Kids Report (Dance Video And Etc)

johnliu_gwJune 14, 2014

Not much cooking to report here, but lots of kid stuff going on!

At my son's arts magnet middle school, each kid prepares and performs a personal capstone project in his or her art form as part of completing 8th grade. The theatre kids write and perform short plays, the music kids perform and sometimes compose pieces, the dance kids choreograph and perform dances, the visual arts and writing kids do likewise in their arts.

He choreographed a short dance with a ghost dancer. To make the ghost, he videotaped himself dancing in black clothes and socks, with a black towel over his head, against a white background. I inverted the video and maxed the contrast, using iMovie. The ghost is projected on the wall behind him during the dance. They meet, interact, and walk off the stage and out of middle school together. The music starts with to 'Iron' by Woodkid and 'To Be Alone' by Ben Thomas.

He actually performed the dance twice, once at the capstone presentations and again at a different venue at the school's 8th grade promotion ceremony. At promotion, he was given the choice of delivering the class speech or performing his capstone, and he chose the performance. I was glad, because I had trouble videotaping the first performance - partly a mistake by the person running the projector (see if you can catch it) and me (I know nothing about using my ultra-cheap camcorder, and didn't realize how much of the stage he would cover). With a second chance, I was able to get enough video to stitch together the whole dance. I did have to convert to B&W and high contrast, to mask the discontinuities from the different stages and lighting.

This has been an incredible middle school experience for him and his classmates. Imagine three years doing the art form you love most for two hours each day with 450 other kids from every walk of life, brought together by a common interest in music, art, dance, and theatre. Despite budget pressures, they have good facilities, professional level lighting and sound equipment, and a great teaching staff. They still get core writing, math, science, etc, and four hours a day is plenty when that curriculum is taught efficiently and well. He's going on to a good public high school, where his sister just graduated with a very good education. I feel lucky: my kids' schools really are an example of the best in public schools.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fall Out performance

This post was edited by johnliu on Sat, Jun 14, 14 at 12:23

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Virtuoso showpiece of poetry in motion.

Happy Father's Day, everyday, to a proud father.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 4:53PM
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John, that was wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing it with us, you must be very proud of him.

My niece went to Da Vinci for 2 years several years ago, she'll be 23 next month ;) Where do the years go.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2014 at 11:33PM
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John, your son is very talented. Thank you for sharing.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 8:24AM
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Oh my gosh, that was fabulous! Congrats to you and your son. You are such a cool dad, no wonder he is doing so well. Great name he has, too. Thanks so much for posting this although it makes me feel like a dud as a parent. Nah, they turned out okay. Happy Father's Day!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 2:29PM
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I found a video on my iPhone of him at school, practicing part of the dance. I guess one of the other students took the video. Link below. It is interesting to see which pieces of the choreography stayed in and which were later eliminated. Same process with the ghost dancer. He video'd that a few times and then had me make a few different versions.

As I mentioned, the performances had technical problems. Durinh the first one, the person running the projector accidentally paused the ghost dancer, so his and the ghost's timing became unsynchronized. She also didn't shut the ghost video off at the end, so he left the stage to the Apple iDVD chapter/title screen instead of leaving with the ghost or a black background. On the second performance, they were using Benson High School's auditorium for the promotion ceremony. The DaVinci staff wasn't familiar with Benson's equipment, so when he was poised to start his performance, there was no music . . . still no music . . . then the wrong music . . . then he got a hand signal that he interpreted as the "hook" . . . so they had to start over. That sequence is actually rather funny, and I will post it next - just for a laugh, a "blooper" if you will.

Then, after we are caught up on DS, I will update you all on Daughter-San.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dance rehearsal

This post was edited by johnliu on Sun, Jun 15, 14 at 18:07

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 5:50PM
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So here is the "blooper". Link below.

Dear Son left last night with his science teacher, a dozen fellow students including his best friend at middle school, and a couple of parent chaperones, for two weeks in Costa Rica. He started asking to go on this trip a year ago, and we told him okay, if he got good grades. He finished 8th grade with all A's so he's off!

This summer he will be doing an online geometry class, to qualify to take advanced algebra as a high school freshman. One of his DaVinci dance teachers has an adult dance troupe, and he and another classmate were invited to train with them for some of the summer. He and I will do a weekend of road cycling and camping in July, we'll go to Lake Tahoe for a week in early August, and he'll get the spend the rest of August and most of September with his sister before she heads off to college.

He'll go to the same high school that his sister just graduated from, where he already knows some of the upperclassmen and has Daughter-san's inside intelligence on "the system". After performing in two big theater productions at DaVinci, he is eager to get involved in the drama productions in high school. The "drama crowd" there are creative, supporting kids from what I see, but also they like to, ahem, party, which worries me a little but - c'est la vie.

The high school has no dance program, so he will continue dance on an after-school basis. There are two professional dance companies in town who have "junior artist programs" for teenagers. Both are geographically convenient to his school-home commute and have asked him to join.

In addition to dance and theatre, DaVinci developed his interest in writing, which I'll urge him to pursue in high school as well. Finally, he wants to try out for a sport. We made a list of all the sports offered at the high school and talked them over. Lacrosse? Water polo? Sailing? Crew? One Sunday, he called my cellphone and asked if I'd like to meet him for lunch at Skyline Burger, which is about 8 miles from our home. I drove out there, wondering why he was on the other side of Portland, Turns out he had put a bottle of water and a book in a small daypack and gone running. So we've decided he'll try out for cross-country . . .

It exhausts me just to type out this list of activities, and I wonder if something will have to give, but young folks appear to have endless energy.

