Monday, March 9, 2009

One last group hug

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
"Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?"
Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.

It is not just in some of us; it is in all of us, in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

from "Return to Love" by Marianne Williamson

Day #7 and departure: the last days in retrospect

Friday was our last full day in New Orleans. The team had such a great experience with Habitat for Humanity that we decided to go back to the site Friday morning and surprise the other volunteers with beignets from Cafe DuMonde. It was also one last chance to say good-bye to those we didn't get to say farewell to.

I remain amazed as to how much we got done in 3 days. The entire first floor of a house was framed out and "hurricane proofed." The students really inspired me on this build. Their bodies are their instruments and tools for their craft and they just went out there and were determined to do as much as they could to get these homes built. They demonstrated the same focus and drive on the work site and they do in the practice room, in the studio or on the stage. Who says art has no place on a construction site?

After leaving the Habitat site, the team headed to the YMCA. One of my two favorite moments was seeing the team perform a song written by one of the kids from the afterschool program. Watching them perform with this child was simply great.

The next performance was at the First St. United Methodist Church where the group performed outdoors on a concrete patio for church members, the volunteers of United Saints First St. and anyone who felt like stopping on the street to watch. The kids from congregation also performed with the team.

The last performance was out in Violet, LA at Camp Hope, the housing site for Habitat for Humanity volunteers. The site supervisor was so happy that the team would travel 35 minutes to perform for them.

This was the team's final perfomance of "Imagine" by John Lennon. What a week it was. As I type this, my right hand and shoulder are still sore from hammering nails but I feel rejuvenated. Once again, I saw the possibilities of change and improvement and witnessed the healing spirit of art and how art can speak out and ignite a spark within an individual.

x/o, Sabrina

Sunday, March 8, 2009

New Orleans + 1: After

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans,
and miss it each night and day?
I know I'm not wrong, 'cause the feeling's getting stronger
the longer I stay away.

I woke up in New York this morning--okay, okay, at around 2:30 this afternoon--not quite knowing how I felt. On one hand, I had slept on a real mattress in my own bed. When I had to pee, I didn't have to wait on line for the bathroom for twenty minutes and barter with people trying to shower. I ate what I wanted when I wanted to. I watched some of the TV shows I'd missed during the week. I took a shower that lasted longer than four minutes, and took my sweet time shaving. I put on clean clothes.

And then I felt alone, a vague sense of something lost, the hard thud of Life As Usual falling back into place. That's the on-the-other-hand.

I keep trying to hold on to as many moments as I can before my memory blurs them at the edges:

little girls singing their songs for me and asking for mine,

boys who fancied themselves tough, hard-edged men laughing and working together while
learning Steve Reich's Clapping Music,

James tapping the potential of a bunch of young jazzers at NOCCA and igniting their sense of possibility,

a bunch of dancers, actors, and musicians--aren't we supposed to be delicate?--raising FOUR HOUSES AT ONCE and wailing the holy hell out of thousands of nails,

the INCREDIBLE performances we witnessed, from jazz on Bourbon Street to crunk brass on Magazine Street to the First Street Methodist Church Choir to original songs and dances by some of the kids we taught,

the cheers and smiles and tears of joy people gave us when we performed for them--hell, the cheers, smiles, and tears of joy we gave each other when we performed.

And oh, my god, those performances. All free, some outdoors, two in cafeterias, one in a gymnasium, one in our house's living room, all for small groups of people, all thrown together either the night before or in the vans on the way, and every single one more moving and more rewarding than the most prestigious performances in the fanciest venues I've been a part of or seen. I am in awe of every single member of our team.

If those shows are what we can do in twenty minutes, maybe art really can save the world.

Lots of love and hope,
Jeremy Beck

* * *

One of our houses the day we arrived--just a foundation and a floor. We stopped work for a few minutes to raise the first wall, helped by the woman whose house this will be. By the time we left, the entire first floor was complete.

Bree (a dancer), Christina (an actor), and I (a musician) harness the power of all three Juilliard divisions to sheath the second floor of a house-in-progress.

Team leader Chelsea dances for the Habitat crew.

Kris, Mike, James, and Melissa play some jazz.

Jamal and Bree dance a duet.

