Last week fourth and fifth graders participating in Green Street’s Summer Arts & Science Academy created their very own Diffraction “Rainbow” Glasses. Each student’s creativity shone through their designs resembling a cat, a butterfly, an elephant, a blue bunny, the United States flag, imaginary monsters, and more! These students have been learning about topics related to light and vision with teacher Mariah Reisner. Overall 12 teachers and teaching assistants are sharing their time and talent with the 37 Summer Academy students in grades 1-5. This pilot program at Green Street included classes in visual art, music, dance, experimentation, and community science, and it already is being deemed a success!
A 28-year resident of Middletown’s North End, I retired from full-timework to become a writer in 2006. My Green Street Arts Center experience began when I took a writers workshop with Dan Pope, which provided the work atmosphere and critiquing I needed. I was new to critically viewing works and hadn’t been in a classroom in decades, so this was a refresher course that provided new information. Dan gave us relevant feedback, with lectures on how to critique and handouts of examples. During this course an editor accepted my first short story. What a rush! “Synesthetics” hit print April, 2007 and is online at scars.tv. Two others have been added there since.
Having whetted my writing appetite, the next year I workshopped with Sari Rosenblatt, who challenged us with “quickie” in-class assignments. She’d hand out random photographs to each of us, then give us 5-10 minutes to compose a story about the picture. I’d never dabbled in “flash fiction” before, but the exercises produced some fairly good material, which stunned me. Two of the eleven stories I’ve published are flash pieces. Later that year a one-day workshop with Jamie Cat Callan presented similar challenges; we composed five-minute works, again with positive results.
Since Writers Out Loud began in 2008, I’ve attended every month, mainly because reading aloud shows where faults lie and aids the rewriting process. The primary side benefit has been meeting many delightful prose people, who’ve become friends, literary influences, and indispensable sources of feedback. The Writers Out Loud ambience is relaxed; attendees bring cheese and crackers, soda, and home-made sweets to enjoy. The first half hour gives us time to socialize and catch up on prior conversations. I normally do a short reading, leading into Cocomo’s announcements and introduction of the evening’s readers. After each person’s oration, the group acknowledges strengths and weaknesses. One reading that moved me especially was Piyar Delerme’s, “Cornflower Blue,” which she’ll read this Thursday. It’s a touching and delicately-phrased description of a brutal situation that made my arm hairs stand at attention.
As a resident of Middletown, I believe in supporting the community and its artistic folks and I am forever grateful for the opportunities Green Street provides. Writers Out Loud has provided prose writers the chance to give voice to their fictions, their memories, their lives; I relish creating characters and situations but have also read memoirs about key friends in my life. Most of all, though, I’ve enjoyed writing about my wife, Carol, in some 18 efforts, both fictional and non-fictional. A few Writers Out Loud attendees have told me they want to meet her based on my readings. Apparently, I’m developing the ability to touch people. That is my goal.
Submitted by Al Bower, Middletown resident and Green Street participant
Writers Out Loud: Cream of the Crop
Thursday, July 29, 2010 | 7pm
Regular Price $8; Member Price $5
For reservations call (860) 685-7871 or email email@example.com.
Join the creative cast of Writers Out Loud in an evening of hand-picked readings by Middletown’s freshest up-and-coming prose authors. The evening will culminate in the presentation of the Golden Kiss Award—make sure your vote is counted! This event is dedicated to the memory of Janice M. Albert in celebration of her life and contributions to our creative community.
Floating Theater Company presents “In Your Face: Untamed and Unapologetic”
Thursday, July 15, 2010 7pm
Floating Theater Company returns to Green Street Arts Center of Wesleyan University for their annual staged reading of new plays by Connecticut writers. This year’s theme is IN YOUR FACE, works based on social and political topics. Please Note: Mature subject matter and language may not be suitable for children.
In these nine new short works, playwrights take on a variety of contemporary themes from corporate greed to gun control. The adult situations and language used in the works expand upon themes including the circus-like politics surrounding a women’s right to choose, labor and safety issues for American factory workers, and sexual identity and self-expression.
