Broadway lyricist and author Dan Elish visited The Albany Academies to work with students. Students worked together writing song lyrics, screenplays and scripts, while dance students crafted the Narcissus and Echo Ballet, set to an original score.
continued Alexandra Iankouska, a ninth-grader, wrote a play and music score and also stars in it. 10th-grader George Miller worked with Cummings to compose music for what turned into a 20-minute ballet. Josh Long has been working to add another musical element to the production.
“I’ve been trying to convey the notion of metamorphosis and change through percussion, which I think you can do in a multitude of ways with different instruments because there’s just so many options you can add,” said Long, an 11th-grader.
Alicia Barber is a dancer, who also lent her writing skills to the show.
“I worked on writing lines that we then translated into Latin that have been transformed into the movement of dance,” said Barber, in 11th grade. “I’m also in the dance and we’ve been working on using the lines in the music to choreograph dance and incorporate acting.”
Cummings said he’s been consistently impressed by his students throughout the performance’s evolution and the final product is something he’s proud to show off.
“The thing that I like the most, just as a teacher to be able to create an opportunity for a lot of different voices to come together,” said Cummings. “I don’t think it’s normal for any school to do this kind of thing. At any point we could have pulled the plug but when something falls out, something else pops up.”
The creative and educational opportunity to develop “Meditations on Metamorphosis” was invaluable, but students said there was one more lesson learned that was perhaps the most important.
“Starting this, I don’t think a lot of us knew the different talents we all had, so I think the community will also be surprised with what the kids here have,” said DiSanto.
Iankouska said it’s “cool that there’s so many people who have so many strong points in the arts” and that they all will have the chance to showcase their talents.