Sunday, March 27, 2005

North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble rehearsal

Yesterday was the band's first rehearsal for this year's North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble concert.

Gene Medler is the genial mastermind behind this great group, for whom I have played once a year for a long, long time. The kids and their parents all worship him. I think he's pretty great, too.

This is the inside of the door in the upstairs studio at the Chapel Hill Ballet School where we meet.

The kids in the group range from extra-tiny to seniors in high school. Over the years I've seen the extra-tiny ones grow to be high-school seniors, and then graduate, and some even come back as guest performers.

The group is very tight, like a huge pile of puppies or the Thirty Musketeers. The older ones help the younger ones, and then when the younger ones become the older ones they help the next generation of little tappers who come along.

This picture from the NCYTE website is of a cute kid who is profoundly deaf. You have to tap him on the shoulder to get his attention. He was smaller than this when I first met him. The picture's a year or two old - now he's quite a bit bigger and a very good tapper.

Matt the drummer was first to set up. He establishes a "defensible position" in the corner, barricading himself strategically so that no tappers come crashing into him. The bassist and the pianist were not set up yet when I was taking these pictures but you can see the bass case.

Meanwhile the kids were rehearsing their gumshoe number. There are jingling bells on the boots and they sing an African song as they dance. They also dance to jazz; fiddle tunes (well, that's why I'm there); Haydn by the Mallarme string quartet; techno; and sometimes just the sound of their own feet.

NCYTE is the perfect outlet for super-energetic kids. Surely a lot of kids who are diagnosed ADD and put on ritalin really just need tons and tons of noise and exercise? These kids are so focused and so dedicated to their work with Gene. They rehearse their moves in every available corner whenever they are not needed center stage. They are rarely still. They are jubilant.

The show is next weekend, April 2, at the Carolina Theatre. Shows at 2:00 and 7:00 pm. Tickets from Carolina Theatre Box Office 919.560.3030 and The Ballet School of Chapel Hill 919.942.1339.

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At 7:43 AM, Blogger vegemiterules said...

Yeah finally got in to comment WHEW!
G'day Melinama, so nice to meet you, it is great to see young people enjoying themselves immensely and to hear in your post how proud you are of them. Music/dance gives us confidence, whether we are good or bad at it, we are giving it a go and enjoying ourselves. All the best with the upcoming performances, I can feel the adrelaine from here, enjoy and feel/be proud. BTW I have had the pleasure of visiting via Michele's meet and greet.

At 8:08 AM, Blogger Badaunt said...

I'm with you on the ADD thing. I had the pleasure of observing some classes given by a friend in NZ who teachers Music and Drama to children, and in one of the classes there was a girl with problems. She didn't have ADD, but something else (I forget what) so that she didn't connect a lot of the time. (Some sort of autism?) This student was new to my friend, who was demoing classes for their regular teachers - she went in cold.

The kid would have thrown me off completely, but my friend is experienced, and I guess recognized what was going on when the kid didn't respond. She just left her alone. When the kid DID respond, she was several activities behind everybody else, and my friend praised her and carried on. It was something special to see that little girl's face when she knew she'd done well (and she had, only a few steps behind). Her regular teacher expressed surprise later in the meeting, saying she'd never seen the kid so responsive.

Drama and music really work for kids like that. (Plus a good teacher, of course.)

At 3:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NCYTE's website has now moved to COme check it out!


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