Detroit Performs


Best of Season 9

In this best of season nine episode of Detroit Performs: Mariners Inn utilizes art as part of the therapies to help heal residents at the treatment center for substance abuse and homelessness; Ballet Edge Detroit is a professional ballet company with a twist; and Cass Tech High School's Harp and Vocal Program shows why it's been around for over 90 years!

Episode 913

AIRED: November 19, 2019 | 0:27:00

- [DJ Oliver] In this episode of Detroit Performs,

a treatment center for substance abuse and homelessness

utilize the arts to heal.

A Detroit ballet company with a twist.

And, a Detroit public school's historic music program.

It's all ahead on this edition of Detroit Performs.

- [Announcer] Funding for Detroit Performs is provided by

the Fred A. And Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation,

the Kresge Foundation,

the A. Paul and Carol C. Schaap Foundation,

the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs,

the National Endowment for the Arts,

the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation,

and by contributions to your PBS station

from viewers like you.

Thank you.

(upbeat jazz music)

- It has been another phenomenal season at Detroit Performs,

and today we're throwing it back to some of

my favorite artists, programs and venues

we featured this season.

(upbeat jazz music)

Let's head a few blocks away to Mariners Inn,

where they use alternative therapies

rooted in creativity to alleviate the problems

of homelessness and substance abuse.

(slow melodic music)

- I was in a dark place, and as I was coming here

I could see a little light.

- We know people have problems, they need help,

so this is a place where they could come.

We need places like this.

- This place always shows me how common we all are,

regardless of age, race, background, where you grew up.

It just shows you the connections

we all have as human beings.

- I see the guys that come through here

as people who've just been through a lot in life.

They've been through an incredible about of trauma,

who haven't had the coping skills

to deal with it effectively.

- [Lloyd] This is the kinda atmosphere

that I wanted to be in, because they treated me

like with dignity and respect.

- [Karianne] Mariners Inn helps men who are

dealing with homelessness and substance abuse.

This is a treatment center and shelter,

so they seek therapy.

So a lot of times words can't express what

they're going through, especially with trauma.

So the art gives them a way to express

what they've gone through.

- Art therapy is so important because it's a way

to reconnect with the self.

We believe here at Mariners Inn

that drug use and alcohol use is just

a side effect of the larger problem.

We believe that the larger problem is disconnection.

And so through art therapy, through that form of expression,

so much can come out.

- Well I had a drug problem, I had an addiction,

and I was homeless and I seen myself going down.

But I had a second chance to get myself together.

That's why I came here.

- I've had a problem with addiction to drugs for a while

and it's caused problems in my life.

I know I wanna change, but that change is difficult,

but I came to Mariners because I wanted help.

- Trying something new and exposing them

to the arts and art therapies is a risk,

and it's a way to show them like hey,

certain risks are good.

And they have awesome pay out.

- Lloyd is very sweet and he's used this

creative process to really move through

what he needed to get through.

- I love art therapy because I've been masking masks,

I've been making belts,

I've been making me little bracelets.

It's a lot of things you can do down there.

The music she plays and the fragrance that's be going on,

it just soothes you and it puts you in a different place.

- [Karianne] You can see how they use the art media

to express what they're going through.

So I can use different art media to help

push them in different directions

as far as learning more about themselves.

We did a painting all about recovery,

so they write down a word or phrase

that is helpful to them.

And then we did water color over top.

So that media is very fluid.

So, it kinda helps them to let go

of needing to control something.

- It's not just about doing art either.

They come together and talk about

what's going on in their lives too

and how it relates to the art that they're doing.

- So when Ryan first got here he was really

reserved and he really thrives in the art room.

He's really good at using the art media

to express what he's going through emotionally.

I always want them to leave here

and know this is something that they can

do on their own to give them a way

to move through their conflict.

- Remember who you are, don't slip back into senility.

Move forward in the race, pace yourself,

speed and agility.

Carry yourself with honor and some sort of civility.

- [Brittany] Everyone has a story,

especially our clients, that they want to tell.

And so poetry is an excellent way

to get your story out, to establish a voice,

to reconnect with your voice.

- You gotta speak things into existence.

So, when I write, I try to write

the most positive thing that I can.

- [Joel] We meet in the library, we talk about our days.

We just kind of soak up how we're feeling at the moment.

This is like my break from my mind and my little stuff

that I think is so important.

Stuff that gets me down.

I come here and kick it with bros,

we all have different experiences

and it puts mine in perspective.

Like you know, just appreciation of being alive.

