Archive for March, 2016


Who Are They?: Celebration Barn – Part 2

March 31, 2016


This blog post is part of a series called Who Are They? where information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant. Please consider ways in which you can collaborate to provide excellent arts education for all learners.

This is the second of 5 blog posts about Celebration Barn which is located at 190 Stock Farm Rd, South Paris, ME. Thanks to Ian Bannon for providing the posts.

Celebration Barn is an immersive physical theater school where students develop their own works. Summer workshops are offered in a restored horse barn in rural Maine – a picturesque place that’s only a one-hour flight from New York City. This beautiful setting – away from distractions and obligations – allows performers to fully focus on their craft and develop their work in a supportive atmosphere where creativity and experimentation are encouraged.  The Barn attracts today’s most sought-after physical theater instructors and performers who grow and refine artists’ ideas through a uniquely rigorous and collaborative process.

Students perform as part of Dodi Disanto's 2015 Body-Motion-Gesture Workshop Photo by Davin Currie

Students perform as part of Dodi Disanto’s 2015 Body-Motion-Gesture Workshop
Photo by Davin Currie

Depending on the instructor, the one- and two-week-long intensive workshops can consume between 6-12 hours a day. Further, intimate class sizes ensure each student gets adequate attention during their stay. This professional training is open to students (ages 18+) of all experience levels.

Each year brings a different set of workshops. In 2015 the Barn is offering 7 workshops taught by artists from around the world. Natsuko Ohama encourages students to, “Free your voice! Free yourself!” through The Voice and The Performer. Aitor Bassauri from London’s Spymonkey Theater will teach a workshop on Creating Clown Material. Giovanni Fusetti will lead an exploration into a grotesque of humanity with Bouffon and The Ecstasy of Mocking. Lastly, Jeff Wirth will train an ensemble of cutting-edge, interactive performers during his StoryBox: Interactive Performance Intensive.

Then there are the perennial favorites:

Avner the Eccentric and Julie Goell have been mainstays of the program for many years with two week-long courses on their Eccentric Principles of clowning. The Barn’s most popular workshops, Intro to Eccentric Performing and Advanced Eccentric Performing draw many participants back time and time again.

Davis Robinson and Karen Montanaro, along with guest instructors, lead the Celebration Barn Devising Intensive each summer. This workshop is designed for directors, teachers, and performers interested in devising their own theater pieces. Students learn several methods for imaginative theater problem-solving by spending two intensive weeks devising solo, duet, and ensemble pieces. Students participate in daily classes in movement dynamics, improvisation, partnering, premise work, graphics, and scripting. In the afternoon, world-class artists provide them with a range of approaches. Evenings are spent working on assignments and sharing devised material.

For more information about Celebration Barn Theater workshops, visit their by CLICKING HERE.


Lincoln Academy Art Show

March 30, 2016

Opening March 31



School Song Unveiled

March 30, 2016


Music educator Allysa Anderson and musician Joani Mitchell

Music educator Allysa Anderson and musician
Joani Mitchell

Camden Rockport Middle School premiered their very own newly commissioned school song recently in an assembly with the student body and teachers participating proudly.

The song is entitled “Sail On” and has been created through a collaboration of staff, student, and community input and commissioned by a leading choral arranger/composer of middle school and high school music, Roger Emerson. During the ceremony  they listened to a video tape of a message from Roger and congratulated the students for their contributions to the song creation.

This project was funded through a Youth Arts grant that began last spring and has continued into this school year.

It was great seeing Allysa Anderson, CRMS general and choral music teacher (and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader) at the premiere! You can read the description from idea to fruition, in Allysa’s own words below the video. Marvelous work, (and play) Allysa!

Allysa’s personal statement

For years I have dreamt about Camden-Rockport Middle School attaining a school song. In my previous school employment, I had written one but this school was different.  I wanted it to be “awesome” and needed to tap into some “awesomeness” to make it happen right.  One day I was surfing the web and decided to send a composer (whose arrangements work really well in the choral groups at our school), Roger Emerson, a message, inquiring if he would be interested in writing a school song for us. Pleasantly to my surprise he responded that he had a window of time in the near future he would be able to serve us. I immediately began seeking grant money, receiving the principal’s approval, and getting the ball rolling with data collection.

