Chula Vista's Valle Lindo Elementary School that culminated with an assembly performance
by Imagination Express and some of the Valle Lindo students.
The 1st session of the workshop was met with some skepticism by the school's GATE
coordinator, Cathy Luzak, who learned of the troupe by word of mouth. Luzak, who
coordinates the program for academically gifted students, said she told Ballard that if the kids
didn't enjoy the 1st instalment of the workshop, the following sessions would
Not only did Express have to win the favor of Luzak, but they had to impress an auditorium of
more than 30 students 11 and 12 years old. During the first hour-long session, the Express
members explained how mime has a history that dates to the 1600s. They demonstrated the physical
vocabulary of mime, where the body creats illusions and then interacts with the illusion.
Amid giggles, students learned the "mirror exercise," in which they pair up with a partner
and reflect each other's movements. The students were shown "chasing hands,"
where one hand follows the other, resembling a pair of birds playing chase in the sky.
Then Express told the group to lie on the floor and pretend they were pieces of bacon
in a frying pan. While the imaginary skillet slowly grew hotter, each
student began to shake and twist like sizzling, popping strips.
At the end of the session kids surrounded Ballard and her troupe-mates Eric George, 32,
and Judah Buxton, 24, seeking last-minute pointers. At the end,some of the students were
looking forward to the next session.
Valle Lindo sixth-grader Sergio Villava said he found the workshop
fun and interesting. "I never learned about mime before" he said, "Before
today I thought (mime) was dumb."
Felica Montano, another sixth-grader at Valle Lindo, found the workshop insightful.
"It was fun to learn how to communicate without words," she said.
Express performances are more than just entertaining. Many skits deal with issues
such as drugs, smoking, alcohol and violence. George explains that kids connect with
the mime performances partly because it appeals on a basic level.
"Kids are very visual. We give them images that are harder to forget,"
Ballard added, "We don't talk, we show them."
She said the Express troupe attempts to deliver messages with honest depictions.
"We know that drugs can start off seeming fun and we show that but we also show the consequences," Ballard said.