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This newsletter is written and reported solely by students of the Bard Early College Academy. Working with these students in English classes has afforded me the opportunity to meet and read the works of many talented and expressive young writers, some of whom I met with additionally in a small journalism workshop. Together we discussed the major concepts of journalism, including objectivity, conciseness, leads, and interviews. Beyond our discussions of broader themes, however, students in the workshop were responsible for every step in the process, including the decision of which topics to write on, reporting on chosen subjects, and of course the actual writing. As the editor of BHSEC’s student newspaper, I am extremely pleased with the final result and feel that the writers have not only learned much about the subject but have also produced well organized, highly readable and informative journalism. Enjoy! - Will Glovinsky

Bard ECA

Chasity Napoleon

The students of Bard Early College Academy have been studying math, humanities and dance, and attended enrichment sessions. The Early College Academy program mainly focuses on deeper thinking and preparing students for rigorous high school work. Each of the teachers, most of whom teach at Bard High School Early College, had a specific way of approaching a subject to help students probe into complicated topics.

In math class, for example, the teacher emphasized the "meaning" of various laws of mathematics. For example, the instructor wanted students to understand the distributive law of multiplication, not merely memorize it. Students used games to help comprehend and apply the laws they learned, such as a math version of 'Jeopardy.'

The humanities teacher focused on teaching students self-reflection and understanding ourselves as writers and people. Students wrote essays, prompts and responded to music. There was a heavy concentration on what mattered to students, and how to approach a topic indirectly.

Dance was a very surprising class. Students thought it would be only hip-hop, but when they started studying they were soon learning Martha Graham modern, ballet, African, as well as hip-hop. The instructor required students not only to be familiar with technical terms but also the etymology of the names and the history behind the moves.

In enrichment students learned about study skills, listening, developing resumes and resolving problems. The teacher taught topics that she felt students would need to be successful in a high school environment, and conducted workshops on time management and dealing with stress.

Culture, History and Language: The hidden factors of a well sculpted dance

Sabrina C. Jones

On July 26th, 2007 Vissi Dance Theater showed an audience of Bard Early College Academy students and their families that dance can be so much more than just dance. It can be a history lesson and it can be a culture statement.  Dance is always more than what meets the unknowing eye.

The night started with "The Hoarde," a dance that incorporated many languages of movement.  It was a love story, and although a love story told through dance might call to mind a delicate ballet with girls in tutus and men carrying them around for most of the show, this piece beautifully executed techniques like modern and African dance.

 'The Hoarde' used music and movement to weave together narrative.  Scene 1 was 'The Carnival,' a festive engagement where the Prince and Princess of the story are introduced.   Scene 2 'Un Beso,' meaning 'one kiss' in Spanish entailed exactly what the title suggested.  Scene 3, 'Run Thunder, Run' is an obvious scene of fear.  The music, the dance implementation, the expression on the dancers' faces and the running made the audience believe that there was something to be afraid of. The fourth and final scene, 'Osiris and the Legion of Death,' was even more terrifying than the preceding one, although the dancers in black leather costumes and gray spiked Mohawks were funny looking.  Everyone in the audience knew that this scene was supposed to be a serious one but more people were laughing than thinking about how grave the situation was.

A very short intermission took place giving the dancers a minute to change costumes and mood.  The next piece, 'Amazing Grace,' showed a cheerful church service.  It was quite apparent that the audience enjoyed this piece.  There were people dancing in their seats and snapping their fingers.  If you were not there, you would think that the dancers just skipped around on stage smiling.  In fact, they were able to maintain their form and technique while showing that it was a church service and their attire, their movements and the music of the Chicago Mass Choir were all very appropriate.  There is always the typical stomping and shouting that many people think takes place at church and, though that is not always the case, the dancers played with that common perception to get the choreographer's message across.
One of the most touching pieces of the night, 'House of the Rising Sun,' is a very well known play, dance and song.  The first act shows a son determined to keep up with his father's every footstep, turn and jump.  His attempts to follow his father become too much for him.  He gets tired and grows weak.  His father realizes that he was too hard on him and did not even acknowledge his son's efforts.   I suspect that some of the parents and students in the audience could relate to this dance.

The next act told of a slave auction and the dance told of the horrid olden times down south when slaves were nothing to be concerned about.  Then dancers did such a great job telling the story and doing it so almost everybody could comprehend the themes.  The music complemented the choreography and the dance told the story so emotionally that even something as horrible as a slave auction became enjoyable to watch.

'Big Up' was the last performance of the night.  It was not a story in the same sense as the other dances but was engaging in its own way.  It was a more contemporary style of dance and the performers knew how to draw the crowd in even deeper in the feeling of the dance.  This was the ending piece of the performance but it was not the end of the show.

To conclude the night in an educational manner, there was a question and answer session where we learned that the performers are not only hard working on the stage, but most hold day jobs.  In the company there is a lawyer, a nurse, a teacher and a nanny.

All the four pieces were different, but the same people performed each one so I wanted to know what the one thing was that all four pieces have in common.  Of course, the effort, sweat and spirit are things that most dances have in common but, as the director stated, "In these dances, the biggest thing that is found throughout the use of dances is the use of language, not the language of tongue but the language of the body and feeling."