When Steel Talks

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The Danny Kaye Steelband
has it's turn on stage

The Danny Kaye School Arts Festival showcases steelband and more


Arts Festival in Pictures
 

Brooklyn, New York - We first met the youngsters of the Danny Kaye PS (Public School) 149 Steelband a couple months ago when they accompanied New York veteran steel orchestra Pantonic to MIT in Boston.  Then, they were filled with wonder as Pantonic grabbed the spotlight during the 2007 campus preview weekend.  On Wednesday June 6 it was the turn of the PS 149'ers to star, and show their fellow students just how it is done, as they took their turn behind their instruments as part of the school's annual Danny Kaye Arts Festival on Sutter Avenue in Brooklyn.

As they played, boys and girls of all ages, some quite young, swarmed around pans and players to get a bird's eye view on the steelband.  They were quite self-sufficient, as Arts Coordinator Marcia Eversley would later tell When Steel Talks (WST), basically setting up their instruments for the event, practicing under the watchful eye of 12 year-old Ryan Goulbourne, and deciding what they wanted to play!

Ms. Eversley (left) explained to WST that the steelband performance was one of several workshop activities taking place throughout the school, and open to parents and family, as well as the school student body.  All transpired within a four-hour time span which gave visitors and students alike multiple opportunities to observe, and even participate in the workshops showcasing the talents of the youngsters under the guidance of their teachers.  Now in it's seventh year, Ms. Eversley explained that the original concept for the Arts Festival was to allow students who were not exposed to an Arts discipline during the school year, to have that opportunity at the workshops during the festival.  So for a student who had not participated in any Arts activity, he/she would do so, via Dance, for example, and fulfill that discipline requirement within the preparation period and during the culmination of the festival.  Yaffa Cultural Arts, Creative Educational Systems and Young Dancers in Repertory Partnership worked in tandem with the Danny Kaye School in the areas of music, theater and dance, respectively, and were also involved in the preparation of the students for the day's presentations. 

When Steel Talks was able to see firsthand two of the dance exhibitions taking place on the fourth floor, the location of the school's dance studios.  In rooms located next to each other, Russian and Chinese dances were in session; in others, puppetry, face painting, story telling, arts & crafts, as well as other dance exhibitions showcasing cultures from other parts of the world, and much more were on exhibition during the four-hour Arts extravaganza. 

Whilst the children were engaged in activities all over the school, it was still business as usual for many of the academic staff; WST was introduced to principal Enid Silvera (left) and one of the school's computer instructors - Martin Richard (center), who were keeping the administrative wheels turning even while the Arts Festival unfolded throughout the building and outside.

 

WST appreciated PS 149's personal touch when Ms. Eversley thoughtfully arranged refreshments and mementos in advance for our crew on hand to cover the event.  Another thoughtful detail on the part of administration was to have PS 149 students as  'Ambassadors' on hand, immediately identifiable in white shirts and with respective Ambassador tags highlighted with red ribbons. Their task was to roam the school, from top to bottom, identifying lost souls (like WST) and steer them to their desired activity destinations!  So kind, both youngsters merrily suggested should there be further directional issues, WST could 'simply plop down and have a seat' to be discovered once more, sooner or later, on their rounds.  Quaint!  How fortunate for parents and visitors to have eloquent and polite Ambassadors Georelys Torres (right) and Brandon Hedgepeth (left) on hand.

A short while later, it was back to the business of edutainment in the school yard, as Trinbagonian musical aggregation Interjah - twenty-plus years in existence - and for the festival, featuring Gregory Valentine on steelpan, simultaneously educated and entertained the youngsters.  They did not miss the 'golden' opportunity to impart some musical history, or wisdom about the 'ills' of fast food, all the while holding the attention of their audience.  The group seized the opportunity to feature a repertoire of varied musical genres and captivated students, teachers and visitors alike.  And the onlookers followed instructions well, as Interjah gave orders to dance, prance, and scream, in true soca style.  When the group called for a teacher to lead the charge, fifth grade teacher Keisha Lewis (right) stepped up to the plate magnificently to strut her musical stuff right in front of the students.

Even as the music was center stage in the yard, there was still more transpiring on Wyona Street directly in front the school, which had been cordoned off to allow still more students to enjoy their lunch hour, participating in double dutch, basketball, etc.  The weather cooperated marvelously for the festival, which was no doubt one of the most enjoyable days for the students (and some teachers!) in the school's calendar year.

 


Arts Festival in Pictures


 


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