It was important that the song be all-inclusive because a sense of community was driving the project. Using a writing prompt, we asked students, staff, and parents “what was important to them about our school and the place in which we live?”  Teachers were collaborative, flexible, and extremely supportive of this effort from the start. We worked with the composer Roger Emerson on the lyrics to get exactly what we were looking for, including adding a verse of our own. I had a vision of the song format, incorporating certain musical aspects including a bridge section that we could use in assemblies where each grade level would chant a part specific to its class. Although Roger did not write this part, we were able to do it on site; and he agreed to add it to our copy of the music. It was also critical to me that the song be written with the notion of adding instrumental band components in the future. Therefore, the key and the meter are reflective of this in the piece.

One of the highlights of my professional career was holding two Staff “classes” on workshop days where our teachers, ed techs, and custodians came to my music room to learn the school song. I pretended they were “middle schoolers” (mostly because I was nervous to stand in front of 40+ peers!) and taught them the song. It was a great community builder for our staff;  and, on a side note, I believe it led organically to advocacy for music within our school.

Realizing the massive scale of teaching nearly 400 students outside of the regular routine this new song in the midst of a few other major projects, including a school musical, I sought out the help of a colleague, Ian McKenzie. Over the course of three weeks and in a variety of creative places within the schedule, the two of us taught the song to the student body. As tech coordinator, he put together a video tutorial leading up to the all school assembly.

On a Friday in February (of our already yearly-programmed school Spirit Week), the entire school population came together in the gym to culminate the project and premier the song.  Musically speaking, it wasn’t perfect; but it was perfect in the sense that it was fun and brought everyone together on the same downbeat with the same positive message about learning, school, and life.

Music creates togetherness and just simply makes you “feel good”. I believe that this project did just that and hope that it will for years to come. I am blessed to work in such a supportive school and to have had this opportunity in some small way to impact positively a community through music. I dream it can be a reality for every school and every music teacher.


Another Arts Teacher’s Story: Elise Bothel

March 29, 2016

MALI Teacher Leader series


This is the fourth blog post of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Phase 5  Teacher Leader stories. This series contains a set of questions so you can learn a little bit about the work they are doing as Maine arts educators. CLICK HERE for more information on MALI. CLICK HERE for more information on the 73 of the MALI Teacher Leaders. CLICK HERE for Arts education resources. Search in the “search archives” box on the bottom right side of this post for past stories. There have been 63 posted to date.

Elise Photo - Meca PosterElise Bothel teaches grades K-5 art at Narragansett Elementary School in Gorham. She has been teaching at Narragansett for two years now, and is in her third year of teaching. Elise is the only art teacher in the school, and teaches part-time 3 days a week. She teaches 12 classes, about 220 students total, for 45 minutes each class. Elise also teaches an after school clay club at Narragansett, and has taught after school art classes at the Art Alliance in Gorham.

What do you like best about being a visual art educator?

I love seeing what my students create! I focus on adding choice to my lessons to let students explore their creativity and to help develop creative problem-solving skills. My favorite part of the day is when I see a student create something incredible, and to see the joy and pride in their face. I also love when students make connections from art class to their personal lives and what they are learning in their other classrooms.

What do you believe are three keys to ANY successful visual and performing arts education?

  1. The educator needs to be passionate about the subject.
  2. The educator needs to work to meet the needs of many.
  3. The program needs access to materials and support from the district, and if not, an educator that can advocate and get what they need.

How have you found assessment to be helpful to you in your classroom?

Assessment has helped my students track their own learning. It has made my program a bit more rigorous, but I feel that my students are learning more, understand why they are learning it, and what they need to do to meet proficiency.

What have been the benefits in becoming involved in the arts assessment initiative?

It has helped my increase confidence as an educator. I’ve gotten to know so many Visual and Performing Arts educators in Maine, and the benefits of connection are endless. I’ve already added so many new tools to my toolbox, and look forward to more collaboration and inspiration.

What are you most proud of in your career?

