The first bell has just rung at Boston’s English High, a school that has been an epic failure for so long that the state has threatened to take it over. A dozen students are gathered in a fluorescent-lit room, and they are loud. So loud that you can hear them all the way down the corridor and through the cafeteria doors. So loud that they drive every thought from your head but one: Dance.
English High has a drumline. Reggie, Miasia, Australia, and the other kids stand behind tenor, bass, and snare drums. Guided through a complicated series of cadences by music teacher Eytan Wurman’s whistle, the players weave their beats into a groove that rises up and goes through you. Boom-ba-boom-ba-boom, rat-tat-tat-tat-tat, boom-ba boom-ba-boom, rat-tat-tat.