Rehearsing “Madeleine”: A Personal Story of Hope

A few weeks ago, a Lawrence Arts Center School of Dance staff member popped into my office to say hello. A few minutes into it, I realized her real reason for stopping in: they needed someone to be a walk-on in the fall production of Madeleine put on by our pre-professional company, Lawrence Ballet Theatre. That first rehearsal? Let’s just say this: I felt like I was losing a real-life game of Frogger. With ballerinas instead of cars. Unprepared, I stumbled, quite literally, upon what comes from commitment and practice. These young dancers spend 5-6 days a week in class, in concentrated training for years, to make an extremely difficult art form look not just beautiful, but completely natural. They make dance look effortless, like anyone could do it. At this point, I couldn’t match their training, but I certainly could find it within myself to try to match their commitment. With this humbling realization, I promised to stick with it. The next evening, I sheepishly slipped into our next rehearsal full of apologies: to the ballerina I almost hamstrung, to the junior stage techs that had to reset the stage twice for me, and the duet whose sequence I stumbled into the middle of. Expecting to be met with frustration and annoyance, I found exactly the opposite.

A Conversation with Kansas Pioneer Laura Ramberg

Laura Ramberg is a ceramicist, sculptor, and dancer who has been working as an artist in the Lawrence, Kansas community for the past 40 years. A true innovator and creative pioneer, she has taught art classes three times a week at the Douglas County Juvenile Detention Center in Lawrence for two decades. Working with literally hundreds of students over 20 years, she has witnessed fluctuations in policy, changes in facilities, and the digital revolution in youth culture. She has experienced firsthand how art can help people in crisis in the moment, but also how it can change their lives. Arts Education Council member Margaret Weisbrod Morris sat down with Laura to hear about her experiences working with incarcerated youth.

The Positive Power of Art

Everyone should have access to making their life better and living a healthy life. This is where we can all make a difference: advocating to make the benefits of creative activity, arts education, and arts experiences more openly accessible to more people. You might be surprised to know that the arts and health have over 100 years of partnership. Visual art, music, dance, creative writing, dramatic play, and theater have been used for decades to enhance individual experience in hospitals, mental health treatment centers, senior care facilities, emergency rooms, occupational therapy clinics, in pediatric care, and more. Wherever people are in crisis—health or otherwise—creative activities are found. 

Catching STEAM

If you haven’t heard about the movement to place art within STEM curriculum, or STEAM, you’ve been missing one of the steamiest topics to hit the arts in decades. Essentially a catchy acronym for arts integration targeted at math and science, STEAM has ignited the imaginations of scientists, artists, and educators nationwide. Those on the outside of art and education may wonder: what does a STEAM program look like? Why do it? This blog offers a quick look into one such program steaming forward in the center of the Midwest.

Notes from the Field

I am in the field. Literally. A wheat field in McPherson County, Kansas to be exact. There’s no cell service and no other human being in sight, so I feel seriously out of place. I am far outside of my comfort zone. Other than the hundred head of cattle expectantly staring at me over a wire fence behind me, my only companion is Stretch, the Chinberg’s farm dog. Used to the solitude, he keeps eagerly bringing me junk – a stick, discarded flip-flop with teeth marks, a chewed rabbit foot – canine enticements to friendship. There is a hot, skin-stripping wind blowing chaff onto my cheeks, getting stuck in my hair that falls into the palette I have set out. The starkness of this scene inspired my courage to capture the power of this hot, solitary land. I am here because of, and in spite of, the wind. It drives my thoughts.

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