I am proud to say that I am a Teacher Leader in my third year of teaching! I’m proud of the respect I’ve received as an educator, despite how young I look. Most of all, I am proud of my students when I see them grow, build confidence, and show interest and excitement about something new.


Elise presenting on the MALI Critical Friends Day

What gets in the way of being a better teacher or doing a better job as a teacher?

Time is probably a challenge for every teacher. I wish I had more time with students to help them learn and progress as artists. Personally, the work/life balance can get in my way. I only work part-time, but I commute over an hour to work and participate in other activities after school. Making sure I don’t get burnt out or let my personal problems seep into my job can be challenging.

What have you accomplished through hard work and determination that might otherwise appear at first glance to be due to “luck” or circumstances?

This year I put on an Empty Bowls fundraiser for the Gorham Food Pantry, which raised over $1200. Though I facilitated the event, put in many extra hours, and had every student in the school make a clay bowl for the event; I didn’t seem to get the personal recognition of the success of the project. I now know that I need to advocate more for the art department and the hard work that I do. Here’s a link to a TV spot with a mention of the money raised, but no mention of our art program!

Look into your crystal ball: what advice would you give to teachers?

My advice to all teachers would be to breathe and to focus on the positive aspects of teaching. I see many teachers stressed, burned out, and counting minutes. Teachers need to remind themselves why they wanted to teach in the first place. My advice to arts educators is that it can feel isolating and we can feel misunderstood, but it is up to us to reach out, make connections, and find creative solutions to our unique challenges.

If you were given a $500,000.00 to do with whatever you please, what would it be?

I don’t want to be selfish but I would use some of the money to travel! As a life long learner, I’d love to see art and architecture from all over the world. I feel that my art curriculum could use more global awareness. I’d use the rest of the money to help the schools in Maine that don’t have the funding they need to have arts programs.

Imagine you are 94 years old. You’re looking back. Do you have any regrets?

I’m not quite sure what I’ll be getting up to by the time I’m 94, but I do already regret not taking the time to focus on my own artistic practice. I believe that it is important to have working artists as educators, and being an artist is important to me. I’m glad I have plenty of time to build and grow my own artistic practice.




Great Day for Arts Education

March 28, 2016

Arts Ed Advocacy Day a success
IMG_2009 - Version 2On Thursday, March 24 the State House in Augusta was mobbed with students articulating what the arts mean to them, individually and collectively. Their messages were clear and legislators from all regions of Maine were listening.


Biddeford Intermediate School Select Chorus under the direction of music educator and MALI Teacher Leader, Andrea Wollstadt

Maine Alliance for Arts Education (MAAE) directed by Susan Potters accompanied by many hands to organize the day. CONGRATULATIONS Susan! About 200 students representing elementary, middle, and high school were scheduled to meet with the representatives and senators from their regions.

Following the meetings students gathered in the Hall of Flags where there were performances and many were engaged in singing, dancing, poetry reciting, and visiting county tables with arts education information.


In Susan’s words, from MAAE website:

IMG_2003After the legislators themselves came downstairs a formal program included remarks by Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education, William Beardsley; Maine Arts Commission Arts Education Director, Argy Nestor; Farnsworth Museum Education Director, Roger Dell; Maine Resilience Building Network Co-facilitator, Sue Mackey Andrews; and Arts Education Program Manager at Americans for the Arts, Jeff Poulin. There were also student performances by the Biddeford Intermediate School Select Chorus, conducted by Andrea Wollstadt, by a Bangor High School English class working with teaching artist Katenia Keller, that had choreographed a piece collaboratively, and an art advocacy group speaking piece performed by SLAM! from SAD 33 in Aroostook County, directed by Theresa Cerceo.

It was a full day! But this Advocacy Day’s significance as a day of firsts was in the students themselves… not only in their sheer number (a first for the State House), but also as a statewide gathering of students involved in all art forms – visual art, music, dance, theater and poetry – meeting each other and feeling empowered. So this day was a first, but it wasn’t the last!


Makayla and Cayden, students from Marshwood High School with music educator and MALI Leadership Team member Kate Smith are all smiles at Arts Ed Advocacy Day!


