A Bigger Circle

by Nick Biddle, ’14
When I heard Talisman perform “Amazing Grace” at New Student Orientation my freshman year, I was in tears. And I know for a fact that I was not alone and that the group had the special ability to bring out emotions from the depths of my soul and I knew that I had to be a part of it. I signed up for auditions right after the show. Little did I know that what I was getting into was so much more than just a singing group.

This spring the group toured in Charleston, SC and Atlanta, GA to get a deeper understanding of the African American roots of some of our music. Along with the music we learned and the amazing experiences we had meeting people in the south, we also had personal journeys that brought us together that I could never have imagined I would have before joining.Identity and the idea of what it means to be an ally had been a pivotal discussion point of our year, and over tour we dug into the conversation.

Late one night we went around the room and  told each other how we identify and what those identities mean to us. We talked about realizing identities that one might not even realize they have because of the privileged life they had been fortunate enough to live. We talked about what it means to stand in solidarity with people so that they are not always the ones to stand up for themselves. We talked about what it looks like to actively learn how to better ones self because nobody is perfect when it comes to being an ally.After a late night of conversations, the group was much closer and each member left feeling empowered to act.

One special event that has been the main inspiration for our spring show was participating in an after school program called Voices in the Treetops led by a woman names Paula. As we sat in a circle with the kids and with volunteers drumming, people filtered in late and asked to join the circle. Paula stopped the drumming. She told us something so elementary, but so profound. “When somebody comes through the door, they should never have to ask to join, make the circle bigger as soon as they come in.”It was something that we are taught in elementary school, so why did we not live by it already? When somebody is sitting awkwardly on the sidelines when people I am playing basketball, why do I keep up the barriers to them joining? Why to I expect them to build up the courage to ask to play? Why do I not make all the circle in my life bigger and break down all the barriers? Since that encounter I have tried to live by that simple rule, and we have made it the centerpiece of our spring show.

If you want to get more insight into the kinds of talks and experiences we had, such as visiting prisons and experiencing intense racial division first hand, we will be talking about these things at our spring show on Saturday, May, 19th. It will be a night of discovery, breaking down barriers, and opening up dialogue through stories and music. I wish I were a more eloquent writer to express the awesomeness that will be Talisman Spring Show! But sadly, I am not. Luckily, the show can speak for itself, so come and share a wonderful night with us. It will be a night to remember.

Talisman Spring Show: “A Bigger Circle”
May 19, 2012 • 7:30 PM
Dinkelspiel Auditorium
Tickets at the door are $8 for students, $10 for everyone else

Nick is a member of Talisman.
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