Diavolo master class at Jefferson High impacts students and teachers
STUDENT PROFILE: SHANNON DAVIS, Lafayette Jefferson High Sophomore
Explain the importance of the arts in your school career.
I think bringing arts into schools and giving students the opportunity to choose and let their creativity roam is something that every student should have. It opens the doorway in really finding what you want as a career and is another way to express yourself as an individual.
Do you think all students should have access to arts classes? Why or why not?
I think all students should have access to art classes, whether they find what they enjoy as a hobby or whether it’s not for them. It gives everyone a chance, and everybody deserves something like that.
Tell me about a specific moment either in the dance studio or in other arts classes that has mattered to you.
Dance is one of my favorite arts. It’s not just moves to a music, it’s about telling a story and portraying that story a way the audience can really feel what the dancers are expressing. Dance is a feeling, and that moment you are on that stage pouring your souls and everything else you got onto that floor, nothing else matters.
The Diavolo dancers emphasized the concepts of trust, responsibility, and liability. Had you ever considered these concepts as part of live performance?
Of course. Being on a high school dance team requires so much trust and responsibility. You depend on every single person on your team, every practice, every game, every competition; you can’t miss something like that without letting the rest of the team down. When you’re moving formations and doing tricks and turns you have to trust your team to know where they’re going, rely on them to keep you safe, and you have to be responsible in order to hold those ends up. If you go on stage and you miss something because you didn’t hold up one of your ends, it could potentially lead to injuries on stage, or even bad performances.
Tell me what you thought about the master class with Diavolo.
The master class with Diavolo only made me want to further my career as a dancer and choreographer. They taught a lot of important techniques and really made you open up entirely to express a part of you that you might not have known about. For them to really bring an entire experience like that and let me absorb as much as I could possibly get within an hour, was something I wish to continue to experience in the future and I hope others will as well.
What are your career plans past high school? What year will you graduate high school?
My career after high school is to become a professional dancer and choreographer and I will graduate in 2019.
TEACHER PROFILE: CRISTIN COONS, Lafayette Jefferson High School Dance Teacher
How did your students respond to the maste rclass with Diavolo?
The dance students participating in the Diavolo master class were our upper-level dancers, so they are used to exploring movement and technique. I could tell they were intrigued by the new methodology and movement phrases Diavolo utilized in the class, and they were eager to try them. I was proud that many of the students were fully committed to the class and were trying new things they normally don’t have the opportunity to try. The structure of the class allowed them to move freely and be their own dancers and creators, which I loved because it encouraged self-reliance in the creative process.
What value do you see in exposing students to professionals in the arts?
Jefferson High School dance students typically lack other opportunities in their lives for dance. Bringing in professional dancers, such as Diavolo, broadens their horizons and allows them to experience different dance styles and teaching methods. Allowing them to interact with working dance professionals gives them an inside view of a professional career in the arts. My hope is that it inspires them to think about different avenues of dance in their life after high school. Even if they don’t pursue a career in dance, it opens their eyes to different performance opportunities in our community that they can continue to appreciate as they go forward in their adult lives. To me, dance is so important for all people to experience and interact with as an outlet of inspiration, and welcoming these artists to our classroom allows students to explore different styles and methods while learning life lessons as well.