SNOW CAMP, N.C. (WGHP) — There are drums, singing and lots of dance in African storytelling. The students at Sylvan Elementary School are learning all about it as part of the school’s Artists in Residency program.
“In African dance and drumming is a storyline,” said Gregory Ince of the Simar Center for Performing Arts. “And the story tells you what life is about in Africa and the ideals in a way people live. And so, in the dance, the dance shows the movement of what that’s about. The music lays the foundation, so that it’s a narrative, the dance and the drumming, along with the singing, tells the story.”
For five years, performers with Simar Center for Performing Arts have visited Sylvan, sharing cultural lessons in music and dance.
It is a favorite for Ince and the other performers.
“We absolutely love it,” he said. “The children are a true inspiration because they’re like little sponges. They soak up all the information so fast. Sometimes it’s amazing. ‘Cause we feel they can only learn but so much and they surprise us every time, and they do more and more and more.”
Sylvan is an A-plus arts school. According to Dance and Drama teacher Ginger Strickland, their lessons reflect that.
“We try to do a lot of things with the students in their classrooms, incorporating the arts. We have additional specials, dance and drama. And in addition to that, we want them to experience other cultures and other professional artists.”
The teachers love it because they say it’s like watching their children grow culturally right before their eyes.
According to music teacher Faith Hollifield, “They are on point. They are focused. They love it. They’re soaking up every moment of it.”
They take lessons each day for one week. On Friday, the students have the opportunity to perform for an audience.
“When they enter and they exit, they’re standing tall and they know at the end of the performance, they did a great job,” Hollifield said. “And then the younger students as well, they’ll have their teachers watching at the end of the class time. They’re drumming, they’re learning or they’re dancing. And so, they really are proud of themselves after learning it. And it’s great to watch.”
It’s something Ince says will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
“It’s very important, not just African culture, which is what we teach, but all cultures,” he said. “Everybody brings something to the table of value and importance. So everybody’s culture should be recognized equally.”
Strickland agrees. “Anytime that they can be exposed to a variety of things and learn and grow, it’s always going to help them to become better people.”
These are lessons not only learned, but experienced. If you would like more information about the Simar Center for Performing Arts, you can find it online at www.simar-scpa.com.