eager participants in a program called Arts Connection/High 5 Tickets to the Arts TRaC (Teen Reviewers and Critics). Armed with a pad and pencil, free tickets to some of the hottest art experiences in New York City, and teachers who have devoted their lives to expressing themselves in their respective fields, these young people witness, discuss and learn to write critically about visual arts, dance, theater, performance art, and music.
There is an army fighting for the arts out there, and they are high school kids from Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Staten Island and Jersey.
This past Wednesday I attended an open house for the group and heard direct from the mouths of TRaC Alumni what would be in store for any kid who enlisted this fall. Among the benefits mentioned by the group were these: We learn how to look at art and how it is made. We learn to write about it. We learn the difference between a critique and a review. We meet great people who like art just as much as we do. We expand our Facebook friend lists. We get to know New York City and familiarize ourselves with the arts venues here. We write essays of 300 words or more, but it is easy (not like schoolwork) because we love what we are writing about. We get to have discussions. We argue.
...one of the last (teen) speakers, reached into her bag to pull out a huge, newly published compendium on jazz.
Deep into reading it, she was quick to point out that it wasn’t an assignment.
She entered the program with a passing interest in folk music, now her concept of the field has blossomed.
One girl, vivacious with large hooped earrings, (she was the one who said she was part of an army for the arts-I liked her immediately) reminded her friends on the panel that in classes they didn’t just argue, they screamed. A self-possessed, soft- spoken young woman, one of the last speakers, reached into her bag to pull out a huge, newly published compendium on jazz. Deep into reading it, she was quick to point out that it wasn’t an assignment. She entered the program with a passing interest in folk music, now her concept of the field has blossomed.
I will be privileged to lead the dance leg of TRaC on their journey through the arts this fall. It is a position I am inheriting from Mr. Brian McCormick, a teacher and writer whose reputation around TRaC reminds me of that of an action hero. Almost every one of the students on the panel commented on how special he was to them, how he helped them to see an idea in a new way, or how a performance he had taken them to changed them forever. Great teachers are super heroes, aren’t they? I think of mine as such.
On my walk toward the elevator bank to head out, I met the “former interested in folk music -- turned avid jazz reader” gal and shared that I thoroughly enjoyed her presentation. We chatted for a bit. Her parting words were “how wonderful you get to dance and write about it.”
“Wasn’t that heavenly?” I thought.
As I left her brightness and descended to street level, one question persisted, specifically for the dance field, “Who cares if you know the difference between a critique and a review if no one is a hiring you to write one?"
Looks like we olders and wisers need to pull out our super hero capes to handle that. Mine is just coming out of the dryer.
Want to read some great stuff by Super Hero TRaC Students
the first piece is an editorial that I particularly liked and the second is a link to the Teen Reviews.
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