On May 17, students from our spring program at Transition Plus will perform a brand new, collaboratively-created dance at the first ever Upstream Arts Annual Meeting and Fundraiser! We’re thrilled that they will be joining us for this celebration. For a sneak preview of what’s to come, here’s a brief Q&A with Upstream Arts Teaching Artist Lindsey Samples, who is helping develop the performance.
What is Transition Plus, and what’s the nature of the Upstream Arts program there?
Transition Plus is a Minneapolis Public School program that serves students ages 18-21 who are eligible for special education transition services. Students learn a variety of skills ranging from independent living, job readiness, and preparing for/accessing post-secondary education. Upstream Arts classes focus on learning those soft skills that are so important in obtaining and maintaining employment, self-advocacy, and appropriate social interactions with peers and co-workers. Through dance, poetry, music, and work-based acting scenarios, we learn about reading body language, how to troubleshoot challenges at work, creative decision making, focus, teamwork, and more. [Click here to watch a short video about the work of Upstream Arts at Transition Plus.]
Can you give us a sneak peek into the performance that you’re developing with the students at Transition Plus?
At the Upstream Arts Annual Meeting and Fundraiser on May 17, students in our class at TPlus will be performing a dance based off of a poem they created in class. The poem, titled Rap Movement: A Powerful Story, has a lot of great lines in it that inspire movement. “Swoosh! Bomp! Beep beep beep! Blooming soft and calm out of sleepy dreams.” These words are active, and the students have choreographed movement that corresponds to the poem. Students have learned how to take a simple movement of the body and twist it into a sequence of movements over a count of 8. They are now working through the editing process of their dance, morphing the original moves into more unique creative choices and fine-tuning them for an audience. This same poem is being interpreted through animation by artist David Luke, whose animated videos will be on display at the Annual Meeting as well.
What kind of work do you create as a professional artist outside of Upstream Arts? How does that work relate to your teaching with Upstream Arts, and especially this project with the students at Transition Plus?
I am an actor, director, and teaching artist. I began my artistic journey as a dancer, so the type of work I like to do is very physical. Teaching with Upstream Arts has allowed me to imagine different possibilities of moving, thinking, learning, and being in this world that I would have never considered. I am always having to invent new ways of seeing, listening, and understanding. As an artist I couldn’t imagine a better creative stimulant than teaching a room full of such diverse learners. The students at Transition Plus are in such an interesting stage of life, just to add to the mix. They’re really grappling with independence, being so ready for independent living and yet scared at the same time of all the things they are still unsure of. That’s life, and that’s definitely the artistic process!
Why should people come see this performance at the Upstream Arts Annual Meeting and Fundraiser?
As teaching artists, we are privileged to see so much amazing work emerge from our participants. We are so lucky to witness some truly amazing moments in class. The public rarely gets to see these moments, unless you’re an educator or staff person in the room with us. This is a unique opportunity to see what the magic is all about and a great way to celebrate the collaboration between Upstream Arts and the communities we serve.
Experience this exciting new dance by students from Transition Plus at the first ever Upstream Arts Annual Meeting and Fundraiser on May 17 at Pillsbury House Community Center! This event is FREE and OPEN to all – click here to learn more and RSVP.