements from Azerbaijan in Northwest Iran. During a brief break we learned the Beshkan, a one-handed Persian snap that creates a sound similar to snappiing your fingers but much louder! After the break, we engaged in dance from the Bandar region near the Persian Gulf in Southern Iran and a Persian urban/social dance from Tehran, the capital, using contemporary Persian pop music. The students took turns coming out in the middle of the circle, 2 or 3 at a time, and practiced what they had learned throughout the day.
Youth in Arts is grateful for the collaboration of Principal Olynik, Olive Elementary’s exemplary 3rd-5th grade teachers, and the PTA for making these programs possible!
Mentor Artist and Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa’i recently concluded a successful residency at Ross School K-8, sharing: “Hula found its way to Ross School and it was a smooth, flowing journey. Chanting, percussion and melodic tunes could be heard down the halls every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and it brought smiles to many faces. It was the first time for Hula to be taught in Ross School and the students grew right into it!” Through dance and music, Shawna and her students journeyed to ancient sites throughout the island of Hawai’i, retraced the navigational routes from Tahiti, Hawaii, and New Zealand, where they learned the cultural protocols of a Maori Haka and gained a cultural perspective and understanding of the stories of Maui, one of Hawaii’s legendary icons.
When the Student Performance day came, Shawna says, “I could feel the energy of Aloha buzzing all around us! The kids were excited as their parents and guests took their seats. The kids all looked fabulous with their silk flower lei on. Kindergarten classes went first with their Hula, A Hilo Au. They chanted their hearts out and enjoyed being up on the stage (a star is born) … a very hard act to follow!”
She continues, “However, the rest of the classes stepped up to the lu’au plate and all did fantastic! We chanted, danced and delved into the sacred realm of Hula and reached our destination with awareness, grace, power and joy.” Shawna and Youth in Arts had a wonderful time working with Ross School and are looking forward to sharing and learning with these talented students again.
“Hulo to Ross School for such a wonderful opportunity!”