2002-06-15 / Columnists

On The Beach… With Beverly Baxter Seaside Kids, Doin’ It Right!

On The Beach… With Beverly Baxter
Seaside Kids, Doin’ It Right!

Ya gotta have ART! Lots and lots and lots of art! That was the theme of last weekend's Art Frenzy event on the fairgrounds at Fort Tilden. I attended both days and came away uplifted, inspired, and very proud and grateful to live in such a beautiful seaside setting that could inspire and create the Art that I experienced. There was something for everyone! Whether you purchased one of watercolorist Arlene Cornell's paintings or a gorgeous piece of pottery by Susan Locke or any of the many other vendors; or you simply soaked up the sun and sea air, you were swept away and awed by the myriad of talent that lives among us.

There was live theatre presented by the Rockaway Theatre Company who showcased a compilation of scenes and musical vignettes from many of their performances including the popular Rockaway Cafe, the skit Who's On First", and a hilarious number called D.W. Washburn featuring brilliant artistic director John Gilleece and the R.T.C. players. There was also a most avant garde Modern Dance troupe that performed on the lawn by the Rockaway Artist Alliance Moonstage, as well as the incredible choreography of Ellen Connelly and the Connelly Dancers who performed to the songs, "Revolution", "My Country T'is of Thee", and "Bandstand". Auditions were also held at the Post Theatre for the thespian in all of us. Many of the artist's offered face painting for the kids and there was also a children's art display.....However, there was one group of kids who were...."Just Perfect"!

Just as the sun was beating down on me, and I was about to get on my bike to ride along the ocean to go home, several students from P.S. 225 were introduced and they began recitation of poetry that was totally original. It stopped me! I was completely drawn in to their piece called, "My Life". The rhythm of their speech was punctuated by the timed bounce of a simple basketball that was passed to each one who spoke. Their words articulated their hopes, dreams, questions, and fears. The depth of feeling and perceptions were both stunning and jolting. With no elaborate set at all, and merely wearing sweats and blue tee shirts, these kids dove deep into a place within themselves that was utterly raw and true. A place where poetry is alive. The ensemble were joined by the P.S. 225 Seaside Orchestra conducted by musical director Aminah Majiied who also choreographed an inspiring song called, "Just Perfect" written and composed by talented student Delilah Griffith.

The students also performed an original piece about love and what it means. The female students then went into what I can only describe as poetry in motion with a street-dance piece called, "Broadway". Using merely the beat of their feet and the clapping of their hands, they expressed complete synchronicity! Seaside girls, they've got the beat!
  According to Art Literacy Teacher Fran Honan, whose introduction was provided to me by the wonderful Mary Dever, "Since 911, the students have had a profound need to express through poetry, music, and dance what they may otherwise be unable to express in ordinary conversation. With the encouragement and artistic guidance of their sixth grade Teacher Sharon Bien and their Principal Matthew Melchiorre, they have found a much needed outlet for their expression." The students have marched in our many local parades, even winning most recently the Best Youth Group Band Award in this year's James Conway Sullivan Memorial Saint Patrick's Day Parade. All I can say, coming away from this performance of the day, is...Seaside kids are doin' it right!

There are so many exciting events planned by the artists in our community. The Rockaway Artists Alliance will sponsor their continuation of Movies By Moonlight on the great lawn at Fort Tilden. On Friday June 21st at 8:45pm it's the Billy Wilder classic comedy, "Some Like It Hot," and on Saturday June 22nd they will present "The Wizard of Oz." So...bring the kids, bring a blanket or beach chair and bring yourself to an evening of great cinema under the stars!

RAA has also found a creative use for the Riis Landing barge where they will also present movies. So...bring your boat and enjoy these wonderful summer evenings. Currently showing at the RAA Gallery is an exhibit called, "Remembrance", a compilation of photography, paintings, and sculpture reflecting upon the WTC attack.

For all of you Thespians, the Rockaway Theatre Company is currently in production of "Lend Me A Tenor." Also in production is their annual USO Show on July 4th, as well as "Pajama Game" and other comedies...all at the Post Theatre.

The Rockaway Music and Arts Council will present their annual Sunset Concert Series held on Sundays at 6pm. From June 30th through August 25th, they will present Folk icon Oscar Brand, Cherish the Ladies, Legends of Rock and Roll, Enrique Lopez, The Long Island Pops, Rudy Bishops Steel Drum Symphony Orchestra, and A Tribute to Frank Sinatra.

With all of the national and international sporting events that took place last weekend, the artists still drew an impressive crowd, proof that Rockaway...is doin' it right!

See you...On the Beach!

Students from PS 225 perform at last weekend’s Art Frenzy.     

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