Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Meet WT: April Studio Week TA

 New Vic Studio Week is just around the corner...the perfect outlet for rambunctious energy from a vacationing elementary schooler (if we do say so ourselves). It is also is five full days of team taught circus skills, juggling, giggling -even the diabolo!- by our professional New Vic Teaching Artists. Our TAs are artists and educators, and the best at what they do in the entire city (really, they are). They have a deep commitment to their craft and to working with young people. Basically, New Vic TA + New Vic Studio = an incredibly amazing, absolutely fantastic experience.

Meet WT McRae, one half of the dynamic duo leading the April Studio Week. WT grew up in New Mexico and Colorado, and now performs with five different school shows in addition to being a New Vic Teaching Artist.

New Vic: Why did you choose to teach in addition to working as an artist?
WT: I love working with young people, and enjoy the opportunity to show them the joy I find in creating art. 

WT with students
New Vic: What has been your most memorable moment as an artist?
WT: I guess it would be a collection of moments. Watching an audience of children roar with laughter is the kind of feeling that keeps me floating for months. When I have a good season I can find myself in front of 500-2500 children laughing like this a week. It's amazing!

New Vic: What has been your most memorable moment as a teaching artist or educator?
WT: There are so many. The moments that stick with me the most are the times when students I work with believed that they were unable to achieve the skill that they were being taught, and found the perseverance to learn it anyway. I live to see the light-bulb go on in their brains.

New Vic: Have you traveled anywhere for your work in arts or arts education?
WT: My work in arts education has taken me as far as Alaska and Costa Rica. I teach and perform in Alaska every year, and this year will also teach in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey.

New Vic: What is your take on the proposed arts funding cuts?
WT: I think that educating a young person is an expensive proposition, and that there are very difficult choices at hand when choosing how to shape that education. I personally believe that the arts is as important to the work of making good citizens and competent adults as is math or reading. I also believe that the arts will always find a way.

New Vic: Why is it that much more important to teach arts education?
WT: The world we are preparing our students for is rapidly changing, and creative thinking is essential to adapt your natural skills to a changing world. Even if you are a brilliant physicist, it is your ability to see a new way to use that skill that will guarantee your longevity. The arts are the only disciplines that offer a learning system for that kind of creative thought.
Photo: Alexis Buatti Ramos
New Vic: Why are you excited for the upcoming Studio Week?
WT: This will be a first opportunity to teach this much with Lauren. We have a lot of comedic enthusiasm together and I feel like we will have fun with each other and the kids. I'm also looking forward to the partner acrobatics we will be doing. It's so fun to build pyramids and group balance and watch kids do incredible things without equipment.

New Vic: What’s special about teaching for the New Vic?
WT: The New Victory is one of the best places to teach! One of the best things about it is the amazing collection of artists and educators that come together around all of The New Victory programs. There is not a teaching artist or staff member that does not have an amazing ability to teach combined with a very strong creative talent. Because of this the students benefit from so many different learning perspectives. Many times I have had the opportunity to see someone teach a skill that I have taught many times before, and learn an entirely new approach that is much more successful for some students.

New Vic: What’s one secret, special or “hidden” thing you love about New York?
WT: I love to ride my bicycle to Roosevelt Island and see the amazing views of the Manhattan skyline. I also love to go to Wave Hill in the Bronx where you can tour the gardens and enjoy breathtaking views of the Palisades.

There are still spots in the April Studio Week program! A chance in a lifetime to learn and play with WT McRae. Read more about Studio Week here. Buy tickets for it here. Want to know what other kids say? Check out their end-of-week circus haikus from last summer here.

Stay tuned for an interview with his co-teaching artist, Lauren Sharpe, next week!

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