The best poetry is honest, so this is a place that

demands that you be honest about your life,

so you can come out of here as a better person.

- I refuse to let go of my addiction all together.

I need some motivation, to my heart will I tether.

- [Joel] Guys are just sharing about regret,

about love, about life, about authenticity,

which I think was the theme today,

which I really felt was just telling your own story

and not judging someone else's.

- Mind trips in different ways, am I coming or going?

I got a whole boost of energy when you tell me you love me.

- They spent the time expressing themselves,

getting proficient, and they learn how to do it,

and they did it and they executed it

and they knocked it out.

I think that's beautiful.

(drums pounding)

- The drum circle is really cool.

Something different.

And it teaches you kind of like focus and concentration.

- It's all about harmony, balance, connection,

connecting with a rhythm.

(drums pounding)

Our clients are so diverse,

they come from all walks of life.

And so that drum circle is a way to bring

everybody together and connect with a pulse.

- The drum is also a healing piece.

Here we wanted to really reach into the gentleman's soul

and give them some positive energy to do this.

But it's important for them to understand

that they are important no matter what

they have been through.

So we try to push from the drumming aspect

as positive energy in their lives.

(drums pounding)

- You kinda gotta step back and realize

it's a kind of a team thing and it sounds good

when everybody's playing together and on the same page.

(drums pounding)

- [Brittany] What I see in in terms of their growth,

is that they really tend to be much more

confident in themselves.

A lot of times they've just been focused

on the negative part of themselves

and all the mistakes that they made.

And then they realize through connecting with

the arts that they have this amazing creative side

where they're able to create this beauty.

And so, it's like there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

- If you don't see humanity in someone else,

you look at someone else, oh they're begging.

And we turn our noses up and we keep walking.

But this is a person, this is a human being

with a really valid real experience in life.

And this place reinforced the fact that

these are human beings, these are men just like me.

And it's really important that we all learn

and learn from each other and learn to love

each other in a proper way.

- I'm thinking clearer.

I know I have a lot of responsibilities.

It's not an end to this.

It's something that I have to continue.

- The staff and the other residents here

have empowered me to think about what I want in my life

and the things that I'm good at and talented at.

- They have so much hope and I love that.

They've taught me a lot about just staying strong

and that it's possible to completely change your life.

- Well, I hope by them seeing me,

I can influence and let 'em know that

you can stand up and be somebody.

- Recovery is real and it begins at Mariners Inn.

(upbeat jazz music)

- Ballet Edge Detroit is dedicated to

bringing ballet to mainstream audiences,

by mixing their classically trained technique

with some edgy uptempo beats.

Check it out.

(upbeat music)

- Ballet is not just an activity or a hobby,

it's a lifestyle.

I've always loved movement since I was a child.

I was actually more of a late bloomer

when it came to ballet.

I started around the time of 13 years old.

But I loved it since.

- Ballet is something I have done my entire life.

It's just been this passion inside me,

and I've always kind of wanted to get back to it.

So a few years ago, I got back into ballet.

- When I first moved to Detroit,

I felt like I really needed to find my passion

and establish more of an identity for myself.

So I went back to taking dance classes,

and I realized how much I missed it,

and that's how I started meeting these

wonderful dancers in class.

- Meeting Angel, really just the passion for ballet

that we both had was our instant connection.

And again we didn't really see

any ballet companies in Detroit.

Most larger cities do have ballet companies,

and we thought that this would be a great chance

to really try to bring that ballet, that art,

back to the city.

- And we decided to start working together

after class and learning choreography together,

and performances started popping up for us,

so that's how Ballet Edge started.

- [Erica] All of dance just brings

a different connection to people.

It's something that's expressive,

and people can come and just step away from

all of what's going on in the world,

and just come and watch something entertaining

and something fun.

- Our mission is to bring a bold

and innovative twist to ballet

through using our trained classical technique

but putting more of a a relatable,

modern twist on it so that all audience members

can relate to our choreography.

- We're really trying to bring a new

refreshing outlook on ballet to Detroit.

Our name is Ballet Edge Detroit,

so we try to be edgy and different,

and we kind of try to break the mold

of what people typically think of classical ballet,

that it's just tutus and classical music.

We really try to bring something fun and unique

so that everyone will enjoy it.

- We're trying to attract all people to our performances,

not just people who are really familiar with ballet.

So in order to attract all of Detroit,

we need to have dancers that each audience member

can relate to.

So maybe an audience member will say,

"Oh, I can relate to that mom,

"I can't believe she's dancing out there still.

