Saturday, March 5, 2016

Day 6 - NOCCA

Today was a day of breakthroughs. 

After waking up so early the previous two days, the team was able to catch up on some much needed sleep. Since we had more time, we made a hearty breakfast complete with eggs, bacon, and in true southern style: grits. Afterwards, the team convened in the main living room at YRNO to rehearse our production of “The Jungle Book”, in preparation for our performances at Lusher Elementary School. Victoria led the way, complete with cue cards that mapped out the show. We had a limited amount of time but we were able to get through a rough sketch of our show. One quick team meeting later, and we were off to NOCCA! 

We arrived at NOCCA (New Orleans Center for Creative Arts) at 11:30 a.m. Brian Hammell, NOCCA’s Director of Communications & Campus Activities, welcomed us with open arms and his personal southern twang. He must have said “y’all” every other sentence as he toured us around the astounding campus at NOCCA. We then split up into our individual teaching teams with the students for the next two hours. In the dance room, we led the students through a series of improvisational exercises. After the class, one student mentioned how improvisation had always terrified her, but today she felt liberated to dance without fear of judgement. To end our time at NOCCA, we put on a small performance for the students. Jeffery triumphantly performed for his old classmates. Victoria brought the heat with her own rendition of “Steam Heat”. Malik stunned us all with a self-choreographed solo. The students at NOCCA showed such earnest enthusiasm for art, something that was refreshing to see. 

Later, we had our annual dinner with a group of friends and supporters of the NOLA team. In exchange for our meal, the team performed for the families, a small price to pay for the delicious food (which included gumbo, my personal favorite). Victoria performed a monologue which prompted Wiley, a four year old boy, to ask: “Is she just talking or is she telling a story?” We were able to witness Isaiah on the piano in all his glory. Even Mother Nature was on our side. Angela and Keshav performed a collaborative piece on the patio outside. It was raining, and we all huddled underneath an overhang. When the piece was finished, the rain thundered down upon the overhang, as if to applaud their beautiful work. At the end of the night I heard someone lean over and mutter, “These kids are so talented”. Of course I agree with this statement, but it is more than the talent of my fellow teammates that takes my breath away. The willingness to let go of any form of ego, to share their art, and bare their souls was humbling to watch. At the end of our night, I was more in awe of my teammates than ever before. Nights like these are what makes our trip in New Orleans so special. I was more inspired from this showcase of incredible artistry after a home cooked meal in a cozy home, than I ever am from any professional show back in New York. I talked about this with Natsuko during our car ride home. She told me that she had never performed in a better mindset in her entire life than she had tonight. It is nearing the end of the week, and we are all exhausted from a lack of sleep and our massive output of energy, yet I think that we can all agree, we are all in our best mindset. I hope with everything in me that I will not lose this state of mind. 

Riley O’Flynn
BFA Dance ’17
3rd year NOLA team member

No comments:

Post a Comment