Since April 2020, and in the midst of a global pandemic, our Teaching Artists at the Workshop have continued to engage with students across the Bay Area through remote online learning. One of our Teaching Artists, Chinchin Hsu, recently introduced students at Balboa High School to elements of composition in visual art and dance.

In a Zoom classroom setting last December, Chinchin invited students to create a still-life drawing for their final project for the Fall semester. They could choose any object as the subject of their piece, it just had to relate to the broader topic of their final project. This exercise allowed students to learn how objects relate to the space around them, and how they translate everyday objects to carry varying meanings, focuses, and messages.. 

The students then were invited to reflect on why they chose the objects they did, and to explain to the rest of the class what main focus they were trying to convey in their drawings. This led to a lesson to build their composition-related vocabularies with concepts like “main focus,” “foreground,” “background,” and “middleground,” as well as how these concepts can also be applied in dance form. 

Then, in an exciting class activity, Chinchin led the students through a series of dynamic problem-solving exercises through their video conferencing platform. Playing with the concept of zooming in and out of the camera, Chinchin asked students to move their bodies closer and further from their device cameras, playing with the visibility of their bodies and gestures. Students were then prompted to thread together shapes, movements, and repetitive gestures into a phrase in dance form, ultimately giving students the opportunity to experiment with space as they move their bodies in and out of the camera. 

Chinchin’s class activity satisfied students’ craving for interactivity amidst their rigorous, often stiff, all-day Zoom classes. These kinds of dynamic classes and activities spark new ways to address students’ needs for interactive and engaging arts education. We are looking forward to continuing to discover new ways we can engage students in interactive activities in the spring semester!