The Floating Theater Company, with co-directors Jean Wertz and Jenny Lecce, provides support to playwrights and actively seeks to partner with existing theater companies and Connecticut actors in the development of new works.
Tickets are $8; Member Price $5. For tickets call (860) 685-7871 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets may also be purchased at the door.
On Saturday, June 12th, the Green Street Arts Center was filled with excitement. The 6th Annual Arts Festival took place and, despite the rain, was a great success. With performances like “Pickles” from the Songwriting class and the debut of “Middletown: Our Town”, an animated video created by the Digital Animation class, the entertainment was energetic, captivating, and certainly inspiring.
Even before entering the building, the festival’s energy was already evident. Teaching artist Anna had a line of eager kids waiting to get their faces painted, the neighborhood ice cream truck was popular as ever, and Frank was busily handing out free popcorn. Upon entering Green Street, you could already smell delicious food provided by our partners at Esca Restaurant & Wine Bar, Iguanas Ranas Taqueria, and Firehouse Steakhouse. Jerry’s Pizza had a table with free pizza that was always surrounded by hungry Arts Fest attendees. Broad Street Books brought a great assortment of arts supplies and books, and DeFabrica Therapeutic Massage was very popular, constantly providing people with refreshing massages.
After satisfying their hunger, guests could choose from a variety of amusements. The African Drumming classes were set up in the Multipurpose Room, providing hours of rhythmic entertainment. Adults and kids alike were invited to do arts and crafts in both the Wet and Dry Arts Rooms. Meanwhile, across the hall in the Performance Studio there was constant action, with breakdancing, musical performances, salsa dancing, animated videos, hip-hop, and more, continuously provided enjoyment for an exuberant audience.
Students in the Breakdancing class staged a breakdance battle to showcase their unbelievable moves. Young musicians displayed their talents in solo performances, as well as collectively in the Songwriting class’s amusing song “Pickles”. The salsa class inspired the audience to move and grove to Latin beats, and the Digital Animation class highlighted their skills with a video called “Middletown: Our Town”. ThoroEnergy also wowed the audience with a dramatic and engaging hip-hop performance.
When Arts Fest ended, attendees left with smiles on their faces, students left with a sense of pride in their accomplishments, and the staff were pleased with the success of the event and happy to have made new friends.
If you are interested in learning more about how your child can get involved in one of these (or other) great classes, call us at (860) 685-7871 or email email@example.com. For more information on upcoming events and classes, visit our website at www.greenstreetartscenter.org.
Green Street’s Annual Arts Festival is something I, and all of Green Street’s friends, look forward to each year. This year’s Arts Fest will take place on Saturday, June 12 and is sure to be an afternoon filled with creativity, excitement, food, and fun. ArtsFest is a great way for our students to showcase their hard work and successes throughout the year, and for the community to join us and participate in the fun as well.
This year features performances from Fresh Obsessed
breakdancing crew, ThoroEnergy hip hop crew, salsa students, and music classes. I am especially excited for the West African Djembe Orchestra- a diverse group of people ages 7 to 57 from the After School program, adult class, and Cromwell Children’s Home residency program who will be performing together. With the strong lead of teachers Jocelyn and Aaron, the group will rock out the beats of Lamban, Makru, and Yankadi.
For the first time, our outside attractions will include delicious food from partners in our membership program. We are pleased to welcome Esca Restaurant & Wine Bar, Iguanas Ranas Taqueria, Jerry’s Pizza, Broad Street Books, and DeFabrica Therapeutic Massage to the festivities.
While enjoying live performances and great food, you will also be able to meander through the building to view the artwork, stop by a classroom for a free mini-class in Salsa or visual arts. You can enter a raffle to win a free Green Street class or even plants from Starlight Gardens in Durham. Don’t miss out on a chance to sign up for Summer classes right on the spot.
In addition to this scintillating array of amusements, mural artist Marela Zacarias will begin painting the new mural, designed by Green Street students, across the street at St. Vincent dePaul’s Place. All community members are welcome and encouraged to help out.
By the way, have I mentioned that all of this is free? It is! I hope to see you there!
