Truly Powerful People (427)

Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

“Art happens – no hovel is safe from it, no prince may depend upon it, the vastest intelligence cannot bring it about.” James McNeill Whistler
Years ago I attended a summer session of The California Arts Project (TCAP). The foundation thought beneath TCAP was that teacher’s could not teach the arts unless they recognized themselves as artists. The amazing educators driving TCAP understood that all people are artists and very few people recognize it. They existed to help teachers recognize (reclaim) their artist identity, activate it, and build community with all of the other newly re-found artists. The work was extraordinary, the revelations transcendent.

Ed was an angry young man. He looked like he’d rather punch you than talk with you. I loved him! He was a wonderful teacher because he’d been a misunderstood student. He had little tolerance for adults who abused their power over children. He was a champion for children; Ed was destined to be shamed, blunted, betrayed, and forced out of education. His administrator sent him to TCAP with the last-ditch hope that the arts would take the edge off of Ed (oh, silly administrator!).

When he came to TCAP he chose dance as his primary art form because he knew nothing about dance. Ed’s choices were usually rooted in resistance and rebellion and that extended to his personal choices. I imagine his inner monologue went something like this: “So you think you can be an artist! Well why don’t you just try dance, Mr. No-Rhythm-Multiple-Clubfoot!” Over the next two weeks at TCAP Ed went through the stages of death; denial and anger led to acceptance and then burst through to another stage: desire. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that desire burst through Ed. He decided to do a solo performance as his final demonstration. He disappeared for hours at a time to rehearse. He began to smile, his brow un-knit, his usual heavy aura sparkled; Ed had a secret and it tickled him.

Ed danced a lifetime of pain away before our eyes. To Seal’s Kiss From A Rose, he moved through darkness to liberation to celebration to elation. He bloomed. 200 teachers, shocked into silence, bore witness to the enormity of the human spirit and the power of the arts. Ed unwittingly called forth the muses and art happened. Pandora’s box was open and the art was out! Ed’s anger was transformed. He returned to his school with more than an edge: he now knew how to wield his power. There is nothing more potent than a teacher who has released their artist from the box.

One Response

  1. I love this post! Thank you.

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