Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hook: Sand Animation, "Part 1," by Kseniya Simonova from "Ukraine's Got Talent"


A colleague emailed me the link to this YouTube video at school and and an artist friend emailed it to me at home. I had saved the first message to look at when I got a chance, but when I received the second message, I decided I needed to check it out right away. Am I ever glad I did! (Note: if the link becomes inactive, just do an internet search of "Kseniya Simonva Sand Animation," but make sure you find the one that begins with her lighting a candle.)
Many of you have probably seen this young artist, Kseniya Simonva's, moving and highly expressionistic tribute to the sacrifices of her countrymen during World War II. A fusion of visual art (drawings made in sand on a light table and projected in real-time onto a large screen), music and choreography, the performance is utterly captivating. Though a very few of my students had seen it, it didn't matter: they were instantly immersed in it again.
All of my students--even a few with "focus issues"--were riveted. I don't think it would be an exaggeration to say that they were transfixed. You could have heard a pin drop during the entire 8-minute performance in every one of my five classes. (Well, okay, one student with attention deficit issues in one class wasn't completely spell-bound, but...) At the conclusion, the silence lingered; it was almost as if they didn't want to break the spell.
And as much as I hated to be the one to do it, I wanted them to analyze and reflect while their memories were fresh. So, I posed the following four questions to be discussed as a group with answers recorded in their sketchbooks and then shared with the whole class. The depth of their insights--even those of some of my less academic students--was gratifying and heartwarming.
Questions for Small Group (by table) and Whole Class Discussion:
  1. What did you find to be the most powerful aspects of this performance?
  2. What roles did music play?
  3. What role did choreography play?
  4. What was the significance of the candle

I hope you'll consider incorporating this short video into your instruction. You won't be sorry.

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