Archive for February, 2018


Dance Ed Grant Story

February 28, 2018

Hebron Academy

In December I traveled to Hebron for a visit with Teaching Artist, dancer Karen Montanaro and Director of Drama, Sarah Coleman, Hebron Academy. Hebron Academy received funding from the Dance Education grant from the Maine Arts Commission. I really appreciated the opportunity to see the dance residency in action. I was reminded of what dance education provides that is unique to the discipline. The list of skills students have a chance to develop is very long. Thanks to Sarah and Karen for providing their reflections on the residency.


Hebron Academy was pleased to receive a grant from the Maine Arts Commission to support a residency with Karen Montanaro over two weeks in December. The goal of this residency was two-fold. First to provide an opportunity for students in the classes to experience the art form of dance/movement. Second, for the school to offer a dance/movement opportunity with the hope of continuing to develop interest in after-school opportunities, and eventually classes in dance.
Karen worked with three high school performing arts classes on movement, presence, and performance. Students were challenged to use their bodies in ways that were very different from their daily routine – to move, to improv and to explore. At first, this was an extremely challenging and uncomfortable experience for students, but as they became more familiar with Karen they were able to release some of their self-consciousness and participate with more freedom. In writing about their experience students shared reflections such as,
  • ” I truly believe that she opened a door to an unknown side of myself. Through the unusual games and dance movements, she helped me gain confidence moving and using my body as a tool.”
  • “Having Karen in our class was definitely a fun and relaxing experience…with her there [were] no expectations or even limits.”
  • “From that week I explored [a] part of myself [that] I usually don’t.”
As a former teaching artist for many years, the experience with Karen was both typical and special. It was typical in that with anything new, different and disruptive to the traditional approaches to class participation (sitting) many students are resistant. It was special because with Karen, who brings her open, honest, authentic self to every class, students can’t help but release and play. Most importantly she challenges them to practice vulnerability – something we talk about often in our arts classes, but is hard to highlight daily. Even with the large amount of resistance she faced with our 9th graders, she continued to support and gently nudge them to let down their guard at a pace that was more comfortable to them.
A fellow 9th-grade teacher shared the other day that music was on in another class setting and a number of the students starting doing the movement sequence Karen had taught them. That feels like a true moment of impact, and success.

I taught three very different classes and each class had its own positive aspects and signs of success. Two of the classes were electives. These two classes were positive experiences from start to finish. Each student came in ready to learn and try new things. Shyness and self-consciousness showed up in various ways (i.e., moving tentatively rather than boldly, speaking softly rather than speaking to be heard), but all of the students in these classes began to move with more authority and confidence. They willingly stepped beyond their comfort zones — where real learning takes place.
Success in these classes took the form of an enlarged movement vocabulary, more skill and precision in mime and dance techniques and an improved ability to access their own, truly original movement impulses. A lightness-of-mood “greased” these steep learning curves.  With each new skill, students progressed from tentative awkwardness to almost stage-worthy performance.
The more challenging class was the ninth grade arts class with thirty six students. About a third of the class was fully on-board from the beginning, but the remaining two thirds were almost paralyzed by self-consciousness. I told them that I was caught “between a rock and hard place” because the only way my class was going to work was if they agreed to be there. I couldn’t do anything without them. On the last day, all the students danced! They ran and leapt into position and we went through the choreography full tilt. By now, they knew the steps and I was thrilled to see even the most reluctant students moving with more energy and precision. It was clear to me that they had found themselves on the other side of a very threatening learning curve; a learning curve unique to the dance-experience that involves visibility, spontaneity, energy and expressive risk-taking. Watching this class move with willingness and assertiveness, I had a revelation that I shared with them. I told them that my highest hope for this class is that they will experience a type of movement that makes them feel so good inside their skin, they won’t need outside approval.  Paradoxically when you lose this sense of need, thats when you gain real friends  friends that will help you rather than hold you back
I learned invaluable lessons from all the students. They reinforced the importance of what I do and why I do it. My goal is to create a safe environment where they can take huge emotional risks; an environment that allows them to step out of the digital world and into the full light of day — to experience their energy, visibility, intelligence and originality working together in profoundly expressive ways and to love presenting themselves to the world this way.

The Maine Arts Commission will provide the dance grant once again this year thanks to a generous donation from a performance put together by a collaborative group of dance educators. Two other locations are enjoying this funding, I will provide information each of them after my visits to the schools.


Doodle 4 Google

February 27, 2018

Let the doodling begin

What inspires me?Does art inspire you? Clouds that look like faces? Sugar? Discovering new galaxies? Artists have looked to the world around them for centuries to gain inspiration. This year’s 10th anniversary of Doodle 4 Google asks students to do the same. The winner’s artwork will be made into an interactive doodle on as well as loads of scholarships and prize

Students in grades K-12 are invited to take part in the 2018 Doodle 4 Google contest, and create an uplifting doodle that tells the world “What inspires me.” From crayons to clay, graphic design, or even food, young artists can utilize any materials to bring their creation to life. Like all Google Doodles, each doodle must incorporate the letters G-o-o-g-l-e. One national winner will receive a $30,000 college scholarship, a $50,000 technology package for their school/non-profit organization, and a behind-the-scenes experience with the Doodle team to transform their Doodle into an interactive experience on DEADLINE: March 2nd, 2018



Mid Maine Youth Orchestra

February 26, 2018

March 2 and March 4

Click to see larger


In Today’s News

February 25, 2018

Ukulele camp
Portland Press Herald article written by Gillian Graham about the ukulele program at Riverton Elementary School. READ HERE.


