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Maine Alliance for Arts Ed News

December 13, 2014

Building Community Through the Arts

In November the Maine Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) brought five English classes from Bangor and Brewer high schools together for the performance of original works each class had created as part of Building Community Through the Arts (BCTA).  BCTA, the MAAE drama and dance artist residency program now in its fifteenth year, engages whole classes in the collaborative creation of an original play or dance piece, culminating in a regional public performance.

FullSizeRenderThe three Brewer High School groups, all creative writing classes of teacher Michelle MacDonald, worked with drama teaching artist Jeri Pitcher to create and perform works that were based on their self-identified social issues. These were compelling and in some cases darkly humorous plays of social criticism directed at such issues as persistent negative attitudes, social labels and intolerance of difference. Even online social networking came under criticism, for paradoxically encouraging a focus on self rather than on caring about others.

The two Bangor High School classes of teacher Angela Domina, both college preparatory classes in Junior English, worked with dance teaching artist Katenia Keller to create dances that expressed universal  themes, such as nature versus societal order, and loyalty versus betrayal that the students  had explored in their readings of medieval British literature.

FullSizeRender 4Initiated in response to the tragedy at Columbine High School, the collaborative process in the MAAE program helps to break down social barriers among students even as its classroom setting directly connects that process with academic learning. As one Bangor student remarked,  “just as we all have to work together to form a dance group, all the parts need to work together to form a story.”

For more on the November student performances and photos visit MAAE’s website, www.maineartsed.org.

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