Mixing media on stage and in school

Sunday Snapshots

Dawn Cooper Barnes...

April 14, 1996|By Jean Marbella

Mixing media on stage and in school; Dawn Cooper Barnes: 0) Founder of multicultural dance company sees the performance arts as interrelated methods of communicating.

At Howard Community College, students have found Dawn Cooper Barnes teaching classes from English to film to dance to mass media, but no, she doesn't get whiplash swinging from subject to subject.

"It's all about communicating," she says, "how to entertain and enlighten. It's really all the same and interrelated."

Ms. Barnes, 38, similarly takes a broad-spectrum approach to the Aurora Dance Company, which she founded about a year ago: The dozen or so dancers perform a mix of jazz, African and modern choreography, and reflect various backgrounds themselves.

"We are a diverse group, 18 to 38 [years old], all races," she says. "We even had one who was an au pair from Germany, but she had to move back."

Ms. Barnes left her native Liberia in 1975 to study at the University of Michigan, where she discovered that dance, a lifelong love, was an actual academic discipline. After receiving a master's degree in theater at Hunter College in New York, she returned to Liberia, but the 1980 coup there persuaded her family to relocate to the United States.

After living and teaching in Tennessee and New Jersey, she moved in 1986 to Columbia, where she, her husband and four children continue to live. Along the way, she also picked up a doctorate in cinema studies at the University of Maryland.

She created Aurora as a multicultural arts group, "in part because that was sort of the buzz then, but also because I really love the diversity of dance -- Spanish, Asian, Native American.

"We're all different, but so much alike, too." Ninety-year-old Mary Carmelita Hayden was one of Maryland's first Girl Scouts.

Mrs. Hayden, now a resident of the Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville, has lived in Maryland all her life. Although she doesn't remember most of the specifics, she does remember that she moved to Pikesville in September 1912, and in 1913 she joined the Scouts.

"A young lady came to interview me and my mother to see if we would be interested in joining the Scouts," Mrs. Hayden said.

"It was just great for me because we had just moved to Pikesville, and about six months later the Scouts formed, which meant that I was able to make new friends."

Mrs. Hayden joined Pikesville's Girl Scout Troop No. 14, known as the Red Poppy Troop, when she was 8 years old, and stayed with it through grammar school.

Although Mrs. Hayden says her scouting experience was "a long way back," she encourages girls today to join the Girl Scouts.

"Well, I don't know if it's better today than it was in my time," she said. "Today things are too sophisticated." And just a little pricier.

Mrs. Hayden recalled one of the troop's trips to Ocean City, where the girls stayed in the troop leader's cottage. "We paid our own fare for transportation, and I don't think that that was much more than $6 or $7. Board cost us $1 a day and a canned good."

While in the Scouts, she learned first aid, health tips, knitting, gardening -- "everything expected of a Scout." Mrs. Hayden fondly remembers hiking, camping and hay rides.

"We just had a little country atmosphere, and it was very nice," said Mrs. Hayden. "We were just special to ourselves."

Pub Date: 4/14/96

Christie Santiago

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