Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures

On Monday, May 1, our class watched Hidden Figures to conclude our semester together. The movie was about three black women were “computers,” mathematical calculators, for NASA during the space race against the Soviet Union. The three woman– Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson– all had integral parts helping the United States get ahead in the space race by sending John Glenn into orbit around the earth. Katherine was responsible for doing the calculations for Glenn’s take off, point of reentry, and landing zone. Dorothy was responsible for getting an IBM computer to start working for NASA, also keeping jobs of many other African American female computers by having them work on the computer with her. Mary had responsibilities the with engineering design of the rocket Glen would be in. Throughout this story they faced marginalization for being both African American and female.

This real story relates both semesters of Honors this year, but especially with HON 120. It relates to imagination from the “five ways of knowing” by recreating a story and putting it into real life again. It relates to hearing the voice of the marginalized because this movie and the book it was based it helped give these women the credit they deserved for their work they did for NASA. They all faced discrimination for being African American. Katherine was forced to go a half a mile to use the restroom and drink from a separate coffee pot. Dorothy was not allowed to become a supervisor and check out a certain book from library. Mary was not able to go to college classes she needed to become an engineer until she fought it in court. These women were also marginalized because they were women. Katherine was not able to attend critical meetings for her calculations because she was a woman. Mary was questioned by a professor for attending class because the curriculum was not meant for women. Towards the end though their voices were heard. Katherine’s boss got her clearance to attend the meeting also got rid of the colored bathroom signs and her separate coffee pot. The judge allowed Mary to attend classes at a segregated school. Dorothy was able to become the supervisor of the IBM.

I really enjoyed this movie a lot because it was a story of empowerment for both African Americans and woman. A lot of people probably would not have known about these women unless they knew more about NASA back then. I really liked that we got to see into the personal lives of these women as well. One of my favorite actresses, Octavia Spencer, was Dorothy in the movie playing a sassy woman in the film, which I love. Every film she is in she is sassy, and she does it so well. Overall, I really enjoyed the film and the message that this film gave. Katherine’s boss, Al Harrison, said, “Here at NASA we all pee the same color.” To me this film was all about what he said there because we are all the same no matter what race or gender.

Spring Into Dance 2017

2017 Spring Into Dance

On Sunday, April 30, I went to the Spring Into Dance. It featured many different dances with numbers of students in each piece. There were ballet, hip hop, Hmong, ballroom, and contemporary types of dances in the program, giving it a wide variety to speak to everyone who came. There were students, alumni, and professionals who choreographed each piece showing the talent of these people to not only dance but to teach. Before each piece, the choreographers would speak about each dance telling the audience the meaning behind them. 

The dancing in Spring Into Dance relates to both HON 110 and HON 120. Dancing is considering a creative process of movement involving all parts of the body to create a vision in one’s imagination, one of the “five ways of knowing” we studied in HON 110. Because dancing can be a visual representation, it can be used to hear the voices of the marginalized. There are many cultures where dance is a part of their life: Native American, African, Hmong, Chinese, and many others.  Their dances give a visual voice into knowing about their lives because they have danced for celebrations, protection, and religion. Today with more modern types of dancing choreographers are now able to put music and dance to a particular event or message. I remember seeing a dance on television that was inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement. It featured dancers dancing to a darker type of music with an African American dancer having an “artistic” death by a white dancer. After that, each dancer did their own dance with never much unison to show inequality.  At the end of the dance, all of them came together and danced in unison, ultimately coming together holding hands to represent equality.

Overall, I really enjoyed this dance program. I am usually not one who is into watching dancing, but because of the variety of dances involved,  I really enjoyed watching everyone. I enjoyed seeing my friends and classmates dance because some of them I did not know could dance like that. I really enjoyed the dance, On My Wedding Day, because it was a type of dance I have never seen. It gave me a glimpse into the Hmong culture with the mother-daughter relationships they have with the wedding. I loved the costuming for that because it was really similar to their actual traditional clothes. All the dances were amazing and helped create a good end to the school year.

Spring Jazz Concert

Spring Jazz Concert

Saturday, April 29, was the Spring Jazz Concert featuring Blue Rondo Band, an instrumental jazz group, and Vox 9, a vocal jazz group. First to play was Blue Rondo, which played six  songs: “Boplicity,” “Basin Street Blues,” “Waltz for Hornz,” “Walnut Creek,” “So What,” and “Blues in Hoss Flat.”  In between “Walnut Creek” and “So What” the piece Summertime was played by a small select few. In the band, under the direction of Adam Rossmiller, were two alto saxophones, two tenor saxophones, a baritone saxophone, two trombones, and one trumpet. The band then had professional musicians fill in the rhythm section: bass, drum set, and piano. Vox 9, under the direction of William White, sang six songs: “God Only Knows,” “Come Sunday,” “Wings to Fly,” “Drive My Car,” “A Life for Me,” and “That’s What Friends are For.” In between the first and last three songs four of the students sang solo songs with a guest instrumental solo in each. First was Scott Kleppe who sang “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” with a trumpet solo by Adam Rossmiller. Anne Gifford sang “L.O.V. E” with a saxophone solo by Keith Williams. Logan Van Sickle sang “Nature Boy” with a saxophone solo by Josiah Bode. To conclude the solos, Laura Taranto sang “At Last” with a saxophone solo by Keith Williams. Overall, the music created a beautiful concert, showcasing every student’s vocal and instrumental talents.

The jazz concert ties into Honors 110 through imagination and emotion from the “five ways of knowing.” The jazz music fits in imagination because music is a creative art form used to describe practically anything one could think of. The pieces of music can also be used as a way to represent emotion. A person can tell the emotion in the vocal piece through the tone of the singer’s voice, the tempo, and lyrics. In Laura’s solo, one could sense the emotion of happiness in the piece through the lyrics, her uplifting voice, and the upbeat background and tempo. In instrumental pieces, it can be harder than just the title, dynamics, and tempo. One may need to know more about the genre and the piece, itself, to figure it out. Ballads are mainly romantic, giving off the emotion love and happiness. They also can be about sad, like “break up” ballad, so to figure the emotion out, titles help. Jazz can relate to Honors 120 through its history. Jazz first has its early forms from slavery as a way to help relieve some of the hardships that came with slavery. Today’s jazz has its roots from African Americans, like Duke Ellington. When jazz started becoming popular in the 1920’s and 30’s African Americans were marginalized because they were not able to show their talent to many, and had to perform to African Americans only. When technology became more prevalent and cheaper African Americans were able to perform their music on air to the masses without race becoming an issue. Because of the radio people only focused on the voice, and skin color did not matter unless it came to the radio station head. People could have just been going through the radio to find some to listen to, and when the jazz caught their attention they may have never known that it was an African American run station.

For this concert I performed in the instrumental group, Blue Rondo, and performed a solo in the last piece, “Blues in Hoss Flat.”  My favorite songs that I played in were “Walnut Creek” and “Blues in Hoss Flat.” I loved the part I played in “Walnut Creek” and the saxophone melody that was throughout the piece. I was also very confident in the piece because the many practice sessions we had. I loved “Blues in Hoss Flat” not because I had to solo, but because it was one of my most confident pieces I played this whole year. From Vox 9 I really liked “A Life for Me” because the song was so touching and the soloist sang so beautifully. Another one I really liked was “Drive My Car” because I am a Beatles fan, and the vocal percussion in that piece was great. I really enjoyed working with the jazz band, but really wished we had a student rhythm section this semester. Overall, I enjoyed this concert and am proud of the performance I gave with my fellow musicians.