What motivated the 17-year old professional soccer player Rafik Zargaryan, who is interested in programming and economics, to engage in the Performing Arts Program? His answer is more than clear: “The Performing Arts Program at the COAF SMART Center is a unique way to train the mind, to develop the imagination and work on our speech skills. I like the mixture of different disciplines like music, theater and special exercises for fast-thinking.”
Ruben, a brave, friendly young man is very enthusiastic about all the exercises and tasks even if his pairs feel uncomfortable to complete the task. Let’s imagine a situation where participants form a circle, not seeing each other. The instructor asks them to describe in detail one of their friends in the room – the clothes and accessories they are wearing, the colors. Then all the kids turn around and see each other. Here they realize what was wrong with their description, what they have missed. This activity aims at developing the skill of being attentive and focusing on details.
The Performing Arts Program is one of the 6 programs in the HEART dimension of the SMART citizenship curriculum. The program starts with getting to know each other and revealing expectations from the program. Here all the attendees come to the conclusion that Performing Arts is not only about the theater, it starts with words and gestures, with the ability to express one’s feelings and thoughts.
Ani Gevorgyan, a theater actor and director, is the Performing Arts Program Instructor who joined the COAF team in September, 2019. Working with children wasn’t new for this young professional with an active and dynamic lifestyle, she knows them inside out.
“When joining the COAF SMART team I had two challenges to overcome – to stay at the same venue as a full-time employee and to become computer savvy to develop my curriculum digitally. I have overcome these challenges and enjoy my work”,- Ani mentions with a smile.
Ani works with two groups of children aged 6 to 11 and 12 to 18, with a total of 15 participants. The graduation program of a 3-month program varies from group to group, depending on their dynamic and interests, it can be a rhetoric or plastic solution or a musical performance.
When COVID-19 made us all work and study remotely, some of the group participants had to leave mainly because of the lack of the internet access. But that was not the only challenge․ The instructors had to reshape the program, excluding face to face exercises but still remaining interesting, dynamic and meaningful.
So the professionals at COAF SMART Center had a great solution. They started to watch a lot of theater performances online, learn about the history and structure of theater and to discover the key players at the theater- actors, directors, prompter, backstage workers.
“We are repeating many tongue twisters. This helps all the participants with the tension of the inner jaw, to overcome any difficulties and develop their speech expressiveness. We continue to exercise our visual and imaginative memory, to create and rediscover ourselves,” says Ani.
Most of the children have never been to any theater. So when there was a chance last year for the participants to visit the Dramatic Theater in Vanadzor, the capital city of the Lori region, kids took a tour of the entire theater – stage, backstage, costume rooms, decorations. And when the management of the theater offered the children to go on the real stage and to present a piece of their performance, the instructor was really surprised at how quickly all the children agreed to go on the stage.
Astonished with the self-confidence of once-shy children, Ani Gevorgyan believes: “Performing arts is the harmony of soul, mind and body. Only with the full unity of these three you will make the audience believe you while being on the stage.”