In 2005, Jean started volunteering at the after school program. At first thejob entailed helping with the snacks that are given to the children when they arrive, followed by assisting with the homework assignments. The hardest part was adjusting to the confusion, as 40-50 lively students hopped off the bus and were eager to begin another afternoon program at Green Street. Anything beyond fourth grade mathematics was a challenge as they don’t teach it the way the Shaws were taught. After the dust settled (thanks to Cookie’s handling of the initial chaos… a distinctive and ever-present voice) things went more smoothly. The most rewarding part of this venture was making new friends and watching as the students grew and began to work together. Just a “please” or “thank you” was a big reward.
It was in the fall of 2006 that Biff started to hang out with Jean … just to see what it was all about. Little did he expect that a casual drop-by would become a regular part of the weekly calendar. Helping with snack was easy and sometimes fun. Mentoring was hard and many times just plain boggling. Reading for comprehension was a challenge and adding and subtracting using one’s fingers or checkmarks on a page is a long way from rote learning done 70 years ago.
We persevered and the kids, while baffled by our inability to understand their way of learning, were really very patient with us – sometimes more patient than we were with them or with our own frustration.
It wasn’t until 2009, when a dedicated corps of Wesleyan students and others took charge of mentoring, did we hit our stride. Since then we have concentrated on food “service” and service it has become. Special orders are the call of the day. The old “some like it hot – some like it cold” has become our signature. We have learned who likes only peanut butter on peanut butter and jelly days, and who prefers a turkey and cheese without cheese. The students obviously appreciate it. They show it in many ways and if we have gained nothing more than their respect and a semblance of good manners … we feel we have achieved our goals.
As a result, it really didn’t end up so much a vocation, as a labor of love.
Submitted by Jean and Biff Shaw, After School Volunteers
Even as we begin to wrap up the After School year, Green Street still relies heavily on its volunteers! There are a number of After School and non-After School volunteering opportunities available. If you are interested in getting involved, or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (860) 685-7871. We hope to hear from you soon!
Dancing is my life and it is something I really want to pursue as a career path. I started dancing as soon as I could walk. As far as I can remember I always loved watching music videos on TV and listening to music in general. I mainly taught myself how to dance; it must run in the family because my mom loved to dance in her younger days. I enjoyed dancing so much that I thought, “Why not get better by taking some classes?” This is where Green Street came in.
Being at the Green Street Arts Center has helped me with my goal of dancing in many ways. The classes and workshops that I took had hip-hop teachers that were older and more experienced in the “dance world”. I also met choreographers that gave me advice on how to enhance my dancing skills.
In 2007, I decided to start my own dance crew called ThoroEnergy. This
endeavor was a major one and actually helped me get my foot in the door. My crew consisted of about 10 people and is constantly growing and evolving. We’ve definitely come a long way. We have had the opportunity to perform in many places, including talent shows, festivals, parties, schools, and even appeared in a music video. After the great exposure that has come from these opportunities, ThoroEnergy is still standing, and definitely dancing.
In addition to inspiring me to start ThoroEnergy, Green Street has also provided me with a choreography and teaching job, which involves teaching hip-hop to After School students and whoever else is interested. This has been a help because I am getting a lot more publicity with my dancing, and meeting a lot more people who can help me on my way to reaching my goal. I now get called to different places, such as schools and festivals to teach. This has gotten me started on reaching my goal of dancing, but I’m definitely not finished yet. I plan to go to a college for dance, to advance myself and hopefully into the spotlight. I am trying everything it takes to get to where I want to be and I’m not planning on giving up.
The Youth Dance Invitational that I judged was a success. Kids from the North End came down to battle, trying to take a trophy home. I definitely had a good time watching the battles, and was surprised to see some really talented dancers. Hopefully Green Street will be able to host something else like that again.
Rachel recently sat down with b-boy (breakdancer) and Green Street teaching artist Bryan Giles to talk about the upcoming screening of Middletown B-boys and the Youth Dance Invitational.
Q: What is your dancing history?