Student Leaders in the Arts Movement (SLAM) presenting during the program.


Senator Brian Langly, co-chair of the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee speaks to students in the Hall of Flags.


Maine Department of Education Visual and Performing Arts Specialist Beth Lambert, music educator at Central Elementary School Kate Smith, and art educator from Dr. Levesque Elem, Wisdom Middle/High School, MSAD #33, Theresa Cerceo. Both Kate and Theresa are members of the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Leadership Team.


The Little Mermaid

March 27, 2016

April 1, Strom Auditorium, Camden

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader Allysa Anderson is directing her middle school students in The Little Mermaid.

Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 12.07.27 PM Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 12.07.42 PM


MLTI Screensavers

March 26, 2016

Selected artwork

Twenty student artists will have an audience of more thank 70,000 students and educators for their artwork. The results are in! The following 20 images will be found on 2016-2017 MLTI devices and from June 1, 2016 thru August 31, 2016, they will be on display in frames around the Department of Education!! Congratulations to the following students!!

Moshier Island w/Fog, Maximo Steverlynck-Horne, Freeport Middle School, Grade 8

Moshier Island w/Fog, Maximo Steverlynck-Horne, Freeport Middle School, Grade 8

“I Spy”, Haydn LaDeau, Deer Isle Stonington High School, Grade 12
“Moshier Island w/Fog”, Maximo Steverlynck-Horne, Freeport Middle School, Grade 8
“Pensive”, Ruth Metcalf, Middle School of the Kennebunks, Grade 7
“HorsePower”, Ryan Bent, Mount Desert Island High School, Grade 11
“Playin the Blues”, Cory Richards, Mount Desert Island High School, Grade 10
“Polygons”, Dana Clarito, Mount Desert Island High School, Grade 12
“The Singularity”, Dante DesVeaux, Mount Desert Island High School, Grade 10
“Connections”, Sophia DeSchiffart, Narraguagus High School, Grade 10
“Spider Lake Perspective”, Cassidy Osgood, Narraguagus High School, Grade 12
“We Have Takeoff”, Bobbi Grant, Southern Aroostook Community School, Grade 9
“Cherries”, Nicholas David, Freeport High School, Grade 11
“Elephant”, Lauren Briggs, Freeport High School, Grade 12
“Fall”, Ella Russell, Freeport High School, Grade 12
“Piano Tree”, Perrin Davidson, Freeport High School, Grade 11
“Dance”, Victoria Holmes, Houlton High School, Grade 11
“Harley”, Abby Fore, Houlton High School, Grade 12
“Ocean Breeze”, Taylor Fitzpatrick, Houlton Middle School, Grade 6
“Ereri”, Ciara Huggins, Lake Region Middle School, Grade 7
“Owl Maraca”, Jillian Whitney, Lake Region Middle School, Grade 7
“Stormy Seas”, Michael Smith, United Technology Center, Grade 12

Over the last six years, the MLTI device has featured screen savers featuring outstanding student works of art (twenty each year). To date, there have been well over two thousand pieces of artwork submitted. With the variety of devices available at MLTI, images are now made available as a download for either a screensaver or background image on every MLTI device.

More information is available by CLICKING HERE.


Maine Poet Laureate Announced

March 24, 2016

Stu Kestenbaum

Meet Maine’s Fifth State Poet Laureate -Stuart Kestenbaum of Deer Isle Assumes Mantle

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 9.05.21 PM

Stuart Kestenbaum

AUGUSTA, MAINE–The Maine Arts Commission (MAC) is thrilled to announce the appointment of Maine’s fifth state poet laureate. Stuart Kestenbaum, a resident of Deer Isle, will succeed Wesley McNair, who held the position since 2011. By legislative statute, the State Poet Laureate is appointed for a five-year term and may be reappointed for a second consecutive term. Kestenbaum’s predecessors include, in addition to McNair, Kate Barnes (1996-1999), Baron Wormser (2000-2005), and Betsy Sholl (2006-2011).

