Tuesday, April 23, 2013

BACKING A YOUNG PERSON TO FLY: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING AN "ARTS ANGEL"

 "Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, "Grow, grow." - The Talmud
 
I recently went to see a 12-year-old friend of mine in her school production of the musical Bye-Bye Birdie.  It's a huge deal to be in a school show, especially a musical.  It takes months to learn all the songs, lines, and choreography.  I know it meant a lot to this young person that I was there to back her.  A whole posse was there to cheer her on,  and I know it made a big difference to her.  It takes a lot of courage to get up on that stage, and it feels good to know that folks are out in that audience rooting for you.

I've also committed myself to going to the school show of my four-year-old friend Lucy.  She's the daughter of one of my best friends.  Lucy told me that her class will be singing Bob Marley songs for their end of the year performance.  They have been rehearsing for a long time.  I told her I would be there.  I was also there for her first dance recital. 

Supporting the arts isn't just about going to Lincoln Center or BAM or Carnegie Hall.  It means hanging up young people's paintings and drawings front and center in your home or going to see their first dance or music recital.  It means listening appreciatively when they play the piano or sing around the house without worrying about how "good" they are.  Let them enjoy creating for creation's sake.

I think a lot of young ones give up early on doing these things because they quickly pick up on the idea that you have to be "good" at that thing. The emphasis in our society is on performance instead of enjoyment of the process.

When I was eight, my dance teacher let me choreograph my own piece for a recital and also come up with the idea for my costume.  I was going to be the sun in this dance, so my mom made a yellow satin leotard and then sewed red sequins in the shape of a sun on top of the satin.  She dyed my ballet shoes red and then secured long pieces of red ribbon to them so I could wrap the ribbons up my ankles.

I will never forget the experience of having a dance teacher that trusted me enough to have me choreograph my own  piece and design my own costume.   It has always stayed with me that an adult backed me to follow my own mind and implement my creative vision for something.

It's my aim to pay it forward by supporting the young people I know in their artistic endeavors simply by lending my attention to and complete appreciation for the intelligence and creativity they bring to the table.

Who are you an arts angel to?  Who could you be an arts angel to?
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