Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Where Ideas May Lead You

Class discussions often spark ideas. The magic is not in the ideas, but in where those ideas take you. (That's the "creation" in the word "creativity.")

Our friends at Dance Excel in Gary, Indiana, have used their classroom sparks to create a beautifully illustrated children's book and full scale dance production, The Spirit of the Baobab Tree.

To get an idea of how beautifully illustrated Dionne Champion and Sherice Grant's book is, look at Daryl Champion's art work in this excerpt from the Xlibris web site.

As Dionne and Sherice talked with their students, they found that many of them had no concept of how African-American and African history related to their modern day lives. They came up with a way to teach this concept, not through memorizing dry facts, but as people have for generations-- through story telling and dance.

The result was The Spirit of the Baobab Tree, which began life as a stage production with characters based on a mixture of personalities of their own students. Now a story book, it tells the tale of a nine-year-old boy named Jelani who spends his time drawing magical places and beings in a sketchbook to escape from the realities of his life as a foster child. One day from out of the pages of his sketchbook a magical storyteller comes to life taking the boy on a journey of discovery with tales of his African and American ancestors.

The book is available through Xlibris or through Amazon.com.

If you're in the Gary area, you can see the Spirit of the Baobab Tree February 26-27 at the West Side High School Theater. Contact Dance Excel for more information on the production.