We do lots of cool stuff. Often with UCLA students and campus groups. Regularly with artists who change our lives as they pass through.
And through our K-12 Design for Sharing (DFS) program (which began in 1969) every year we have incredibly rewarding moments with younger students from all over this city. DFS events and initiatives ensure that experiencing art, making art and learning about art is a part of the lives of school kids from all over Los Angeles.
In the current economic climate, the existence of art in our public schools is not a given. It takes organizations like us to do what we can to fill in the gaping holes of arts education. (By the way, if this is something near and dear to your heart and you’d like to get involved or donate, we would love to hear from you.)
We’re proud to say more than 14,500 public school students from across Los Angeles participated in DFS programs and activities this year.
CAP UCLA’s DFS presented 11 Demonstration Performances, bringing public school students to UCLA to experience a diverse slate of art forms and artists in a live-performance setting.
Some inspirational highlights include Bajofondo’s modern mix of electronic beats and acoustic tango from Argentina, which had our High School audience dancing in the aisles. Post-show, backstage, these amazingly generous and energetic performers were definitely feeling the love and effusive in their appreciation of the engaged student audience. It was one of those truly uplifting moments that just made everyone in the band and everyone who works here smile for the rest of the day.
Israel’s Yemen Blues took us from Bedouin rhythms to New Orleans brass with their unique blend of American, African and Arabic sounds and made a powerful connection with an audience of kids who may never have heard such a fusion of sounds before. The group uses music to perpetuate the powerful idea that “it doesn’t matter where you come from, your language is my language.”
At one point, lead singer Ravid Kahalani brought out a lap-top and Skyped in his young daughter to be part of a performance for her peers. He panned the screen toward the audience who greeted her with applause and cheers.
The cheeky Australian Circus Oz was a spectacle of unrelenting energy, humor, grace and strength. These performers, by virtue of their circus antics are naturally inclined to bring out childlike glee from audiences young and old, but their pre-show interactions with the students in the hall were pure joy to witness. Nothing reverberates in Royce Hall like the sound of a thousand children laughing together.
And this group dedicated their performances to the concepts of compassion, community and celebrating diversity, something that completely resonated with the student audience.
Back To Back Theater shared provocative, moving theater featuring actors with intellectual disabilities. The high-schoolers who attended this performance were incredibly gracious and fearlessly inquisitive during a post-performance Q&A with the artists.
California-based AXIS Dance challenged our expectations of contemporary dance with their beautiful collaboration between dancers with and without disabilities.
DFS also annually presents small-group workshops for the youngest elementary school students through the “My Special World” program. From Project Trio’s urban update of Peter and the Wolf to Dr. Craig Woodson’s global instrument-making program A World Orchestra You Can Build, nearly 1,000 students in second through fourth grades experienced the arts in an intimate, interactive setting.
This year, we expanded that format to create intimate workshop opportunities for older students as well. At three of these new Performance Workshops, 240 Middle and High School students saw how professional artists create and rehearse new works, and had the opportunity to ask questions, learn new movements, and share some of their own work with dancers from CONTRA-TIEMPO and Akram Khan Company.
We were also proud to partner with composer and music educator John Zeretzke to bring his Flutes Across the World project to three 6th grade classrooms. In a three-part series of activities at UCLA and in their classrooms, students learned about flutes used in various cultures worldwide and throughout history. Each student made a pair of twin flutes—one to keep and play, and one to send overseas with a Flutes Across the World Ambassador on humanitarian music missions for children in need in Africa, Haiti or Central America.
Design for Sharing also continued our successful Residency Program at UCLA Community School. A collaboration between UCLA and Los Angeles Unified School District, the UCLA Community School is an urban education partnership that brings the university’s world-class resources to one of central Los Angeles’ most underserved neighborhoods. The goal of the DFS Community School Arts Residency Program is to give students an opportunity to go beyond the one-time experience of observing an arts event and become active participants in the creative process. Residencies are structured over a 22-week period and are taught by professional teaching artists who work in collaboration with classroom teachers. Teaching artists from Design for Sharing and CONTRA-TIEMPO worked with 200 fourth, fifth and sixth grade students.
Through a series of dance, movement, theater, visual arts and creative writing activities, students explored the theme “We Stand Up.”
Students, teachers and teaching artists learned to respect and value each others’ unique creative voices. Participants wrote honestly and beautifully about what they believe in, what they stand for, and what they want, need and strive for. This was the program’s fourth year, and we’ve been thrilled to watch this group of kids blossom into creative, thoughtful and empowered young scholars and creators. The final presentation of their dance and spoken word performance pieces warmed our hearts and brought a few tears to our eyes.
Students took their writings and distilled the ideas into a few simple words and phrases that became these amazing and inspirational mobiles.
Design for Sharing’s demonstration performances, workshops, residency program and bus transportation is only made possible through the generous contributions of individuals, foundations and corporations. CAP UCLA is supremely grateful to our stalwart supporters who have helped to make the 2012-2013 season happen.
Part of making all this happen is making sure the students can get to the UCLA campus, a feat that’s harder than you might imagine! Thanks to continued contributions to DFS’ Perloff Memorial Bus Fund we were able to subsidize 132 buses for Demonstration Performances and 16 buses for My Special World/performance workshops, which helped more than 9,600 public school students get to campus.
We’re incredibly grateful to the artists and donors who continue to support this program. We know firsthand it has an impact. This past season we were also thrilled to have an intern in our office who, during his elementary school years, attended DFS performances here at UCLA. Now he’s a student in the World Arts and Cultures department!
Complete List of 2012-2013 Design for Sharing Events:
Demonstration Performances at Royce Hall
Axis Dance Company
Lula Washington Dance Theatre
Back to Back Theatre
David Wax Museum
California Guitar Trio
My Special World/Performance Workshops
Akram Khan Company
CONTRA-TIEMPO (2 workshops)
Dr. Craig Woodson (3 workshops)
Sherry Luchette & The Jazz Cats (2 workshops)
Project Trio (2 workshops)
John Zeretzke: Music of Appalachia
Flutes Across the World (3 workshops)