Art Rules Aruba / by J. Ivy

Art Rules Aruba Kickoff PartyAfter the kickoff party on Friday, which was OFF THE HOOK, in was time for class on Monday... Welcome to the Cipher...

It started off great!!!! The kids were all very excited and open to express their feelings, their experiences, and their talents. We introduced ourselves, letting them know where our own personal paths and gifts have taken us thus far. After hearing our stories, they quickly fought thru their shyness and excitedly shared their own. At that moment we could see how passionate and ambitious they are. We were so touched by their stories and dreams. Although we expected more students, we ended up with a total of 4 kids from the ages of 13 to 17 and we could immediately sense that they were young people with much older souls. After the introductions, we spoke on basic writing techniques, performing, and the importance of being in touch with your inner self. From there, we gave them a quick assignment, which was merely to write down what they wanted to achieve short & long term and what they felt their own strengths and weaknesses are. This gave us a clear image of what they want to learn and what key techniques we need to teach them. We feel a STRONG obligation to not only teach them about the craft, but to also help them personally...so that's when we started clearing the clutter. J spoke about the only two emotions that really exist, 'LOVE' and 'fear' and how important it is to be confident in one's self and how critical it is to be in love with yourself. Not the kind of love that makes one vain, but the kind of love that makes an individual unstoppable. We may have gotten a little deep but it was so inspirational!! Before we knew it, the class had come to an end, the students were heading home with a smile on their face, and we went home satisfied and looking forward to day two.

Day two:

My, my, my word travels fast...in just one day our class has gone from 4 to 6 students. Excited about what was to come from the days lessons we hopped right in and asked the students to recite poems they had either written or to bring in a favorite poem or song that another author had written. To our surprise, everyone brought in original pieces and the two new students were already prepared (always stay ready!!). From there we transformed our room from a cipher (a circle of chairs) to a stage-styled atmosphere lining up our chairs in a straight line. This enabled us to break down the fear factor. (Each student has a very unique and special story, so it's important that they realize that early on.) One by one, each of them stood in front of us and unleashed some of the most amazing writings we've ever heard. As professionals, we were blown away by their talents, but equally amazed that they had know idea how good they really are. They needed help in stage presence, knowing how to use the different tones of their voice, and making eye contact, but these young people were born to write. Some read poems, one student sang, one student delivered an amazing piece she had one past competitions with and even translated her Papiamento poem to English so J. Ivy could understand. Pure amazement!! After reading their poems, one of the students shared one of his raps over a beat, which had the class in an uproar! Now everyone wanted to rap their poems! And they did!! One by one, they jumped back on "stage" and spit their raps...It was truly a fun session!!

Wanting them to have a sense of some of the transitions rap & poetry has gone thru, we had a video session, which included clips of Langston Hughes, The GodFathers of Rap a.k.a. The Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron, and Jessica Care Moore. These Poet's eras span from the Harlem Renassaince to America's days of Revolution in the 60's to current day Poets and friends, which opened their minds some more as we expressed the importance of them being the storytellers of their day. They are the reporters of these times. They are the future and the future is now.

After two wonderful and very productive days, the students were truly, truly excited about the class and the final show to come in next week. They are gifted and they are ready...LISTEN!! We Are...

Peace...

J. Ivy (Chi-town!!!) & Zanillya (Rap Instructor from Amsterdam)

PS. Shout out to Angelle Stamper, Estefanie, Eleen, Kimbery, Chando, and Jonathan. You are truly an inspiration!!!