Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tap in, Turn up with the Chicago Sinfonietta

Chicago Sinfonietta Tap In. Turn Up.
Photo via Chicago Sinfonietta
This is a guest post by my husband. We were invited to this performance as media guests. The Chicago Sinfonietta took a back seat  on a recent Monday night at Symphony Center for Tap In. Turn Up., an incongruous blend of dance and symphonic music. With the orchestra visible on stage, two Flamenco dancers and a tap dancer distracted us from the swaying of the violin bows and the flapping of the conductor’s baton.

First, Wendy Clinard performed a sinuous flamenco to Roberto Sierra's Fandangos, her pink-sleeved arms elegantly posing like twin flamingos to the lull of the music.

Similarly, tap dancer Cartier Williams crept onto the stage, arms writhing in ballet-like poses to the slow segment of Stravinsky’s Firebird. I was unclear if he was poking fun at ballet or just passing time until the vibrant parts of the piece.

Soon the tempo picked up and Williams was clacking feverishly across the stage, his ankles a blur as he machine-gunned multiple beats beyond the orchestra’s ability to keep up. I don’t know that the tapping enhanced the music, but it was certainly more fun to watch.

Williams was all energy and rhythm until finally, he threw himself off the stage. It almost looked like a mistake, but it was pure performance. He slowly tapped his way across the first row, up the stairs to the stage and back behind the conductor’s podium as he concluded the finale segment to a standing ovation.

Instead of taking a nap, which I would have done after all that dancing, Williams joined Clinard and Flamenco dancer, Marisela Taples, for a tap/Flamenco hybrid dance to Alexander Borodin’s Prince Igor. Although Clinard and Taples employed a green shawl as a prop, their movements didn't seem to tell a story and their interactions with the tapper didn't bring out the most interesting elements of each genre. But the tapping was fun.

At intermission we took a communal tap-dancing lesson thanks to the Chicago Human Rhythm Project and then the Sinfonietta finished with Rimsky-Korsakov's dance-free Scheherazade.

Although this was more familiar than the earlier tunes (and as much as I like classical music), I was primed for something more visually appealing to keep me at the edge of my seat. Although I was awake the whole time, my step- and sleep-tracking watch claims I slept through the last 33 minutes of the performance. But I swear I didn’t.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The 2016 Coca-Cola Scholars Award and Other Scholarships

As a high school senior I remember poring over thick reference books at the library in an attempt to find scholarship opportunities. In the end, the winning formula was the advice that's still dished out by my son's school college counselor applied: Think Local. I was awarded money from the PTA and the Rotary Club. And at the end of freshman year of college, I earned a scholarship from my university that brought my tuition costs down to a pittance for sophomore and junior yeas of school.

If your child is on the hunt for money to help cover the costs of college, see what your local civic clubs and parent organizations have to offer and encourage your child apply for those scholarships. Apparently, these smaller scholarships are often left behind as masses of students put their energy into applying for national scholarships. I know, in the scheme of college costs, a $200 scholarship is a drop in the bucket, but it will still take a dent out of book fees, activity fees, dorm fees, technology fees or whatever other fees a university can dream up. So encourage your child to pursue those.

Of course, there's no need to hunker down over big old books anymore. These days, all it takes is a Google search to follow the (potential) money. Along those lines, FastWeb has been recommended as a go-to source for scholarship information.

And don't forget the the schools themselves. There are many opportunities for merit scholarships for high-achieving students. But be mindful that college applications are often due by November 1 in order for students to be considered for merit scholarships. Merit scholarships are often granted for things like achieving a certain ACT/SAT score or a class rank. Easy peasy money if your child fits the bill, but your student's application must be turned in promptly, often months before the official college application deadline.

There's a reason that students are attracted to the big-name scholarships: money. Take, for example, this scholarship from Coca-Cola Foundation. I caught wind of it after a Twitter chat last year and asked them to remind me when it as open for applications. Which is to say, this is not a sponsored post, but info I think is worth sharing. You can bet I shared it with my high school senior!

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation grants 150 high school seniors a $20,00 scholarship. Nice, right?

But what is even better about this scholarship is that its value extends beyond the financial reward. Along with that generous amount of money, the honorees are invited to Coca Cola Scholars Retreat, a program that brings the winners together for a few days of fun, networking and leadership training. What an amazing network to be a part of.

This year’s Coca-Cola scholarship application is now available online at Coca-Cola Scholars. They are looking for "150 high school seniors who are socially-conscious and servant-minded leaders. Coca-Cola believes in investing in students who are leaders, both academically and in service to others."

The application process is completed online, but involves a lengthy questionnaire, so don't delay. The application for the 2016 Coke Scholars is October 31, 2015, so don't delay!