Friday, December 21, 2012

Art and Real Life Tragedy

[This post was inspired by a post on The Healthy Dancer: Using Dance to Heal.]

 In her post, linked above, Diana discusses how the recent school shooting affected her as an educator and parent. Although she is a current Connecticut resident, I am a former one, having lived there for most of my life.  My family is still there, scattered across the tiny state, some close to the Newtown area, some farther away.  But it's safe to say that all of them were affected, as the entire nation was.  You didn't have to be a resident of that state or the parent of a small child to feel tremendous empathy for the families of the smallest victims and their exceptionally heroic teachers.

This past weekend, Le Studio held its annual Nutcracker.  One of the highlights of the show is the tiny children who play the mice and reindeer.  They always steal the show - always! Some are as young as four and all just love dancing.  It's such a joy to watch them on stage, waving to their parents, trying very hard to follow along with the older dancers who are leading them. It was hard for Susie and me to watch them without thinking of the young students in Newtown who would never have an opportunity to dance in a Nutcracker. And it made us feel very protective of the ones who were on stage with us.

Dance, and ballet in particular, has always been a dramatic art form. Every major story ballet involves death or betrayal, even some that are ultimately light-hearted and upbeat.  Nutcracker, for instance, involves the death of the Mouse King (and in our version, also one of the tiny mice). Clara and her Prince prevail and go on to dance in the Land of the Sweets and live happily ever after but hey, what about those mice who died? It's not our place as dance teachers to play psychologist with the children but I'd like to think that the arts, whether it's a story ballet or a movie or a picture book, can help the young ones understand about death and life.  Parents can use art as the first step to introduce a small child to the notion of death. 

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