Meet The Teaching Artist: Marjorie Enerson
The Count Basie Center Performing Arts Academy offers a host of arts education options for parents and children alike — from private and group vocal and acting lessons, to guidance in acting for television and film, productions like Seussical, Jr. and Shrek, Jr. and more.
Today, we introduce Marjorie Enerson, one of the Basie Academy’s most popular and longest-tenured instructors. Marjorie teaches acting and many of the Basie Academy’s weekend workshops.
What makes you a unique teacher?
When I look up the word “unique,” the synonyms that stand out to me are “quirky” and “individual”. I’d say that those two words encompass me as a person and an educator. I treat each of my students and their families as individuals with their own concerns and needs. Teaching for me goes beyond the classroom and the hour or more that the class takes up. I find myself in a position to chat, counsel, encourage, and basically show a sincere concern and interest in the children I teach.
And if you are wondering why I relate to the synonym “quirky” is because that is me and I think quirkiness is very relatable to others.
What will students take away from your classes at the Basie Academy?
Students who take my classes at Basie – whether they are 4 or 13 years old – will take away confidence, a passion for performing (and by that I mean, performing is the sport of their choice — just like some children play soccer, while others take karate or gymnastics) and last but not least, the ability to express themselves. This is something that is so simple yet so difficult for so many.
What is your philosophy on the importance of arts education?
It’s simple: The arts create memories. Math, science and language arts are all so important to education, and yet most life-long memories for children come from the bonds they build with peers during arts-based experience like school plays, concerts, dance recitals — even classroom presentations.
What are your strengths as a teacher?
My strengths as a teacher can be explained through one story. I had a student about five years ago in my ‘The Show Must Go On’ class who the reason they liked the class so much was because I took it so seriously — and because of that, it made them want to as well. It was the oddest but best compliment I had ever received thus far in my teaching career.
How have the arts impacted your life?
The arts are my safe place to be. I was awful at sports, I was too short and chunky for cheerleading or pageants, and the theatre was my place to shine. All of my fond memories came from performing in school plays and the friendships I built from with theatre pals.
So then why did you choose your specific genre of performing arts?
I chose to teach acting because I saw how relevant it was in everyday life for children. Being able to express yourself in front of others, whether you are talking to teachers, peers or going on a college or job interview, all comes from building confidence in yourself. As much as I love to dance and sing, I was always most comfortable with the acting side of performing arts, and I saw the importance on building on skills like articulation and enunciation — but also a nice strong stance and handshake.
Have any funny anecdotes from your experiences in arts ed?
Hmm… The first thing that comes to mind stems from that old saying, “…out of the mouths of babes“. I was teaching a 4/5 year old class where I was acting out a story that I wrote called “The Magic Egg.” I played all the characters in the story with different voices. When I finished acting out the story, a little girl yelled out. “Miss Marjorie, you are so weird and I love that.” End of story.
What artist has inspired you the most and why?
Barbara Streisand has inspired me the most because of her talent and her sense of self. No matter how many people said she should get her nose fixed, she knew that it was what made her unique and that if you loved her you would love her nose too!
Why do you like teaching at the Basie Center?
I actually love teaching for the Count Basie Center for the Arts. I’m always so proud to say I teach here, and I’ve maintained that even if I won the lottery, I’d still teach performing arts at the Basie!
New classes start weekly at the Count Basie Center for the Arts Performing Arts Academy. For more info, click here.