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Blog: Thursday, March 12th, 2020

Why are YOU waiting?

Very recently, a group of dancers, singers, and actors from the Abbotsford School of Integrated Arts returned from Los Angeles, California.  They were visiting the Orange Country school of the arts to participate in arts classes and build an international connection between our two artist communities.  The students took part in dance classes with professional choreographers, sat in on studio drawing sessions with models, and even had an opportunity to learn stage combat and production design.  The Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) was wonderfully warm and welcoming and made sure our students and staff felt like they belonged.  The friendships and professional connections that were made during our visit embody the comradery that naturally exists between passionate, creative artists.

Community connection is something that is very important to our school.  Our model wouldn’t be successful if it didn’t have a passionate student body, supportive parents behind the scenes, dedicated instructional staff, and performance opportunities to share with the city of Abbotsford and beyond.  Our trip to work with OCSA was a wonderful opportunity to connect to a like-minded group of passionate educators and students and broaden our sense of community even further.

The Orange County School of the Arts (or OCSA) is a charter school in the United States that provides rigorous academic instruction for its students during regular school hours, then provides rich artistic opportunities for its students in the evening.  Experts from around Los Angeles are brought in as artists in residence to work alongside their students and provide them with real world artistic training. Dance instructors are brought in from local studios, production design teams are brought in from LA’s thriving film industry, and actors and musicians who make a living in the arts world share their insights with students who are passionate for the arts.

Near the end of our trip, our students had an opportunity to take a dance workshop with one of the program coordinators who works for Disney’s preforming arts.  This artist in residence led by example and spoke about the importance of taking risks, being present, and embracing new learning free of the fear of doing something wrong.  In her session, mistakes were to be celebrated, not regretted. To make her point, at the end of class she had the students demonstrate the new choreography she had taught them by splitting the group in half and having each half preform for the other.   When each group had finished, she turned on a TV and revealed that this portion of the dance workshop had been recorded so that the students could watch themselves.  The students excitedly watched and after sharing the clip, the dance instructor asked a simple, but powerful question:  “If you knew ahead of time you were being recorded, would you have changed how you danced?”  Many of the students raised their hands only to have the dance instructor sharply respond to them with another question: “Why are you waiting?”  The point she was making was that as learners, our students shouldn’t be waiting for ‘the camera to be turned on’, to make their experience really count.  Why wait for the test or project that counts for the most marks to try your best and fully engage?  Each day in school is most rewarding if our students embrace their passions and embody the entirety of their potential.  This definitely is something that takes encouragement. Taking educational risks, honoring the learning process, and being ok with making mistakes should be empowering, and not something that holds our students back.

I am not a dance teacher, but the words “Why are you waiting?” were just as powerful for me as they were for the students.  If you were to take a look at how your day has gone today, or yesterday, or even what you are planning to do tomorrow, what is that you would do differently?  More importantly, why are you waiting?

Tyler Horner
Vice Principal, ASIA Sumas Mountain