Students in the fourth grade at PS/MS 279 are learning about Tableaux. Students created a tableau based on a picture of the Cotton Club, a night club in Harlem with a white-only admissions policy, that featured famous African-American entertainers. When teaching artists Scott Lilly and Mary Cinadr tapped a student on the shoulder they came to life and spoke to the audience as if they were the character they were depicting in the tableau.
Some of their guiding questions were: How can we harness our breath in a way that makes us brave? How can I respond, rather than react, as an artist, to what has come before and what is to come? How do I use the body and the breath to become aware of how things affect me (intellectually, spiritually & physically)?
In this lesson, the students tapped into their courage via pre-tableau breathwork and embodied the emotional truth of the people in the photograph via gesture and facial expression. Scott and Mary are proud of the way the students took chances to translate this moment in history, on a stage, and in front of their peers.