Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Chance

Tonight, as I relayed stories of the program to my dearest teacher, mentor and friend I found myself saying a simple phrase.

"For me, it's about giving them a chance"

That's it. To provide opportunities, different paths and choices to those who otherwise may have never experienced such things. It can be the most minute change or revelation that occurs, but just a chance to experience it is all that matters.

I found myself realizing the hardships of the Detroit community and contemplating ways to create change - to offset the balance and allow new growth to occur.

So here it is: I have found citizens and artists in the Detroit area who are open and dedicated to helping, and making a difference. We will continue bringing arts programming to the youth of Detroit. We will give them a chance

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It sinks in: some Reflections

I sit, listening to Slavic Soul Party and reading Marianne Williamson, and for the first time the quote hits, sinks in and I feel that I have truly been liberated from my own fears.

I now realize that by doing so and acting/being comfortable with myself, I gave the youth at HCCS permission to do the same.

They taught me life lessons in understanding and patience. I am full of and bursting with love.

The safety, support and openness I felt with the team allowed full expression of emotions and thoughts. Something I feel and hope we taught and encouraged in the youth and our audiences.

What a remarkable week of performances,
of growth,
of love,
patience, excitement, laughter, shouts, dancing, a few tears and warm hugs,
overwhelming encouragement.

I have a new lease on art, life and existence.

I have no doubt in my mind that we are powerful creatures of change and have set wheels in motion.

Life is blessed.

Our Final Day

With a final day of sharing, our time with the students came to an end.

I was flooded with emotions as each person expressed a wish to stay in contact and sealed it with a hug. There were last minute questions, jokes and smiles but the hardest part was everyone's bit of sadness at the fact that the end of a week full of fun, experience and growth was coming to a close.
At 3:00 the male youth we had been working with joined us outside to watch and wave as our car pulled out.

At least it is not goodbye, but a break in time before we are back with new ideas, perspectives and inspiration!

And with parting words from a student who let us know that "we're cool", I know we'll be back!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit

The CAID, as it is often referred to is a small, unassuming building that welcomingly housed our Thursday performance.

When one steps inside, the space (that from the outside could go unnoticed) opens up to reveal its intricate art pieces and performance space. The backyard area is populated with graffiti art that gives messages of hope and change to an area that truly needs it!

This is the atmosphere we performed in! It was wonderful. The audience was full of citizens that wanted to support the arts and with those that were simply were curious.

Afterwards we spent time mingling with everyone in the building and enjoying the people of Detroit!
They really are magnificent people and characters!
Thursday with the ladies included a short collaborative performance of spoken word and dance by Carolyn and Bree to "I rise" by Mya Angelou, followed by exploration of words, sounds and movements that share the same ideas.

We worked on poetry, vocal coaching and dance as we prepared for Friday's sharing.

Their work is touching, encouraging and eye-opening.

The boys spent the afternoon, warming up with games then listening to music played by Alli and making associations (either visual or verbal). In groups, we wrote, played some improv acting games and discussed art.

The words of wisdom that are spoken by the students puts me in awe and pushes me to continue creating and trying to make a difference!

Did I mention that both groups learned and enjoyed Forsythe Improv?! :)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


A day of opening up.

When I look back, the stories from Wednesday came from the youth. I learned on Wednesday, I learned patience and listening, I learned of difficult pasts and lives and more importantly the self-reflection and knowledge that accompany them.

As I left, my emotions were mixed/complex/draining... but deep, caring love and happiness grew from it. This is a great place to be!

That night, dinner in Greek-town and the fireworks were a celebration of the bursting, open hearts we had experienced and grown!


Monday, June 29, 2009

The Heidelberg Project Performance!

On Tuesday, after our second successful day of teaching, we headed straight to the Heidelberg Project.

Following a tour of the neighborhood, which is itself a piece of art, we prepared ourselves for our first performance!
It was sensational!

Performing in such a welcoming and open community was wonderful, not to mention the ability to create and share art in the midst of more art!

The creator of the Heidelberg Project (Tyree Guyton) was present as well as Jessica Williams (the head of the Young Association of Heidelberg), and a large diverse audience.

One resonating idea, that has stuck with me is Tyree's message
and goal: Unity, and the idea that all of humanity is connected..... We are doing what we can to help, and bring opportunity to all.

P.s. don't worry, we'll get a dot on Juilliard! : )

Teaching Day 1

As our work began at 10a.m. with a group of teenage females, we were encouraged. After introducing ourselves, getting to know each other and engaging the group with games such as "shabooyah", "ba" and "zip-zap-zop", we shared our favorite places in Detroit and their positive characteristics.

At the end of two hours, the smaller groups had created and shared: a short scene that led into a dance created by the students and multiple poems created through various techniques that explored emotions, positive thinking and favorite places!

And that was just the females.....

I must admit, after our lunch break, we were hopeful but still bracing ourselves for a bit of a tougher time with the male youth.

I am happy to say, we could not have been more wrong!

Following an honest discussion with the group about who we are and what art is. The minds of the young men were contemplating their favorite artists and ways in which they would like to share/explore art.

Our games were a hit and they were eager to express their favorite places in Detroit to us.
As a group we worked on the African tradition called "ashay", where we all create a unique sound and build all of the sounds together as we unite and play off of one another.

After class, two students spoke to us about their interest in Edgar Allen Poe and writing rhymes or scenes....

we took it as inspiration for the next day!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Welcome Day and Planning

The whole group is here and ready to go!

Today was full of Detroit, sunshine, good food and great discussion.

Following our "tour" of Detroit, we spent time planning/brainstorming/analyzing our arts and our mission. Sitting by the water of Lake St. Clair spurred imaginative, deep thought and beautiful goals for this week.

After a wonderful home-cooked meal (yea us!) and final touch ups to the plan, I can only say I am wholeheartedly confident and blessed to be working with such wonderful artists, or more importantly people.

This is sure to be a week to remember...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A success!

Thanks to everyone who supported us at the car wash! It was a wonderful success!

Also, many many many thanks to the beautiful women who participated by washing the cars!

It was a day full of hard-work, sunshine and laughs. You are all magnificent!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

CAR WASH Fundraiser!!

Help support our program by having your car washed for a donation! We need your help! As of right now, our funds are not complete, so we need to raise money in order to make this program a success!

SUNDAY JUNE 14, 2009

19733 Mack Ave. (Flagstar Bank next to Starbucks)
Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

Donation Letter

Dear Potential Patron, 

Detroit, once a center for music and the arts, is now struggling economically, culturally, and emotionally.  With recent economic and political events greatly impacting life in Detroit, help is needed now more than ever.

              As a group of artists from the Juilliard School, we will act to share our tools with the citizens of Detroit.  While there, our group will run an arts immersion program for “abuse/neglect” youths at Holy Cross Children’s Services and perform at various locations throughout the city.  We will engage the community in a revitalizing arts program while inspiring and empowering the creative spirit.  We hope to make a difference that will be a catalyst for growth.

The program will begin on June 20th and run for one week.  Our group aims to raise $3500 for airfare, food, and ground transportation.  With your help this enriching program can occur.  Your donation, regardless of monetary size, would be greatly appreciated.  Your support will help us illustrate the power of the arts as a universal tool for initiating change, and offer hope for a brighter future for Detroit.

We thank you for your support and patronage to the arts and the city of Detroit!

With warm regards,

Breanna O'Mara

Juilliard School

Check may be made payable and sent to:

Breanna O’Mara

60 Lincoln Center Plaza

The Juilliard School, Box 322

New York, NY   10023