My interview with Roger and Sal from Moving Arts Espanola was informal to say the least. I had been meaning to shoot them an email asking for a more official interview time but before I could get around to that I ran in to them in a local cafe. Literally. I ran in to Sal. I almost dropped my maple glazed cupcake. I decided to take this near cupcake losing experience as the opportunity I was looking for and asked them to join me with their coffee (very grown up, I know).
Our talk was very informal. we talked about what why they started Moving Arts, why they started it in Espanola NM of all places, and their goals for introducing kids to art and movement. I was curious to learn about their goals and ambitions for the project before and after they started to teach the kids, and generally just wanted to talk to two men who think that art can make a change in a community.
one thing both roger and Sal were very adamant about was that, while they did hope to have a positive effect on their students, they are not trying to change the world or be super heroes. Both roger and Sal are local New Mexicans who know how hard it can be to express oneself in the often tight knit catholic communities of small town New Mexico. Both men struggled with being gay in a community where family and Church were everything and certain things were expected from the kids.
New Mexico is not an affluent state. It is ranked pretty darn low on income, has one of the worst public education systems in the country, and Espanola is ranked number on in the United states for drug overdoses per capita (ah home sweet home). all of these factors can make it hard to grow up as a well balanced individual. Children often turn to drugs and crime very early on and no one says or does anything. maybe its a family problem or just a cultural blindness to a problem. Roger and Sal, however, wanted to do something.
They didn’t Gloat and brag that their program saves kids lives, rather they say that they are just giving their kids an outlet to express themselves. to shout and scream and dance out what they are feeling. Both men can vouch for the benefits of art. Its what they used to get through the struggles of New Mexico living. So they thought why not pass on the gift, and see if they can inspire some budding artists out there in the community who wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to ever set foot on a stage.
Another point that they made that I found particularly interesting was that while they can talk a big talk about inspiring the younger generation and maybe changing a life or two, the actually reality of teaching the kids is a completely different matter. they could sit around for hours in meetings talking about child development and different techniques but when it comes to class time it really is just a teacher in a room with a bunch of rowdy kids and often all of that theory goes shooting out the window. The advice they left with me with was that it was important to get out of the head sometimes and just do it. because while the thinking is good you aren’t going to make a difference just by thinking.
Unfortunately our conversation got cut short when they noticed the time and had to make their excuses to run off to a dance class so i wasn’t able to pick their brains much further, but the short time I had with them was inspiring. So I’m going to strive to take that bit of advice from Roger Montoya and Sal Ruiz and get out of my head a little bit. An idea is good only as long as it can become a reality. So Party on dudes, and be excellent to each other.