"She's got kids, but she's still holding onto her passion."

- I think that it's very important,

especially as women and for those of us who are mothers.

A lot of times we put ourselves and our passions

and our dreams and what drives us,

we put those on the back burner to be

there for our families, so it's great to kind of

reclaim some of that and kind of remember who you are.

Everybody just comes from different walks of life

and everyone has their own little back story

before they come to Ballet Edge.

I'm a huge advocate for following your dreams

regardless of where you are, age or stage in life.

- I think one of the things that makes us different

and perhaps mature is that many of our dancers

have done other things in their life,

such as work or gone to college.

And those experiences make us very comfortable

with who we are and made us realize how much

we love dance and make us come back to dance.

So we are experiencing the best of both worlds.

- I think it's so cool to go to my job

and people are like, "Oh, what are you doing this weekend?"

And I'm like, "Oh, I've got a five hour ballet rehearsal."

And they're like, "Wow, that's so amazing."

And it is amazing.

But I think it's inspirational

because now other people can see they can do that too.

Not only with dance, but whatever your thing is,

you're never too old or too busy.

The situation is never too chaotic

for you to remember who you are.

- [Angel] This group of women is incredible.

They show their personality.

Whatever the musicality or the artistry calls for,

whether it be sad, happy, serious, exciting.

They can do it.

And you'll be able to see that in

all of the pieces that we showcase.

- We're gonna be getting ready for our show.

We've got some large group pieces,

we've got some small group pieces,

and we're gonna be cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.

We just finished learning all of the choreography.

So now we make sure everyone's looking the same way

and everyone's arm is the same way.

So it's gonna be kind of a wide range of things.

- [Erica] Angel Lavery does all the choreographing.

She's really open to listening to everyone

and making sure that we all feel comfortable

in the dance because, you know,

that's how we're gonna be the best that we can be,

is if we're all comfortable with what we're doing.

- Angel is a great choreographer.

I think she has really interesting ideas

when it comes to choosing music.

- I pick out the music first.

I listen to the music over and over, and over again.

And I see the choreography in my mind,

and that's how I choreograph.

We try to portray what the music is trying to tell.

So for example, we do a piece called Embrace,

which is to Vivaldi's Winter.

And that is more about friendship

and our relationship together as a company.

We all get along and we truly embrace each other's presence.

We've done a piece to Game of Thrones,

and that's really to portray the theme

of that wildly popular show.

It's very serious.

It's about battling and trying to be in power.

We have a piece currently to Beethoven's Fur Elise,

and these are all songs that the majority

of people will recognize.

And they get drawn in, they get hooked in

and they end up enjoying the pieces.

- [Erica] Ballet is very challenging.

It requires a lot of discipline.

We've all been training for 15 plus years.

- [Angel] We are all top professionals

and we work really hard.

Ballet dancers have great stamina.

They have great flexibility.

They have the discipline to come to class,

to stay in shape.

- And I think that the talent that's in

Ballet Edge is just phenomenal.

It's unbelievable, honestly, to me to know that

there are so many talented, amazingly talented dancers

that are right here in the city.

- Typically when people see a ballet company in Detroit,

it's a ballet company that passes through

Detroit and leaves, and we are making ballet

accessible to Detroit neighborhoods.

We keep our pricing affordable for everybody to come see us.

We are homegrown and we're proud to be Detroit.

- I'm so grateful for Ballet Edge.

I think that it's so great for so many

different women to be able to come together

in the name of ballet and put together

something so professional and something so unique

and something so entertaining.

- Longterm goals for Ballet Edge Detroit

is really just to continue growing the ballet company.

We would love to have more dancers

and really be able to put on more shows.

- I think that the climb that Detroit is making right now,

really all it's missing is some ballet.

So I'm really excited that Ballet Edge

is right there growing with the city

and making the presence of ballet known in that growth.

(upbeat music)

(upbeat jazz music)

- Let me tell you about the harp program at Cass Tech,

which has been around for over 90 years.

Now we headed to the high school to find out

how students were able to learn such a difficult instrument.

Take a look.

(harp music)

- The words that come to mind when I hear the word harp

are beautiful, difficult, and underappreciated.

- It's something that becomes a passion

that you just don't want to release.

I began playing the harp in my ninth-grade year

at Cass Technical High School.

It's beautiful to look at.

I think it was probably more the aesthetic

of the instrument than anything else.

So, I said, I'll try this.

Cass has the oldest established harp program

in a public school, which began in 1925.

