The Heart of the City – Young at Art 2012

 San Francisco has a long love affair with the arts. And as a city it makes arts education paramount to the students in the school district. For the past 26 years, the diversity of talent in all art forms has been celebrated at Young At Art, which this year was hosted by the DeYoung Museum. Performing Arts Workshop participated in multiple ways this year with the cooperation of some of our deep and focused partner sites, Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary and San Francisco Community School.

Amani Manning has spent nearly 2 years teaching and mentoring students at Charles Drew Elementary, teaching them Afro-Peruvian, Jazz and Hip Hop dance styles. While waiting to perform in the Koret Theater she and her students were able to take a few moments to take in the art of their fellow district wide students at The DeYoung.

It gave Amani and her students a chance to reflect about how different forms of art can be used for expression, and how elements of their own dance performances could be revised with attention to detail. The observation of attention to detail in the works of other students came up in discussion about stage presence and timing to more clearly express the message they try to convey for their dances.

The moments to revise and reflect right before their performance gave them the confidence to give a wonderful performance in front of a packed audience filled with their peers. On the way to the bus back to school, fellow SFUSD Students, teachers, and random people walked up to congratulate them on their pristine technique and passion for their art form. Their performance was truly inspiring and conveyed why creative expression through the arts is necessary for all.

  Dance wasn’t the only art form that drew attention from Performing Arts Workshop students. San Francisco Community School teacher Ellena Weldon believed that her students taught and mentored by Deaidre White had written and performed some of the best spoken word by students in San Francisco. A few select poems that were featured in last month’s Global Writes Slam at Visitacion Valley Middle School were submitted to the Literary Arts competition.

It turns out Ellena’s assertion that her students had written some of the finest work in the city proved correct. Her student Mariel’s poem “Yo” took 2nd place in the Middle School Literary Arts category. Although we only take the week to focus on how art functions as the bridge between critical thought and passion for students of all ages, let us remember that the true power of art is with us year round.

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