Kevin’s Q & A #29: What advice do i have for young artist/performers? Part 1
Part 1. PLEASE READ, share & comment, i think this one is important. the Q&A is fun, but the conversation AFTER is where the meat is! i’ve included our correspondence after i made the video and sent it. PLEASE support the arts, our kids and WHOMEVER they want to be. Our words change and affect the people and world around us, choose them carefully! i received some wonderful messages from some of the students at the school and i hear they are making a response video…CAN’T WAIT!
Jefferson wrote: “My students and I can’t wait! I will be showing it to all the students in the dance and theater program (about 600 students). I am honored that you are taking the time to do this for us. I have been a fan of yours for years and you have shown how hard work and dedication can insure a long career in the arts.”
Jefferson: “This is so wonderful! I turned the movie into a DVD so I can show it on the projectors in our dance/theater classes. On the DVD I introduced your video by including highlights of your career with pictures from your films, dancing and modeling. A couple of my students saw me editing it together and thought it looked and sounded great. One said “who is that hottie!” I’m sure you would have blushed. Thank you again for doing this! It is great when ever someone can give these young artists some positive guidance.”
Me: i’d love to hear what they think… or if they have other questions i’d be happy to answer! i made the video not knowing you were going to show it to such a big class lol. im very flattered that you are sharing my little answer vid with them, and honored to be even a tiny part of their journey as artists. thank you for giving me the opportunity to share with so many! tell them everyone started somewhere, they can be anything they want, but they have to believe in themselves first before anyone else will believe in them… or at least fake it til you make it
Jefferson: I am so grateful to get to do the work that I get to do with the students in our theater and dance program. I don’t get to teach the dance part though (even though it is what I always wished to be but sadly had a very homophobic father that never allowed dance for a boy). I do teach three levels of theater and direct four shows a year on our main stage (which seats 900). This fall we were the first middle school to stage HAIRSPRAY! I love to watch how art can inspire young people and how they can use it as a tool to work through the challenges in their lives. I try and teach them that their art is a great way to empower themselves and so much of what you say in your video is right on track with that. You are so spot on with what I have seen work and not work for artists. I love too that you completely celebrate who you are and that is so important right now for our kids.
We have had a really rough 18 months with suicides, especially of our GLBT youth (I have buried three now) and I think you are a great example of loving who you are. They really need that right now.
that is exactly why i started being so much more vocal about my beliefs and have such a bigger effort to share. not because what i have to say is any greater than what anyone else has to say, but simply that by being verbal and visible maybe something i say may hit home to someone out there… anyone… and make a difference for them. my mom didnt want me to dance either… but not because of any homophobia, merely because she didnt want to hear me tip-tapping around the house. i didnt tiptap around the house, but i took the class anyways and put tacks in my sneakers to make the sound (i was 10).
congrats on hairspray, that’s so fun. you must be an amazing teacher because it is obvious how much you truly care for these kids and ALL the tools that you are giving them not simply in the subject you teach, but in LIFE.
the final exams of every subject should be about how that subject relates to/enhances/informs/supports our LIVES. learning is not some dead information we retain temporarily to make it til final period, it is the very ESSENCE of who we are as beings. what is our life but a journey of discovery and revelation, of sensory input and constant change even when we are seemingly standing still. the more we absorb, the more we LISTEN to eachother, ourselves, our teachers, our brains and our hearts, and not just HEAR, the greater our path can be and the more CHOICE we will have in it. the life that just watches and hears is held captive by the environment that surrounds it. the life that listens and creates soars free into the unknown.
i wish with all my heart that kids everywhere could see the incredible future that they are. there are wonderful people doing wonderful things today, and there is no difference between them and these kids except time and opportunity. the nice thing about opportunity is that you can make your own. especially now where the world is connected and information is at your fingertips. we may be providing the stage, but these kids are the players. as kahlil gibran said so beautifully, they are the arrows of our heart.
even now i hope your kids realize that they make an impact. a HUGE impact. they hold in their hands the power to save those around them, to lift eachother up or even create lifelong trauma. what a beautiful world it would be if every kid realized early on that they can be responsible for not only what they do, but also for who they are and for EACHOTHER. As they get older they will see how trivial slights, disapproval, negative opinions and disagreements truly are, especially when held next to something as final as suicide. In my darkest moments i considered that as well, i continue to remind myself how many MAGICAL moments i would have missed in that scenario. its not always easy, but if everything was, we wouldn’t build any character. the highs and lows are what shape us, we can’t let them destroy us.
i spent a lot of my (teen) youth surrounded by people, and feeling lonely. it was mostly self-imposed because i was afraid to share all of myself with people. the people that made an impact on me were those who reached out and thru those walls i didnt even know were there. how does one overcome something one doesnt even know is there? by surrounding yourself with people who support whomever you want to be, and by supporting everyone else around you in being who they want to be, even if they may not support you back. it ALL comes back to you, in love, knowledge, success or respect.
i dont have it all figured out by a long shot. by sharing my process i hope to learn more about myself as well. i don’t know what im going to say when i answer these questions on video, but what invariably comes out is real for me. i havent edited one yet in any way and i like it like that.
if i could say something else to them i just want them to realize that they are perfect exactly as who they are. for everything they think is good or bad, beautiful or ugly, in the works or done…what you leave behind is how you treated others, and sometimes if you’re lucky, you create a vision of the future so powerful that the whole world cannot help but agree with you. and then it becomes so.
suffering is the often just the flipside and the measure of how much one truly cares, loves and feels. don’t dwell in the suffering, but celebrate the range of emotion you feel. CHERISH it. it is the ore that hides the vein, and time will erode it away like water and leave you with GOLD. breathe, let it wash over you and know that you are UNIQUE and the world can’t afford to lose you.
for the LGBTQ youths (q is ‘questioning’) especially… it takes the extraordinary courage of a peaceful warrior to declare who you are in the face of whatever may come back at you. NEVER be ashamed with WHO you are, be proud, do right and you will become the shoulders of strength that generations will stand on. it sounds grandiose, but that is the opportunity given to you already, NOW. the world is HUGE, there is a place for everyone. sometimes it may take a little longer to find your place, but if you keep looking you will always find it…or when you are strong enough, create it.
i had so much fun with those little tacks in my sneakers, even when they started poking through the sole. somehow those little choices we make to follow the things we love become a lifetime adventure. pack your own bags and buy your own ticket is my advice.
im rambling. i just wanted to let you know that me making a little video is nothing in comparison to what you are doing EVERY DAY. you are in the trenches with our kids. Memorial day should be to honor living breathing heroes like you as well.
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