I just hope he doesn't drop the dance. I don't see it as a career, and he told me he feels the same, but I think it is a good thing for body and mind, poise and the confidence.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fall Out - First Try

    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 8:22PM
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John, that was amazing, he's a very athletic dancer.

My youngest daughter spent 2 weeks in Costa Rica her senior year in high school, it was an exciting experience for her and showed her a world much different than her small circle here in White Cloud. It was as much a learning experience as the Spanish class that eventually took her there. I think your son will enjoy himself greatly.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2014 at 11:40PM
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Very Alvin Ailey, with a touch of Martha Graham.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 9:12AM
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After looking up Alvin Ailey, I really appreciate your kind words, dcarch and everyone.

Now, on to Daughter-san. Her year has been consumed with the college application process and with finishing high school. Getting into college is not what it was when I was a kid; it is much harder and more stressful today. Kids seem much better prepared, admissions are more competitive, and college costs are an order of magnitude higher. It is easy for kids and their parents to get sucked into the vortex of expectations, ambition and status. We got pulled partway into that mess, but thanks mostly to Daughter-san's level head, we got through it.

She will be attending the Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. It is a smallish liberal arts honors college of 700 students, with their own building, faculty, advisors, and dorm, in the midst of a 30,000 student university. I think she'll have the best of both worlds - a small school with personal attention, and a big school with a diverse student body and endless things to do. She'll be about two hours from home, which seems to me like a nice distance, and will allow her to come home when she wants to, to have her little brother visit, but keep mom and dad mostly out of her hair. The university has a biology program, which is her science interest, and also a full fine arts program (BFA, MFA, design, etc) which is her non-science interest. There is talk of a double major. Finally, Eugene is one of the most livable towns in Oregon, where a bicycle is accepted and adequate transportation. Naturally, I look forward to fitting out her bike for college duty; any excuse to wrench on bicycles is welcome. Because we'll pay in-state tuition, and she's getting some scholarships by reason of being a National Merit Scholar finalist, the cost is manageable and we'll be able to send her to study abroad as much as she'd like. I've suggested that she brush up on her French!

Daughter-san had an interesting high school "career" which is how the kids refer to it. She started as a shy, introverted kid who was very much a study nerd. During high school she did a lot of drawing and photography, had a two-month solo exhibition, took most of her friends' senior portraits, and ended up being voted "best photographer" by her class. Her favorite model was her brother, who was even willing to dress in drag and bite .38SPL cartridges for her senior photography project, which was a photographic interpretation of Truman Capote's "Other Voices Other Rooms". (Unfortunately for him, that project is being kept by the photography teacher as an example for future classes.) She did some interesting things, like embroidering photographic prints.

She also got involved in Speech & Debate, went to tournaments, became one of the team's officers and placed second in State in her event. In senior year she started doing theatre and made a whole new set of friends among the "drama kids". During the summers she worked as a cook and later assistant supervisor in the Berkeley camp in Yosemite, which involved responsibility, a lot of hard work - cooking 8 hours in a commercial kitchen during 100 degree heat waves - and, I'm told, some vigorous partying on days off. So Daughter-san is leaving high school as a much more outgoing, confident, social person than she entered. Her high school GPA is perhaps not, err, quite as good as it could have been had she remained less social, but it is pretty good, enough to get her into a good range of colleges.

By the time she graduated from high school, she was Miss Popularity, with a whirlwind of parties and outings during the last month. She told me that, while fun, being so social was exhausting and she had started to turn down most invitations. Which was a relief to me, since I would like her to be a serious student in college in addition to having fun.

She's back at camp cooking for half of this summer - a different Berkeley camp, after the Yosemite camp was burned to the ground last summer. She'll fly back to Oregon for college orientation in the middle of the summer, then will have the last month of summer free to relax and play with her brother before heading off to college.

So there we are, all caught up. SWMBO and I are kid-free for a few weeks and even after DS gets back from his trip, life should be less hectic and I might even be able to do some cooking. Not that we've been starving, but the cooking here hasn't been interesting - just utility cooking. Hoping to change that this summer.

Here is a link that might be useful: an online portfolio

    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 4:49PM
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Oh my, your children are both so talented. I really like the charcoal entitled "Andrea", the one of her grandfather, the ink drawing of "Eddie on the Violin", the "10th grade" photo. They're all lovely.

Getting along with her peers is important too, and it seems that she's "come into her own" and is, maybe, ready to be more serious. Life has to have SOME fun in it....

Like cooking, for instance.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2014 at 11:34PM
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“------She did some interesting things, like embroidering photographic prints.---“

Artists do not intellectualize when they are creating, and often produce work with meanings which are not purposeful or conscious. The feelings educed from observers (eye of the beholder) is what art is all about.

In the eyes of this beholder, me, I was very touched by the photo. It uses a unique technique, to depict a brand new historic human phenomenon in this civilization's progression, i.e. the digitization of all forms of human activity.

Youths today are submerged in a milieu of having part of their colorful cerebral activities, visual and audio activities all transformed (stitched) into the binary 0s & 1s black and white WEB world.

The medium is the message?


    Bookmark   June 17, 2014 at 7:52AM
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So nice to "meet" you. SWMBO does not look like I imagined, far less threatening. Your daughter's work is charming. I especially like Condensation. Best of luck to her in college!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 5:38PM
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"SWMBO does not look like I imagined, far less threatening."

Iron fist, velvet glove . . .

    Bookmark   June 19, 2014 at 12:11AM
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Daughter-san might want to consider scientific illustration and/or science writing as careers. I have a few friends who do one or the other and when I taught at a small liberal arts college a few of my students over the years double-majored in art and science with that in mind. Doubles the job opportunities in two iffy fields!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 6:42AM
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