Monday, April 16, 2007

The Language of Angels

Posted on behalf of Nivedita Moitra

Even as the tempo of the dance beats increased, sweat glistened on the faces of the young students as they followed Jacqueline Porter's moves and instructions -- different language or cultures posing no threat to great communication between them. The wise men have rightly said -- music is the language of angels.

The instructor, Jacqueline Porter, is a professional dancer, a dance teacher, and an entrepreneur; she is also a sponsor, and her students were comprised of sponsored children from the two community centers of Children International-SAHAY.

While no stranger to the Bollywood song and dance numbers that blare from tiny shops located in the narrow alleys of Kolkata, lessons from a professional had remained a distant dream to these children…till they met Jacquie. A graduate of Smith College, Jacquie always wanted to dance, and apart from having done shows on Broadway and National Tour she has also taught more than 3000 children internationally. But to go beyond her usual sponsor visit and spend so much of her valuable time with more sponsored children and conduct a very enjoyable workshop for them was a gesture that overwhelmed everyone at CI-SAHAY, especially as this was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of a treat for many of the children.

The workshop was conducted at the Jorasanko community center, and the children who attended it belonged to the slums near the center. The workshop was divided into two age groups of 5-6 years and 7-11 years. There were between 8 and 10 children in the first age group and 14 in the second. The two sponsored children of Jacquie also participated in the workshop. Jacquie taught the class stretching, as well as learning to clap with music, walk with music, jump to music, take running leaps and turns, and do a basic little hip hop dance. The responses of the children were overwhelming and it was a wonderful evening all round, one where all present witnessed that music is truly the outburst of emotion from the soul.

In fact, the children did not want the evening to end, and towards the end of the workshop emotions ran high with the children saying goodbye to Jacquie with tearful eyes.

The admiration, love and respect were mutual as is apparent through Jacquie's quote: "I have taught 3000-odd children, but this group is the fastest in learning and the most cooperative." And we at the agency would like to add that we look forward to an encore soon.

Nivedita Moitra is the communications coordinator for Children International’s agency in Kolkata, India.

1 comment:

Cath said...

The arts are always a powerful language! Reading this story touched my heart as so many CI blogs do.

Here's a poem that I have hanging in my office...I think it captures the essence of why sharing the various arts disciplines is so important to humanity:

"The arts, like science, are about discovery and creativity.

The arts, like social studies, are about worlds and cultures beyond our personal experience.

The arts, like mathematics, are about systematic divisions of time and space.

The arts, like sports, are about pushing to the limit for a singular achievement and working cooperatively to accomplish a goal.

The arts are about play, and play is about nourishing the human spirit."

It was apparent that these young spirits were nourished by your gift! Touching those children's lives with dance and music has etched a wonderful memory in their hearts...and perhaps given them a gleam of hope too.

Amazing generosity!