After listening and observing the 24 teens I teach theater every week only sing songs that referred to women's body parts-- something about some 'bands and her dancing' and 'she bouncing it or shaking it to the floor'-- I don't remember the exact lyrics--I decided to open their ears and minds, hopefully, to different types of music. When I asked them why all the songs they were singing talk about women's bodies, they said "But, Ms. White, that's all they play on the radio..." Well, not on Ms. White's radio, they don't.
I think it is important for them to know that 1. There are other types of music out there and 2. I don't want the center of their musical universes to be all about the booty. Sorry, it's just not cool to me. Women have something beyond the two "B" words --boobs and booties--we have brains, too. I know this and I want them to know it. It's important to me that they feel empowered.
Last week was not a good week for us. And, I also heard that there was some sort of riot at the juvenile center where I teach a few days after. So, I thought it was very important for us to go beyond our usual stretches and try to get the positive energy flowing in class--even more so. So, we listened to some music "I Miss You" by Beyonce and "We Fall Down" by Donnie McClurkin as we did our stretches, floor exercises and deep breathing, Vinyasa.
I introduced the intro to "In the Heights", my Spanish girls LOVED it, "Defying Gravity", from "Wicked", and "Summer Lovin' (Nights)" from "Grease."
One of my girls, who has never participated in class before, really appreciated the fact that I had brought in music that she has grown up with as a Spanish girl. The Salsa tempo underneath the Hip hop lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda really struck a cord with my typically quiet student. She was laughing and listening intently to every rhyme as he talked about his neighborhood, his abuela, leche and everything in between. She was excited and energized throughout the rest of class and was my first volunteer to perform "A Midsummer Night's Dream." I was beyond happy watching her enthusiasm and I felt like I am really doing something that is touching these girls as I watched her burst out of her shell.
Most of the girls were familiar with "Grease" and some of them even sang along to "Summer Nights."
I explained to one of them the lyrics behind "Defying Gravity" and after her initial apprehension, she seemed to open her mind to the music after she found out exactly what the song is all about.
I watched them carefully throughout my two hours there, and the girls who gave me no push-back, participated freely and with open minds received Shakespeare-themed coloring books that I had left over from my "Shakespeare Against Cancer" event this past Tuesday.
It was a good class and I am looking forward to our last two classes together.
This has been a hard, amazing, challenging, tiring, heart-breaking, and, the most incredible, experience of my life. I feel as though this is the beginning of a new path for me--lots of ideas running through my head.