“When I was at Haystack I would frequently read poems—often by Maine poets—to artists who came from all around the US and other countries,” Kestenbaum said in a recent interview. “I wanted to give them a sense of place—of Maine—of its ingenuity and tenacity and of poetry’s power to slow the world down momentarily and let us see what’s most important.”

Stuart Kestenbaum is the author of four collections of poems, Pilgrimage (Coyote Love Press), House of Thanksgiving (Deerbrook Editions), and Prayers and Run-on Sentences (Deerbrook Editions) and Only Now (Deerbrook Editions). He has written and spoken widely on craft making and creativity, and his poems and writing have appeared in numerous small press publications and magazines including Tikkun, the Sun, the Beloit Poetry Journal, Northeast Corridor, and others and on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac.

“Stuart Kestenbaum writes the kind of poems I love to read, heartfelt responses to the privilege of having been given a life,” Ted Kooser, from 2004-06 the nation’s thirteenth poet laureate, wrote in regard to Kestenbaum’s Prayers and Run-on Sentences. “No hidden agendas here, no theories to espouse, nothing but life, pure life, set down with craft and love.”

Kestenbaum retired in 2015 as the longtime director of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts. He is currently the chair of the American Craft Council, for which he was elected an honorary fellow in 2006. This month he was also named an honorary member of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) during NCECA’s 50th annual conference in Kansas City, MO.

“Stu’s work beautifully captures the quirky, rural characteristics that make Maine unique and beloved,” said Julie Richard, Executive Director of the Maine Arts Commission. “The selection committee was unanimous in recommending him to the Governor to be Maine’s next Poet Laureate.”

Maine’s Poet Laureate position is an appointment designed to promote poetry throughout the state while honoring an eminent Maine poet for his or her achievements. The position was established by Maine statute in 1995. To be considered for this appointment, poets must be full-time Maine residents and have a distinguished body of poetic work.

“I’m so honored and grateful to have been selected as the state’s poet laureate. I hope to make connections between writers and other creative disciplines and to celebrate poetry’s power to transform us—poet and reader alike– in unexpected ways,” Kestenbaum added.

To learn more about the Maine Arts Commission’s current and future programs please go to You may also join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @MaineArts.


The Maine Arts Commission shall encourage and stimulate public interest and participation in the cultural heritage and cultural programs of our state; shall expand the state’s cultural resources; and shall encourage and assist freedom of artistic expression for the well being of the arts, to meet the needs and aspirations of persons in all parts of the state.


Who Are They?: Celebration Barn – Part 1

March 24, 2016

Celebration Barn

This blog post is part of a series called Who Are They? where information is provided for the Maine Arts Ed blog readers to learn about community organizations and institutions that provide educational opportunities in the arts. You will learn that they are partnering with other organizations and schools to extend learning opportunities, not supplant. Please consider ways in which you can collaborate to provide excellent arts education for all learners.

This is the first of 5 blog posts about Celebration Barn which is located at 190 Stock Farm Rd, South Paris, ME. Thanks to Ian Bannon for providing the posts.

Photo by Davin Currie

Photo by Davin Currie

Celebration Barn Theater is a center for creating and performing original theater. Dedicated to unleashing individuals creativity and building a creative community. Celebration Barn fuels the development of new work that is crafted, innovative and wildly alive.

Founded in 1972 on a farm in South Paris, Maine, the Barn was born out of internationally acclaimed mime artist Tony Montanaro’s drive to encourage people to create their own original theater. Now in its 44th year, Celebration Barn is world renowned for generating diverse and uniquely personal physical theater. Alumni are performing on Broadway, in film and television, and at thousands of festivals and theaters around the globe. From this creative oasis in the woods of Maine, we are launching the next generation of theater pioneers.

Each Saturday night, the Barn’s Summer Show Series brings world-class artists to Western Maine: from masterful physical comedy and powerful storytelling to off-the-wall improvisation and unforgettable spectacle.

Summer Workshops and Residencies provide theater artists with opportunities to train and develop new productions in a creatively-charged and bucolic setting. Many of these new works then tour world-wide and are seen by millions of audience members each year.

For more information about Celebration Barn Theater, visit their website by CLICKING HERE.

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