A: I have been b-boying, exclusively, for the last 15 years. I got into it when I snuck into a party at Wesleyan University when I was 15. I saw it for the first time and it was just something I knew I wanted to do. I had no foresight that it would take me to the places I have been.
The opportunities and honors that b-boying has given me are huge. When I lived in Thailand, I was asked to dance for the queen. I was unable to perform but to be the first American b-boy asked to perform for her was a big honor.
Q: Tell me about Of Shadow and Earth.
A: Of Shadow and Earth is a b-boy crew of 15 active members, and 30 additional members. It’s not only that though; we are a family. We all started together, trained together and sessioned together. It’s great to be a part of a collective mind of people who are willing and looking to support each other, not just in b-boying, but in life as well. The crew began in Middletown and has branched out to include members in other cities and states. Bryan battling a fellow b-boy.
Q: What’s Fresh Obsessed?
A: Fresh Obsessed is a youth b-boy crew of 12 members based out of Green Street Arts Center. It started a few years ago because I wanted my students to know the other side of b-boying; not just the “academic” side of it. I wanted them to experience what it means to be a b-boy and to work and train hard to go to battles. More importantly, I wanted them to learn what it means to be in a crew and how to support each other. For me, I view the team as a great leadership opportunity for the kids. They all have their different strengths, which come through in their training.
Q: What is it like to teach at Green Street Arts Center?
A: Wow. It is such an amazing experience to have. Working with these kids helps me strive to be a better person and to be a positive influence for them, especially when what generally gets shown in hip hop culture is negative and excessively decadent. What I show them is true hip-hop culture, where money and race don’t matter. What does matter is building your own identity within hip-hop.
Some of the members of Fresh Obsessed have displayed such skill that they have gained the attention of members from Of Shadow and Earth and have been asked to battle in to the ranks of the crew. It’s something that I am very proud of and I am happy to give the students this opportunity.
Q: Tell me about filming the documentary Middletown B-Boys.
A: It was started in 2004 and was a fun experience if not a little weird at times. I was not used to having cameras follow me and peer into the intimate moments during practices and at events. It was a good experience for us. We, as a crew, were happy that someone was taking an interest in us and in our culture and wanting to document the work and process that goes into the style. And I think that a lot of people only see the end product, what comes from the time we spend training, and they don’t see what it is we have to go through to get to that point or what sacrifices we have to make. I think the film shares some insight into this.
Q: What is the Youth Dance Invitational?
A: TheYouth Dance Invitational is a kids’ dance battle for ages 8-16. It is meant to encourage dancing and the use of dance as a creative outlet to stay out of trouble. First of all it, is a chance for kids to compete. A lot of kids that are into street dance are not aware that there is a bigger dance scene than what goes on in their neighborhoods or their school dances. Secondly, it is a chance for them to meet and compete against kids in their age groups. And hopefully inspire them to become better dancers. We chose Green Street to host the Invitational because Fresh Obsessed and ThoroEnergy, a local hip hop dance crew, are based here.
Q: Tell me about the day.
A: When the dancers arrive they will sign in and there will be a warm up dance session. Then the judges will showcase their skills before competition begins. There are two competitions, one-on-one b-boy/b-girl and hip hop freestyle dance. All ages will compete against one another. We have a prize package from Losst Unnown for the first and second place winners in each of the two categories and trophies for the first, second, and third prize. We will also have DJ N.E.B who will be on hand to DJ the event. He has over twenty years of experience playing music for these types of competitions.
Thank you to Bryan for sitting down and talking with us. To see him in action be sure to come to the Youth Dance Invitational and the Middletown B-Boys film screening. Here is more info on the two events happening this weekend:
On Friday, filmmaker Bridget Palardy, Wesleyan University Class of ’05, will present Middletown B-Boys, a documentary following two B-Boy crews currently operating in Middletown, Of Shadow and Earth and 4-ONE. According to Palardy, the film “is a portrait of the two crews as they negotiate religion, race, drug abuse, and life in a small city.” Middletown B-Boys recently won an award from the Brooklyn Academy of Music and was officially selected by the Chicago International Hip Hop Film Festival. Following Palardy’s presentation the screening, there will be a cypher, or breakdancing event, between local crews.
