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Bringing music and theater to the Leadership Center

Juilliard dance major Ashley teaches Edward a few moves.

Residents at the Odyssey House Leadership Center were treated to a special performance by Juilliard students this past weekend. Four students – a dancer, two drama majors and a jazz musician – performed a variety of musical numbers and a scene from Henrik Ibsen play Peer Gynt, and even gave the residents some dance lessons.

It was more than a recital, though. The students interacted with the residents, talking to them about their musical interests, introducing them to famous composers and performing more contemporary songs.  After talking about how music can be a creative outlet as well as a way of having a conversation with others, they led the residents in a sing along to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah.”
The residents have responded very well to the performances, connecting with the musicians and asking questions about their instruments and training. Some of the residents are amateur musicians as well, and are particularly interested in the Juilliard students’ stories of how they became interested in their respective disciplines.
Juilliard students have been performing at the Leadership Center regularly since 2009 as part of the Gluck Community ServiceFellowship (GCSF), a program that provides for more than 450 performances at 47 New York City health care facilities each year. Each visit has brought a different group of students, exposing residents to a variety of disciplines. The Juilliard students’ experiences in GCSF inform their performing careers and support the development of a personal commitment to community service.
Shalawn Barry, a social worker at the Leadership Center, brought the program to Odyssey House to help keep residents engaged in treatment and expose them to different genres of music and performances that they would not normally come across. “I think it’s important to expose our teens to new experiences to enhance their educational and social experiences while at Odyssey House,” said Ms. Barry.

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