VSA Program Requests

February 25, 2018


Nonprofit arts, education, and cultural organizations

We’re Looking for Contractors to Deliver VSA Programs

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is seeking contract proposals from eligible and qualified nonprofit arts, education, and cultural organizations to perform the VSA programs listed below that provide arts education experiences to students with disabilities. View the Requests for Contract Proposals (RFPs) for specific program details.


The deadline to submit proposals is 
Wednesday, March 28, 2018, 11:59 PM EDT

1. VSA Arts Connect All – Professional Development Program
Implement professional development opportunities of 5 or more hours for educators teaching the arts to students with disabilities, ages 3 to 22, pre-kindergarten–grade 12. Serve 50 or more educators of students with disabilities. $3,000–$18,000.

2. VSA Arts Connect All – Workshop/Residency Program
Implement school or community arts education workshops and/or residencies of 5 or more instructional hours for students with disabilities, ages 3 to 22, pre-kindergarten–grade 12. Serve 75 or more students with disabilities. $3,000 to $18,000.
Had a VAD or MES contract in the past? Now apply to AWR.

3. VSA Playwright Discovery Program

Implement writing for performance classes or workshops of 5 or more hours for students with disabilities, in middle and high school, grades 6-12, ages 11-22. Strong preference given to proposals that explore the theme of the disability experience. Serve 75 or more students with disabilities. $3,000 to $18,000.

4. VSA TiLT Digital Storytelling Program

Implement digital storytelling classes or workshops of 5 or  more hours for students with disabilities, middle and high school, grades 6-12, ages 11-22. Strong preference given to proposals that explore the theme of the disability experience. Serve 75 or more students with disabilities. $3,000 to $18,000.

5. VSA Museum Access for Kids Program
Implement accessible arts experiences with related educational programming for students with disabilities, ages 3 to 22, pre-kindergarten–grade 12. Serve 100 or more students with disabilities. $3,000 to $15,000.

6. VSA Performing Arts Access for Kids Program
Implement accessible performing arts experiences with related educational programming for students with disabilities, ages 3 to 22, pre-kindergarten–grade 12. Serve 100 or more students with disabilities. Must be a nonprofit performing arts venue to apply. $3,000 to $15,000.

7. Rosemary Kennedy Initiative

Implement transition opportunities for youth with disabilities, ages 15 to 22, in creative careers, arts, arts education, or arts management internships, or pre-professional training programs of 40 or more hours. Serve 5 or more students with disabilities. $3,000 to $15,000.

How to Apply:  Eligible and qualified organizations are required to submit contract proposals online at the link specified in each RFP. Eligible organizations may submit proposals to a maximum of two different 2018-2019 VSA Requests for Contract Proposals, but the Kennedy Center will issue a contract offer for no more than one proposal per eligible organization. Before applying, read RFPs thoroughly as updates have been made for the 2018-2019 contract cycle.

Proposal Submission Deadline:  March 28, 2018 at 11:59 pm (Eastern Daylight Time)

Notification:  Selected recipients will be notified by June 30, 2018.

For questions and information, please contact Stephanie Litvak,

To request an accommodation or receive materials in an alternative format, contact Stephanie Litvak,, at least two weeks prior to the submission deadline.


Dancing Color

February 24, 2018

Slow motion movement of drowned color

This is pretty amazing – something you may want to share with your students.

Experimental musician and artist Kamiel Rongen of Water Ballet captured the graceful slow motion movement of drowned color as it formed vivid threads and shapes that danced their way up to the surface. Rongen stated that this was all created in his Amsterdam studio for his original song “Barbapapa“.


Maine Arts Awards

February 23, 2018

First time presented

The Maine Arts Commission and ArtsEngageME are pleased to be partnering on the Maine Arts Awards – a brand new program to recognize and celebrate the arts in our communities.

The first Maine Arts Awards ceremony will take place during the Maine International Conference on the Arts on September 28, 2018. Each awardee in seven categories will be given a work of art commissioned especially for the Maine Arts Awards.

Any Maine citizen, organization, business, school, or community may be a Maine Arts Awards nominee. Accomplishments of a nominee should reflect substantial contributions made in Maine that exemplify a long-term commitment to the arts.

  • Any Maine citizen that meets the eligibility requirements can make a nomination to the Maine Arts Awards.
  • Any Maine citizen, organization, business, school, or community that meets the eligibility requirements may be nominated for a Maine Arts Award.

The Maine Arts Awards will be an annual event recognizing the deep commitment and dedication that individuals and organizations have contributed to the advancement and strengthening of the arts in Maine.

A selection committee consisting of arts funders and state leaders will make the selections from among the nominations received.

The goal of the Arts Commission and ArtsEngageME is to raise awareness of the arts and the contributions of our sector through this program.  Please join us in celebrating those who have made a difference in your community or region through the arts, and make a nomination today!

Categories for nominations include

  • Lifetime Achievement in the Arts
  • Business
  • Arts Education
  • Community
  • Artist
  • Rural Organization
  • Philanthropist

For more information and to download the guidelines and nomination form please CLICK HERE.

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