Learning With: ‘A Star Is Made: 12 Performers Show What It Takes to Light Up the Stage in New York City’

Learning With: ‘A Star Is Made: 12 Performers Show What It Takes to Light Up the Stage in New York City’

Note to teachers: This is our last Article of the Day for the 2018-19 school year. Also, the video featuring Princess Nokia includes some curse words. Please be sure to preview it before showing it to students to make sure it is appropriate for your class.

Before reading the article:

Nearly 40 years ago, Frank Sinatra sang, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere / It’s up to you, New York, New York.” And more recently Alicia Keys sang, “Concrete jungle where dreams are made of / There’s nothing you can’t do / Now you’re in New York.”

Have you ever had dreams of making it big as a performer?

In today’s article, The New York Times Magazine celebrates 12 performers — ages 13 to 72, including a gospel singer and a sword swallower — trying to make it in New York City.

First, scroll through the article and watch each video clip showcasing the 12 performers.

What do you notice about the performers profiled in the article? What do you imagine are the pleasures and rewards for their types of performances? What do you imagine are the challenges?

Now, choose ONE of the 12 profiles in “A Star Is Made: 12 Performers Show What It Takes to Light Up the Stage in New York City.” Read the article, watch the accompanying video and answer the following questions:

1. Why did you select the article and performer you did? What did you find interesting about the person or type of performance?

2. Why did your performer choose that specific type of performance? What first drew her or him to it?

3. What are the benefits (financial, emotional, creative) for this kind of performance? What are the challenges?

4. How did your chosen performer learn and master the craft? What support — from family, friends, teachers, coaches and mentors — has the performer received while pursuing a creative life?

5. What sacrifices has the performer made for art?

6. What does a life in performance mean to your chosen performer? What has been that performer’s greatest achievement or success?

7. Look at the photos that accompany the text. What story do they tell about the particular craft and what it takes to be successful at it?

Finally, tell us more about what you think:

— What was most memorable, surprising or inspiring about the performers profiled in the article? Does any quote, photo or moment in a video stand out? What questions remain about your performer or his or her chosen craft?

— While some of the performers have had extensive artistic education, many have received little or no formal training and are pursuing nontraditional and emerging fields in performance. What life lessons can we learn from the people featured in the article?

— How do you express yourself creatively? Do your school, peers and family support creative expression and careers in performance? Which type of performance among the 12 featured in the article would you like to explore?

— Do you think artists are born or made? How much of one’s success is based on natural talent? Or can hard work and perseverance lead you to become a great performer? What do you think it takes to make it big?

— Would you consider a life or career in performance? Why or why not? Are you more likely to follow your own creative dreams after reading the article? Do you think you will ever have what it takes to make it on a big stage in New York City?