The Bobcat Arts Coffeehouse at Glenn High
This post includes photos from the September coffeehouse.
By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
OCTOBER 15, 2020 – On the night of Thursday, Oct. 15, Glenn High students and their family members will be heading to a virtual coffeehouse for a night of music, dancing, art, spoken-word, and “walking in someone else’s shoes.”
When students started learning remotely back in March, the arts teachers at Glenn had to suspend their plans for in-person events. No plays. No dance performances. No music. No art shows. This school year, the teachers in the school’s arts department wanted to find a new platform to serve as a creative outlet for students.
So the arts teachers - Michaela Richards (theatre), Allison Dawkins (dance), Jonathan Miller (band), Carol Earnhardt (chorus), Erin Jones (visual art) created a Zoom coffeehouse to be held once a month.
For the first session of the Bobcat Arts Coffeehouse in September, students created videos and submitted them to their teachers, and Richards created a 90-minute production that everyone could enjoy while sipping coffee – or another coffeehouse beverage – at home.
“The first one we had 85 families within the Glenn community watching,” Richards said.
Although putting it all together was a lot of work, Richards said, the payoff of being able to connect with students, parents and others in the Glenn community made it all worth it.
“The one we had in September was the most normal I have felt since March,” Richards said.
She is looking forward to the October session of the coffeehouse, which begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.
“I love it,” she said. “I’m excited to have that feeling again.”
Each coffeehouse has a theme. For September, the theme was “Who Are You?” The theme for the October coffeehouse is “Walk a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes.”
For the first coffeehouse, Dawkins’ dance students created individual videos that they sent in and that ran separately. For this session, she had all of the students in her Honors Dance III and Honors Dance IV classes to work together to create a piece called “Dancing in Another Choreographer’s Shoes.”
About 30 students participated and Dawkins edited it all into a single piece about 3½ minutes long that runs the length of hip-hop group Run-DMC’s song “My Adidas.”
Dawkins gave students a two-part assignment. One was to choose the shoes they felt most comfortable in and to choreograph a dance inspired by those shoes. In keeping with the limitations of dancing virtually in front of a computer camera, she had students perform while seated.
All of the students in Dance III and IV are young women. Some chose studio dance shoes from dance classes they take outside of school. Others chose dress shoes, furry books, high heels or sandals.
For the second part, students considered shoes that would normally wear – shoes that made them feel weird or uncomfortable – and choreograph a dance based on that.
“For the rest of the dance, you are putting on other people’s shoes,” Dawkins said.
The students then taught their choreography to each other.
Creating a single video for the coffeehouse out of the videos that students sent in took several hours. Like Richards, Dawkins found the work totally worthwhile.
“I’m excited,” Dawkins said. “It’s going to give the dancers the chance to feel some kind of normal.”
Her No. 1 goal with the project was to give her students the opportunity to perform and to be creative, and she was glad to be able to do that.
“The second thing was to have empathy for what other students might be going through,” she said.
Dawkins, who is in her ninth year teaching at Glenn, graduated from East Forsyth in 2008 and then headed to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She and her husband, Josh, met in band class at Kernersville Middle and started dating at East Forsyth.
Today, they have a 10-month-old son named Axle.
Other performances that will be part of the October coffeehouse include:
This October Coffee house will include:
Austin Novakovich reciting a poem he wrote
Jackson Dillow Reciting a monologue written by Lindsay Price
Kamden Parkin doing a swing dance to “Sugar Honey Iced Tea”
Abigail Brown singing the song “Reflection” from Mulan
Samantha Mendez singing the song “The Climb”
Joseph Riggleman speaking about his artwork
Mason Thompson singing the song “Wake up”
Anna Underwood and Samantha Craddock singing a duet
While professional sports such as the NFL and NBA are back to some extent, Broadway and other theaters are still shut down, Richards said. So it’s nice to be able to offer some form of outlet for students interested in theater.
Richards is in her sixth year teaching at Glenn.
“I love these kids,” she said. “I love this school.”
“I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love teaching theatre.”
With a play or musical, Richards said, you say, “Here’s the musical we’re doing. Let’s rehearse it.”
With the coffeehouse, students have the opportunity to be creative in different ways.
“I think giving the students less parameters has been a positive,” she said.
Richards has been impressed by the students’ creativity, and the coffeehouses have been such a positive experience for everyone that Richards can imagine continuing to have them after students return to school.
And she has appreciated working with all the teachers in the arts department in this way.
“Our arts department is very interconnected,” Richards said.
336.727.2696 ext. 70114