September 25, 2015
Eight-year-old Chloe laughed in delight as she watched the image she created on the screen. She moved her arm in a graceful arch and was rewarded with a larger-than-life mirror image of the movement. A little later, she and three friends danced in a circle and were amazed when their actions were projected upside down. “That is so cool,” Chloe said. “It’s like a video game.
The Double Take dance and video project is just one example of the wonderful art opportunities the children at the YWCA Central Alabama have been able to enjoy, thanks to a partnership with Bare Hands, Inc. Over the past five years, Julie Watters has brought in a variety of artists to introduce the children to cultural experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have had the chance to explore.
“One way to make sure something that’s really important doesn’t fade out is to introduce it to the next generation,” Watters said. That’s why she brings dancers and printmakers, sculptors and painters to share their talents with the students.
Mary Foshee, who recently retired from Children’s Dance Foundation, worked with the students on dance composition and how to use their bodies to speak. Computer artist and engineer Jean Jacques Gaudell used a video camera and computer program to manipulate the images and take the art to a new level.
“Kids are so into video games and virtual reality, so we’re merging the virtual and reality,” Watters said. “Basically, it’s a digital artwork that coordinates with their movements.”
Delyne Hicks, senior director of child development services, said the students loved participating in the video and dance project. “Our children are so tech savvy, and this gave them the opportunity to get behind the scenes of their favorite video game and see how it was created. Some of our older students really thought this might be something they would want to do, and it opened the door for them to realize what’s possible.”
Watters said she loves connecting artists like Foshee and Gaudell with the children and providing them with opportunities to learn and grow. “I was the daughter of a single mother during my early childhood, and I know what it’s like to be in a lower income bracket,” she said. “I also know how far you can go. Having access to people in the community who are willing to teach you and to give you a chance makes all the difference in the world.”