Returning team member Christina reads Maya Angelou's "I Rise"

Jeff dances as part of our Habitat lunchtime show.

Returning team member Alejandro reads an original slam poem about art and action.

Lekeisha (top) and Shawnell (bottom), the two young composers in my group. I am in awe of their openness, honesty, and kindness.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Day #6 part 2 - Last class day at the YMCA and performance for HONO.

Today was our last small group/class day with the children from the YMCA after school program.  There were many ups and downs with this part of our service trip but the NOLA Team kicked it in gear and ended the week on an "up." 

 A YMCA student takes a photo of some Juilliard team members and some classmates. 

Mike from the "green" team gave some of the youngsters a short lesson.

The "red" team learned a dance from their kids.

Jamal and the "red" team taught the kids, "Dum Dum Da Da."

The "blue" team taught their students Clapping Music.

James from team "orange" gives a trombone lesson to some energetic musicians.

Yvonne from team "orange" worked on some props and scenery for their group.

Today was also the last night for some of the other volunteers that we are sharing a house with, the Loyola Chicago med students. So, the team produced an informal performance for our new pals at the HONO Volunteer Bunk House.  Bree, Jeff and LeBaron perform an excerpt from "Uno" by Ohad Naharin.

Clint and Virginia perform a scene.

The Juilliard team with the Loyola Chicago med students.

Day #6 part 1 - Saying Farewell to Habitat for Humanity (for now)...

Today was our last day with Habitat for Humanity. Even though the hammering made our arms sore and the sun gave us all red noses and cheeks, we were sad to end our time with this group of Habitat volunteers on Ferry Place. 

Kris using a table saw.

Andrew is nailing in Tyvek covering.

Ryan hammering in sheeting.

To show appreciation to the Habitat volunteers, the NOLA Team gave a short performance for the other volunteers during the lunch break. After the performance, I was bombarded with compliments and praise for the team from the other volunteers. I realized what a door their performance opened up with the other volunteers and how much "art builds." It immediately added another layer of energy and positive energy to the site. One volunteer from Rochester, NY summer it up about the students, "They have a light within that shines so brightly."

The jazz musicians started of the performance.

The performance continued with the actors reciting a poem written by Jeremie Harris.

Chelsea performed an original dance.

Miran & Yvonne performed a duet.

The Juilliard team with the Habitat staff and additional volunteers in front of house we helped build which will become 1316 Ferry Place. By the time we ended our time with Habitat for Humanity, the team had framed out the entire first floor of a two story home. It was hard physical work but we had a great time and it was so exciting to build a home for a deserving family.  It was really great to connect with other volunteers from around the country and to work with the Habitat staff, Kayleigh, Nate, Adam and the others. I just loved doing this service work and can't wait to volunteer again. x/o, Sabrina

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day #5 - It's all about the new houses...

Today was the 2nd day with Habitat for Humanity. Between the 24 of us, we worked on 4 different houses on Ferry Place. Yesterday, the team built the entire first floor frame of one house. Today, we built the interior walls and started seeing the beginnings of a HOME. Nate, our Habitat team leader, described to us what we were building...a wall that separated the master bedroom from the living room, the doorways, the kitchen. While some of us were building walls, some team members were high up on ladders and roofs nailing in exterior sheeting to the frames of the houses. By day's end, we had almost completely sheeted an entire house. Here is one of our team leaders, Alli, working on the 2nd story of one of houses.

Alejandro and Mike doing some 2nd story sheeting.


Christina balances on the framing for a roof to get the job done.

Chelsea, Yvonne, Melissa and Ryan worked on the back of the house.

James, Kris, Pippa, LeBaron and I help Nate (Habitat for Humanity) install the wall for the master bedroom.

Jeff, Chelsea, Breeana, Jeremie and James finish one side of a house.

The team worked hard despite sunburns and sore arms from the work they did the day before. The day concluded with a successful day at the Dryades YMCA and a group dinner of good ole Cajun cuisine in the French Quarter. Off to bed.
x/o, Sabrina

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day #4

We started our day out at 7:45am, with our orientation at the New Orleans area Habitat for Humanity, then spent the next seven hours building three homes on Ferry Place in Orleans Parish!!

We then went straight to the Dryades YMCA for our second day of teaching....