Brewer Middle School sixth-graders danced to the beat of, and played, djembe drums — a West African drum made of hardwood and rawhide — Friday morning during the school’s Artist-in-Residence Show n’ Share Program.
A Distinguished Arts Program Grant written by the entire ACTS fine arts department — Sheri Brewington, Amy Fennell, Ansley Keenan, Julia McClanahan and Shelby Lindler — and Brewer Middle art teacher Jane McClure led to funding from the state’s department of education which helped bring Borenya West African Drumming and Dance Group to Brewer Middle. The funds also went towards slab rollers and other art materials.
“We chose the Borenya West African Drumming and Dance Group so that we could have greater (and) deeper arts experiences across the entire school,” Sheri Brewington, Brewer Middle dance teacher and ACTS fine arts cluster leader, said.
Borenya taught the sixth-graders African dances and drumming in four 45 minute classes spread throughout four instructional days — Monday to Thursday. Darren Gilley, Borenya’s director, said the kids did fantastic performing considering the short amount of time they had to learn all the material.
The kids started off a little hesitant during the practices, but as they moved through the week their excitement built up, Gilley said.
"They did very good job for four days of practice, it’s not easy, but they did good," Adama Dembele, West African drumming and dance teacher, said. "Everybody seems very happy so that’s what is most important to me."
Brewington thought the program went well, and she particularly enjoyed seeing the kids’ faces whenever they were able to share with one another what they had learned through the course of the week.
“For them to be able to have someone come, teach them dance and then be able to share it was awesome,” she said.
McClure, Brewington and the ACTS fine arts teachers hope to continue to host the Artist-in-Residence Show n’ Share Program for several years to come.