Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) have been the foundation of many student’s lives around the world. Many of your favorite actors and actresses were a part of drama clubs or theatre in high school. These people are a few of many that used their VAPA experiences to build their careers. In addition, famous dancers and various other types of artists participated in VAPA and went on to compete and get scouted, following their passion until something became of it. As a result, many schools are beginning to recognize the benefits of VAPA in student’s lives and the effect it has on their mental health.
Elementary schools around the world are starting to pop up as performing arts hubs. Schools such as Los Berros VAPA, Marina del Rey Performing Arts Magnet School, Vista Academy of Performing Arts, and Westmont Elementary VAPA are noticing the dual-sided brain benefits of the Visual and Performing Arts. According to an experiment conducted by Professor Semir Zeki, when viewing art that the subject perceived as beautiful, there was a 10 percent increase in blood flow in part of the brain. Just by looking at art, our brains react in a dramatic way. Knowing this, imagine how the human mind reacts to art that we can control – what hidden parts of our brains could we unlock?
Psychologist Dr. Dacher Keltner from UC Berkeley further elaborates that “awe, wonder, and beauty” (which can be found in many forms of VAPA) can actually improve the duration of our lives. Keltner said “That [those feelings] promote healthier levels of cytokines, suggest[ing] the things we do to experience these emotions – a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art – has a direct influence upon health and life expectancy.” Both the visual arts and the performing arts can stimulate parts of our brain that would otherwise be inactive. It demonstrates that VAPA can not only assist people psychologically, but physically as well. The Visual and Performing Arts are extremely beneficial in being able to provide a creative outlet and stimulate the brain.
It’s no wonder many students use VAPA to merely have fun or creatively express. VAPA experiences- such as photography, dance, and acting- are great hobbies and incredible ways to let out frustration and express yourself freely. It’s the same for the students in our community. In an interview Sophomore Rebecca Villa, an art student at LHS, expresses why she loves art as much as she does and the role art plays in her life. “Art has always been a way to relate with people in my life. It allowed me to express my emotions better than I ever knew how to with words. Not only that, but it’s rewarding to step back from my art afterwards and see the piece I’ve made each time. Art has always found its way into my life…”. Through art, Villa has found peace. VAPA experiences can end up being solace for a lot of peoples’ lives – for their career or even their mental state.
I am an LHS Sophomore, as well as a Sapphire dance team member and I have participated in many forms of VAPA (drama, dance, and art). When I’m doing what I love, I feel as though I can express myself without feeling bad or feeling like I’ve said something wrong. I can just let go and say what I want – sometimes without even needing to actually say anything at all. VAPA is a great tool for communication and expression, not only within our careers but also our everyday lives.
VAPA has launched many occupations and spawned many different types of outlets and hobbies. It offers something to help people cope with everyday stresses and anxieties. To add to that, VAPA proves to be actively beneficial for your cognitive function. All in all, the Visual and Performing Arts are an amazing use of one’s time and energy.
To my fellow students looking for an outlet: many schools offer photography classes, band, choir, sound, yearbook and design, as well as many more interesting electives and clubs that fall under VAPA. Ask your Activities Director what your school has to offer and find something that interests you. If you can’t find anything, make something up! Most schools give students the chance to start their own clubs, so start planning. Once you’ve figured out what you want to do, recruit some members and talk to your Activities Director.
Regardless of your age or what you like, there’s a place for you in the Visual and Performing Arts Program. It doesn’t have to be public and the work doesn’t have to be a masterpiece but as long as you’re doing something that makes you feel free and uplifted, you’re doing it right.