When Darke County Center for the Arts officials chose “Connections” as the theme for their 2016-17 season of presentations, they couldn’t have known how brilliantly apt their choice would be to describe the now completed Arts In Education series that presented high-quality artists performing for students in each grade level in all local public schools. Diverse and real connections ensued throughout the school year.
From Oct. 10-14, fourth- through sixth-grade students learned the value of “Pulling Together” as Tasha Stielstra and her sled dog Rhu (short for Rhubarb) demonstrated how teamwork is necessary to achieve personal success. Core values that contribute to winning sled dog races also apply to meeting goals one sets throughout life. “Be Safe, Be Kind, and Be Responsible” and “Don’t ever let go” are important tenets to observe during a sled dog race where driver and dogs are physically linked, but are also essential to earning deserved rewards as one pursues lofty dreams. Tasha and her companion deftly revealed the tie between hard work, intrepid perseverance, and achievement of life goals as they readily connected with youngsters throughout their friendly, accessible presentation.
When AudioBody took up residence at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall Dec. 14 and 15, their electrical and technological connections truly lit up the stage and captured the attention of their audience of junior high students. Brothers Matthew and Jason Tardy are AudioBody, an act like no other whose performances are pretty much indescribable. They perform physical comedy and world-class juggling, and have invented and built the battery of equipment used in their show as well as written all the music that drives the very active on-stage action. Their performance inspired appreciation for not only art and music, but also technology and science as Matthew and Jason explained their delightful inventions and urged the students to risk failure and learn from mistakes, forging ahead to achieve goals and reach aspirations.
DCCA’s AIE presentations connect youngsters to other cultures as well as to the arts, enriching lives and creating bonds. When We Banjo 3 performed for high school students from Jan. 30 – Feb. 2, their fresh and tuneful music based in Irish tradition connected the old to the new, transcending time and geography. Galway, Ireland-based Enda and Fergal Scahill and Martin and David Howley, the two sets of brothers who comprise We Banjo 3, spoke of their passion for music, and urged their audiences to pursue their love of the arts, as “it is a gift that will last forever.” Everyone exposed to this glorious group experienced cultural enrichment, but if you ask audience members about the experience, they undoubtedly will reply that the show was a whole lot of fun.
DCCA’s final Arts In Education presentation for this school year affirmed the power of music to not only entertain, but also to communicate and to inspire. From April 6-10, Jason Farnham performed for kindergarten through third-grade students, assuring the boys and girls that the piano is the king of instruments, and proving his point again and again. Jason captured attention and hearts, gleefully playing his tiny toy Schoenhut as well as a full size piano, imitating Jerry Lee Lewis, performing upside down, and introducing songs that had students tapping their toes or singing along. The youngsters were also connected to musical facts and concepts while having a rollicking good time.
Many of the connections made through DCCA’s 2016-17 Arts In Education program will last for a very long time, expanding imaginations, inspiring creativity, linking dreams to actions and bridging barriers to enhance lives. When things get connected, great stuff can happen!