Arkansas Learning Through the Arts recently hosted its “Poetry In Motion” event at the Hot Springs Country Club with Arkansas First Lady Susan Hutchinson as a guest speaker.
ALTTA, a non-profit organization, provides learning opportunities that are not generally available to schools by offering workshops that “consist of three to four one-hour sessions with artist teachers,” said Craig Welle, executive director of ALTTA.
When the arts are integrated into all aspects of learning, it “increases the power of the brain,” said Hutchinson, recounting his story of learning to play the piano at a young age, claiming that instruments connect the body and the brain, “the left hand, the right hand the hand … moving the feet … the left hand, the right hand, it builds the brain. Singing, walking, banging on a drum, banging on spoons .. . It doesn’t matter. It builds the brain, “she said.
Hutchinson recounted his personal journey growing up with a love for the arts, music in particular, and how that appreciation turned into a plea for the arts in education.
“Music has always been a part of my father’s family historically,” Hutchinson recalls, “I grew up with his beloved aunt. She was a prolific pianist, she could play whatever she wanted. . It was pretty impressive. And I really liked this. “
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Hutchinson recalled the first piano in her house, “Not all pedals were working. Lots of keys stuck,” she said. Although her family is from the lower middle class, she said her mother took her and her siblings to piano lessons.
Because of these memories, Hutchinson says she learned how “music is precious”.
The event also featured poet and author Kai Coggin, recipient of the Arkansas Governor’s Award for Arts Education, and featured the world-class Hot Springs High School Dance Troupe, led by dance teacher Amy Bramlett Turner.
Coggin performed an original poem, titled “Wings,” which she uses to encourage students when she visits classrooms.
“I know sometimes you’re faced with a lot of tough choices,” Coggin said in the poem, “and it might seem like there are too many voices of parents and teachers yelling at you, telling you what to do. , but always remember, you also have wings, always remember that you also have wings.
Turner performed an improvised dance to an excerpt from “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou, read by Coggin.
“Amy doesn’t teach, she leads by example,” Coggin said. “She leads her students to learn, but also to learn to teach. Her students not only learn choreography and poetry, but they turn around and teach their peers, which takes it to another level and that’s why she is. such an amazing teacher. “
Coggin was introduced to Turner’s dance class by ALTTA to collaborate with Turner’s 7-12 Dance Troupe to give students the opportunity to create their own original poem and choreograph an original dance piece based on the poetry.
“The students had the opportunity to choreograph their own dances academically,” said Turner. “I know that most of my dancers are not going to become professional dancers. That is not the goal. Our goal is to create active citizens of our community who know how to be a citizen and know how to be a member that they should. share and participate. “
Students performed their original dance ensemble to poetry, titled “Can You Hear Me,” written and choreographed by Moriah Thacker and performed by dancers Jariah Selman and Serenity Cupples.
“Children are inherently drawn to the arts and connected to reading, writing and speaking as a natural fit,” Welle said. “The past two years have been tough for all of us, especially the kids. In short, the arts are social, the arts are emotional. Using the artist to foster socio-emotional health is something our artists all do. innately for years and now do so with greater intentionality. “
Steve Lux, Vice President of ALTTA, presented Martha Smithers, Chair of the Board of Trustees, with a copy of a certification from the National Board of Young Audiences for Learning, which makes ALTTA one of 28 Affiliates of this national arts-in network. – education agencies.
“We are proud of your accomplishments and look forward to working with you in the future to ensure the continued success of Arkansas Learning Through the Arts,” said David Dik, National Executive Director of Young Audience Arts for Learning, in a statement. letter of certification.