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Monday, June 07, 2010

Blue Corn Grinding

Ana's School had a fantastic program last week, just for parents. Children worked hard and were quite thrilled to share their presentation with us. The three classes came up with a production each, in their own unique way.

One of the classes, with slightly older kids, managed to learn about Brainstorming, Storyboard, Characters, Costume-making and related aspects hands-on, which culminated in an original story being acted out for us in full splendor. Their teacher did a fantastic job, and it was clear the kids took pride and ownership in their presentation. It was a simple story set on the beach, with turtle, crab, whale, palm trees...

Another class taught us about The Water Cycle bringing to life the Rivers, Clouds, Sun and other entities, in their charming way. I was awe-struck at the children's enthusiasm and energy, which clearly reflected their teacher's.

Ana's class told us the tradition of Blue Corn Grinding by the Hopi Indian via a beautiful song with dramatic interludes. The farmers plant the blue corn, the sun blazes down, everything is dry; then come the rain showers making the corn plants grow green and tall; and finally the little ears of corn with their tassels waving above are ready to be harvested; the corn is then ground in a traditional mano and matate.

Much like the Ammikkal and Kuzhavi I grew up with, a matate (muh-taa-tay, as best as I can gather) is a large, usually flat, stone on which the corn/grains is placed. A mano is a smaller stone or rock which is rolled over the matate to break down the grains into a powder.

The Blue Corn Grinding Song evokes such wonderful feelings, it is hard to describe. And I admire her teacher for helping the students learn about the tradition, appreciate the song, and play the parts they felt comfortable with, to tell us the story.

The audio clip is not of the best quality. What with joy-filled parents murmuring their awe and restless little siblings calling out their names, the kids on stage probably felt overwhelmed. But here is a short clip anyway:

Ana was one of the 3 corn plants. Her role was to just lay down in prostrate position till swallows bring the rain clouds (played by Ana's spunky little friends), "Swallow tells glad news, bringing dark rain clouds"; then, slowly stand up tall as the plant grows when the song says "Green and tall the corn grows, green and tall the corn stands". Ana was in her own world, waving and dancing, pretending being a corn plant. And, her costume was terribly simple, as the idea was to hint at, rather than create a true likeness of a corn plant.

(Cropped and isolated Blue Corn Plant Ana)

As always, I was very impressed with Ana's teacher. She is a talented musician, a Montessori student taught by her Montessori mom, always enthusiastic about sharing the Montessori materials in her class with us. The Blue Corn Grinding Song is rare and precious and am so thrilled she brought it to us so beautifully that day with her children - especially since it has a special place in her heart as it was taught to her when she was little by her mother.

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At 11:36 AM, Blogger ChoxBox said...

ana is blessed to have such a fab teacher!


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