When writer, director, and producer Robb Dimmick imagined La Musica de Mi Gente, a Musical that celebrates the rich cultures of the Latino people, he envisioned a cast of talented Paul Cuffee students singing stirring songs, reciting resonant words, and evoking the spirit of a people and a culture that has contributed richly and deeply to our world. His vision was beautifully realized on the Providence Career and Technical Academy auditorium stage as 17 Middle School students alternately sang, danced, spoke, and shared the story of one of America’s most resplendent cultures. They were joined by six Upper School students, who provided rhythm in the form of syncopated drumming.
Populated primarily by students and a few adults, the large stage, sparsely decorated, always felt filled. The 17 students, accompanied by keyboardist Cathy Clasper-Torch, and Drumming Master, Sidy Maiga, opened with the Upper School students helping us travel over seas to the Caribbean to begin our journey through Latino culture. The student performers sang songs, such as Waiting for Life, America, We Dance, Yo Te Dare, and they danced to other ones, such as Gracias a la Vida, Guantanamera, El Pueblo Unido Jama Sera Vencido, De Colores, and Day After That. The music and the dancing were complemented by the spoken word, as poetry filled the stage: the words of Julia Alvarez, Juan Flores, David Hayes-Bautista, Adam aria Isasi-Diaz, and other persons poignantly shared the pride, the joy, and the struggles that living in America with roots entrenched elsewhere provides.
The purpose of this musical, save to honor the hard work and talent of our students and their teachers and mentors, celebrates The Wiggins Society at the Paul Cuffee School. The Wiggins Society seeks to honor the memory of Posy Wiggins, an advocate for social and racial justice. She spent her professional life studying and teaching about African Americans. Her children, because of her connection to the Paul Cuffee School, happily donated her large collection of books by and about African Americans to our library. The purpose of the Wiggins Society is to honor Posy and to educate our students. This year, the Society produced a film that will enable students to understand the power of one woman to make a difference.
The Musical, so beautifully performed by our extraordinary ensemble, helped us reach our dual goal of honoring Posy Wiggins and educating our community. Since it was held off campus, it allowed us to connect meaningfully with the larger Providence community. Robb Dimmick, in discussing the performers, noted, “Through their devotion to this project, they teach us about hope, commitment, and the glory of the human spirit.”
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