Everyone who has walked through the halls of IDEAS and Mosaic in recent weeks has noticed a giant peach, the huge copy of Matilda, and a small chocolate factory. These set pieces have had many people wondering how they would be used. That question was answered on Tuesday night when Diane Jones presented her Exhibition of Learning in the John Michael Kohler Art Center Matrix on Tuesday, May 24th.
Diane’s driving question was, “How can narrative patterns and themes in literature be transformed into dance?” She selected the works of Roald Dahl to explore this issue. Roald Dahl’s books were a childhood favorite of Diane’s and are recognizable by many.
Diane shared her process for interpreting and creating dances based on several books by Raold Dahl. The books she re-read for use in her project included James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches, and The BFG. She decided to utilize a stricter interpretation of the stories to essentially retell parts of each story through dance.
Diane recruited other dancers to assist with the presentation. The choreography involved dancers playing roles from the books and included using movement that reflected the specific book characters. “Childlike” was the word Diane used for the movements she incorporated into much of the piece.
The insects from James and the Giant Peach are personified in the dance through Diane’s choreography, song selection, and costumes, while the dancer representing Matilda incorporated the book into the performance. The stories transitioned on the stage through changes in music and introduction of new characters.
Getting back to those amazing set pieces, Diane thanked the engineering department at IDEAS Academy as well as many artists for their efforts to create the pieces. The stage interpretations of Roald Dahl’s books were evidence of the collaboration that takes place at IDEAS and for EOLs. Many students simply jumped in to assist on what they interpreted as a really cool project and a need of one of their peers.
IDEAS Academy doesn’t have finals. Finals, usually, are big examinations detailing everything learned at the end of a semester. When IDEAS students tell people that they don’t take these tests, there is generally some sort of disbelief of learning, like if we aren’t tested, we aren’t going to be prepared for the ‘real world’.
For those who do not already know us, IDEAS Academy is a public charter school within the Sheboygan Area School District committed to preparing students for a world that increasingly values creativity and innovation. It is a school where all students are enrolled in academic classes, arts seminars, and a unique, student-driven course called IDEAS Project Block. IDEAS Project Block is a semester-long class that provides students the opportunity to design and manage an original project of their choice.