Photos by Miriam Alarcón Avila
One thousand ICCSD district 8th graders attended a local live arts performance as part of the Any Given Child program. Students from the three junior high schools were transported to the new Hancher Auditorium for an amazing performance by Step Afrika! Dancers from Step Afrika! demonstrated the tradition and culture significance of stepping, stemming from African American fraternities and sororities. The audience was delighted by the energizing, powerful performance, and eagerly participated in the program.
Step Afrika! presented Reflections of Jacob Lawrence: The Migration. The production projected Lawrence’s canvases depicting the Great Migration onto the background while dancers added life to the paintings. Eighth graders across the district discussed the migration during American Studies classes, and each school was given a Jacob Lawrence print to use in their discussion. This introduction allowed students to be familiar with the historical context and art work presented.
As a pilot program supported by the ICCSD Foundation, the collective experience of seeing a world class performance in the University of Iowa’s largest classroom on campus was simply thrilling. Support for this memory of a lifetime was also made by the Community Foundation of Johnson Country, Big Yellow School Bus Grant, Future Voters, and the Iowa City Noon Hour Kiwanis Club.
Quotes from students:
“I really liked how the dancers performed in front of the artwork we looked at in class. When we looked at the painting of the skyscrapers in class, it pretty much just looked like any other building but when they danced in front of it, it really brought the painting to life and it made more sense.”
“I’m not a big fan of art and didn’t really find his artwork that interesting. But after seeing the performance, I want to go back and look more into his paintings.”
“It was cool to see how their life was so different in the North and South.”
“The performers were really funny and very energetic. My favorite part was the dance off. I also liked how they taught us to step!”
“The dancers were very talented and had to be in great shape. They did a great job of getting the students engaged in the dances. I felt like we were part of the show.”
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