For the ninth year, Juilliard students headed to New Orleans over spring break to perform, teach, and do outreach work. This year, 18 actors, dancers and musicians plus two advisers worked on a Habitat for Humanity house, spent a day with the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and gave workshops and a benefit performance for a community youth program. Riley O'Flynn and Angela Falk wrote about the experience.
The other participants were Daniel Davila, Kellie Drobnick, Zack Hann, Casey Hess, Sean Howe, Jimmie “J.J.” Jeter, Jasminn Johnson, Allison Mase, Jeffery Miller, Victoria Pollack, Natsuko Takashima, Tiffany Townsend, Malik Williams, Jacob Wellman, Thomas Woodman, and Sebastian Zinca. Sabrina Tanbara and Rebecca Reuter were the advisers.
Something magical happens in New Orleans. Living, teaching, and performing with 18 talented artists for a week has created this special “thing” that none of us can quite put a finger on, but that we will do our best not to lose. In the day-to-day craziness of school, it’s so easy to lose sight of the big picture; it’s easy to forget the immense privilege we have to be able to express ourselves through art and to connect with people in such a personal way. We forget how lucky we are to pursue our passions. After this week in New Orleans, however, the importance and power of art is clearer than ever. Teaching and performing for students throughout the city was undoubtedly just as educational, if not more so, for all of us on the trip as it was for our pupils. Seeing the happiness they felt—the laughter, the curiosity—showed us that the connection art creates between people is so much more important than any technical perfection. Singing our rousing rendition of “Dancing in the Street” as we welcomed a family into their brand-new home will forever hold a place in our hearts, and remind us of the truly transformative power that art can have.