Tipton-Durant recreates Cotton Club

Published 9:55 pm Tuesday, April 27, 2010

By transforming the gymnasium of Tipton-Durant Middle School to The Cotton Club, a popular club in New York of the Harlem Renaissance era, students, teachers and visitors spent an hour viewing the arts of the time period.

“This was an exciting time in our history,” said Denise Dukes, a master teaching artist. “It was a time when African-Americans and all Americans alike joined together in celebrating our artistic expressions of all the things that we are endured during a time of hardship, both economic and in our lives.”

Selected civics classes of seventh and eighth grade students performed poetic expressions to poems of Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Langston Hughes, and swing dance numbers to music of Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

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Dukes spent five days teaching students about the arts of this era.

Students Amber Jackson and Arqcaveon Walker participated in a poetic expression piece.

“This gave us a hands-on way to learn something new and it made it a better way to learn it by having hand movements and stuff like that,” Amber said.

Arqcaveon also found that he could better retain information through the poems and dances.

“It helped me to experience how people lived back then and how fun it was at that time,” Arqcaveon said.

Dukes visits schools of Selma and Dallas County, provided by the Alabama Black Belt Arts in Education Initiative through the Alabama State Department of Education.

She also is the founder of Elyon Worldwide, a company that helps people maximize their potential in business development, arts education and health and fitness.