- We've been around for over 90 years

first starting with Velma Froude, Patricia Terry-Ross,

and now currently Ms. Lydia Cleaver.

- [Lydia] Wanting to come back was

the fulfillment of my desire to continue

to be a part of the program and to see it go on

after Patricia Terry-Ross retired.

And it was a great opportunity to be able

to work with older students and do more

sophisticated things musically

and just come home really.

- Harp ensemble is the class where everybody plays the harp.

And then harp and vocal is a combination

of harp and choir at the same time.

(choir singing)

- And one.

- Two and three.

I came into this class and I thought it was

really hard, like really, really hard,

because I've never been in a music class.

I didn't know how to read notes,

but it got better after a while.

- In Detroit, unfortunately we have suffered

significantly in the fine arts area

in our school system.

And so when students arrive in my classroom,

for the most part, they don't know anything about music.

So we start from the very beginning.


Stretch and slide down a little bit.

It's a practical skill.

They learn to solve problems in real time.

They learn to work collaboratively,

in addition to being able to apply principles of math,

they make connections to literature through song.

- They say that the harp is the hardest

instrument in the world.

So I feel like you can learn a lot of things

from the harp that you can use in life,

even if you're not gonna pursue music in college

or in the future.

- I think it prepares me for everyday life

in the way of not giving up on things

because it's really easy to give up on

an instrument like the harp 'cause it's hard.

It's teaching me to accept challenges

and use it as an exercise to better myself as a person.

- Look, 'cause that time, we didn't have any problem

with what chord to play.

When I see the students can learn how to

figure something out, that is super exciting for me

because they have learned patience,

how to break something down into parts

that you can then put together again

and create a whole and then actually give life to it

to create an emotional aspect of it,

and then share it with other people.

(choir singing) (harp music)

- I've never sang with a harp before harp and vocal,

which is very interesting.

Watching the harpists play as we sing,

it's another form of expression.

When we crescendo they crescendo and decrescendo.

It's very expressive and it's very essential

in conveying the message and sharing the music

with the audience.

(choir singing)

- I find music that is in our library typically,

that has worthiness, that they can dig some meaning out of.

♪ Going home ♪

♪ Going home ♪

- Today we're working on two songs,

one called Steal Away and then one called Going Home,

which they're both essentially about having peace

with yourself and being ready to go to heaven.

- It's a tribute to one of the many songs

that slaves used to sing.

- [Lydia] Three and four.

♪ Going home ♪

- [Lydia] Same freedom for everybody.

♪ Going home ♪

♪ I'm just going home ♪

- As a black singer, it's really important to know

the history of the songs.

It really helps to convey the message to the audience,

to have people relate to it.

- It means to me that we're doing something good,

we're giving people something that

maybe they didn't know they needed.

(harp music)

- I've heard Ms. Cleaver play the harp

and it's inspired me to keep going with what

I want to do because she's so passionate about it

and her passion has driven her to be great,

that it inspires me to be great in what I want to do.

(harp music)

- It's incredible.

I always, I play and then I'm like,

it's nothing compared to her.

She can play it right at that instinct

and it's beautiful.

(harp music)

- It's actually very angelic to hear the sound of the harp,

especially the way she plays it with such passion.

It only encourages us to sing the same way

with a lot of passion.

♪ I'm just going home ♪

- Much better, so now...

I'm extremely proud of my students.

I am extremely fortunate to work with young people

who get what it means to be responsible and to grow,

and they do it through music.

- After I leave high school,

I might go to college to play the harp

and I want to find a way to incorporate harp

into mainstream music because you don't really

see too many harpists in mainstream.

So I wanna figure out a way to maybe

make a new genre of music or something like that.

The experiences that I've had here at Cass Tech

have made me grateful for the things that I have,

especially with the harp program.

- We know that we'll have connections with people forever.

People that we know, if we need something

we can call them up in 20 years from now,

and we'll know that we'll have support.

- The great thing about it is that everyone

who's come through the program

has seen the benefits of it and the beauty of it.

They can see, wow this was really

an important part of my life.

And so we have that support and it is one of

the jewels of the district.

It's something that is unique,

and it belongs to Detroit Public Schools Community District.

(harp music)

- [Announcer] Funding for Detroit Performs is provided by

the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation,

the Kresge Foundation,

the A. Paul and Carol C. Schaap Foundation,

the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs,

the National Endowment for the Arts,

the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation,

and by contributions to your PBS station

from viewers like you.

Thank you.

(upbeat jazz music)


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