The following day will feature a competition between the best local youth dance groups, hosted by ThoroEnergy, Of Shadow and Earth, and Losst Unnown, in partnership with Green Street. ThoroEnergy is a newly formed hip-hop dance troupe featuring several Green Street students and founded by alumnus Eric Quiñones. Prizes will be awarded for the top dancers in a one-on-one b-boy/b-girl battle and hip hop freestyle categories.
Middletown B-Boys: Film Screening and Breakdancing Event
FRIDAY, May 21, 2010 | 7pm
$8 Non-Members; $5 members/students/seniors
Recently the Green Street staff went out to lunch to enjoy good food, good company, and beautiful weather. They decided to take advantage of the discounts they receive at local businesses with their Green Street membership card. At Tandoor Indian Restaurant, Jessica, Lisa, Sarah-Jane, Rachel, and Claudia enjoyed delicious food from the lunch buffet, which offered dishes such as pattar paneer, keema curry, chicken tikka masala, and freshly baked naan; there was certainly something for everyone.
Claudia had the shrimp korma and said, “It was such a nice change of pace in my work day to be able to experience the tantalizing flavors of the Indian cuisine at Tandoor”. For dessert they all went to Cold Stone Creamery where Rachel thoroughly enjoyed her OREO Overload. “There’s something about Cold Stone that I really like. They’re so friendly and it’s a very welcoming atmosphere,” she said.
Cold Stone was one of the original Green Street Membership partners. “It’s
amazing to see that, in just a few short months, we’ve expanded our Membership program to include over 52 partners,” marveled Jessica, “and it’s wonderful to continue to support one of our original partners as well.” In the same day, Jessica ran to It’s Only Natural Market, one of Green Street’s newest partners, and used her membership for a 10% discount. “In a matter of minutes, I used my Green Street membership card at three different places around Middletown, and there are so many other opportunities to do so. The Green Street Arts Center Membership Program is a great way for individuals to support local businesses, community partners, and Green Street while getting fantastic deals at the same time.”
Green Street’s membership program continues to evolve and expand. Our most recent partners are the Cardinals Nest and Tschudin Chocolates. Visit our membership website to see what great deals you can get at all of our partner businesses and regional organizations!
To become a member call (860) 685-7871 or email email@example.com and say “Yes! I want to become a member!”
What makes a community? It is not the buildings and roads of a place, but
the bonds between people, that create a community. This is apparent in Reaghan Tarbell’s film, To Brooklyn and Back: A Mohawk Journey. The film tells the story of the Mohawk people of Kahnawake, Quebec, who, for over 50 years, have occupied a 10 square block neighborhood in the North Gowanus section of Brooklyn called Little Caughnawaga.
A chance for employment is what led the skilled ironworkers of Kahnawake to Brooklyn, and their wives and children followed. The women, too, often sought work opportunities in the “golden” city of New York. The women were instrumental in keeping the community strong and Mohawk culture alive in the Brooklyn neighborhood. But the people of Little Caughnawaga never forgot where they came from, and often travelled the long journey between Brooklyn and Quebec to visit their extended families. The film also covers the tragic Quebec Bridge collapse of 1907, a catastrophe which killed 75 people, including 33 men from the Kahnawake community.
Reaghan now works in New York City and lives in Brooklyn, just a few blocks away from the Mohawk community that she heard stories about while growing up in Kahnawake. The women who built this community were her grandmothers, aunts and other relatives. Reaghan explains, “Never have I thought more about them than during my own time living in Brooklyn. Although many years have passed I had a feeling, based on my own experiences, that deep down not much has changed for Mohawk women. I wanted to learn about their experiences. I wanted to hear about the issues they faced and I wanted to hear it from the women in whose path I was now walking.”
To screen the film and learn more about Reaghan Tarbell, come to Green Street on Friday, May 14 at 7pm. Suggested donation is $5.
Submitted by Stephanie Elliott, Friend of Green Street and Publicist at Wesleyan University Press