Archive for the ‘Dance’ Category

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Hike Through History

June 25, 2019

South Berwick

In May I was invited to the Hamilton House and Vaughn Woods in South Berwick for the 25th anniversary of Hike Through History. It’s an annual teaching and learning opportunity in RSU #35 that continues to be a success due to the commitment of many educators and volunteers. It is usually held in town so it was a treat to have it in such a beautiful woodsy setting.

Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leaders and Music Educators Kate Smith and Kris Bisson collaborated in teaching traditional dances and music. First they taught the 8th grade students from Marshwood Middle School several dance steps and they turned around and taught the elementary students. In addition, they also taught a few modern dances. Melanie Crowe, Marshwood Middle School art teacher and MALI Teacher Leader worked with students teaching them techniques and they turned around and taught elementary students. Printmaking, weaving, painting on stone and poetry. I was so impressed with the level of engagement of the 500 students who visited and provided the instruction. And, the hundreds of volunteers and parents. It was simply wonderful – a real community collaboration.

All of the photos in the blog post were taken at the two stations where Kris, Kate and Melanie were.

The information below was provided by Julia Einstein, Education Program Coordinator for Historic New England, who plays an integral part in the success of the Hike Through History.

For this year’s Hike, it was all about character studies—and for the grade eight students to look at each person, or family, as a character you can “inhabit” after you have researched the parts of their life. As a result, the student is able to enjoy this way of learning as he/she  steps into the history of the people and of this place that was once the center of the town of South Berwick. This location at Hamilton House (built in 1785) and Vaughn Woods tells the story of the native people, first settlers, the start of America, and how we changed from an agricultural to an industrial nation. Inventiveness and inventions through these times, from a shipbuilding, navigation on water, and early photography.

It was a pleasure for me to be able to write the content for the student’s work in the classroom, as well as to mentor two grade eight classes for this special, new Hike. I, along with a committee of content writers, each put together our topic to include main Ideas, characters to include, vocabulary, possible Activities, and sources for additional Research.

Here’s a brief overview of what I put together:

Hamilton House Walk Through

Topic:  Hamilton House’s long, long, life — three families over 236 years! — and the different ways they lived.

Main Ideas: Did you ever “read” a house? If we learn to “read” the details left behind, a house can tell stories of the people who lived there long ago!  The Hamilton House contains lots of history, as there were three owners, over different centuries.

Possible Activities: A student tour of the first floor of the Hamilton House–a guided walk into 1785 and walk out in 1898 in which the 8th grade students give the elementary visitors the prompts to observe, notice details, and ask questions. Also, create activities or experiences to share the lives of the three different families who lived there.  Why were they there?  What did they value about the house and land?

Inspired by History: Elise Tyson & Sarah Orne Jewett

Topic: Historical preservation, Literary and Visual Arts in the 19th century

Main Ideas: What is “inspiration”? A beautiful, historical place like the Hamilton House can give us inspiration! Elise Tyson would have taken advantage of the recent invention of a (more) portable box camera to move around and photograph outside and inside the Hamilton House. One is able to look into her photographs to study the early days of film photography. It was very rare for women to be photographers during this era! Sarah Orne Jewett would have used her portable wicker writing box to write on site. One is able to read her fiction (The Tory Lover) and non-fiction (River Driftwood) based upon the landscape and characters of the Hamilton House, as seen in these excerpts:
River Driftwood She described Hamilton House in 1881 as being “like a glimpse of sunshiny, idle Italy: the sparkling river and the blue sky, the wide green shores and the great gray house, with its two hall doors standing wide open, the lilacs in bloom and no noise or hurry, – a quiet place, that the destroying left hand of progress had failed to touch.”
The Tory Lover “As for Colonel Hamilton, the host,” she wrote, “a strong-looking, bright-colored man in the middle thirties, the softness of a suit of brown, and his own hair well dressed and powdered, did not lessen a certain hardness in his face, a grave determination, and maturity of appearance far beyond the due of his years. Hamilton had easily enough won the place of chief shipping merchant and prince of money-makers in that respectable group, and until these dark days of war almost every venture by land or sea had added to his fortunes. The noble house that he had built was still new enough to be the chief show and glory of a rich provincial neighborhood.” Due to these two friends’ inspiration and love of history, we are now lucky enough to be able to learn about and experience this beautiful house and grounds.

It was also an wonderful opportunity for me to expand upon a school program that is already in place for grade three students of Central School, “Amoungst Friends, Sarah Orne Jewett and her Circle.”  This circle expanded to her friends Emily and Elise Tyson (later Elise Tyson Vaughn and her husband Henry Vaughn), who she convinced to purchase and restore the house to it’s Hamilton era glory–and in the process to preserve history.  In a visit to all third grade classrooms, I introduced the students to the Hamilton House and guided the students to make a Captain’s Log. When the students visited the house, they were guided to make an observation, both inside and outside in the garden, and record in his/her log, by writing & through sketching. We also played a Maritime Trade Game–with a partner, the students used a World  Map to find the source, the countries from which  “raw” materials brought back to South Berwick by Jonathan Hamilton’s ships. It was a ton of fun–a great way to prepare for the special upcoming Hike.

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Dancing

June 20, 2019

Opportunity to dance in June and July

Chrissy Fowler is one busy person – dancing into and throughout the summer. In fact, Chrissy is all about dancing! She spent the weekend of June 15, 16, and 17 at the Maine Fiddle Camp playing music, listening to more music, dancing, singing, laughing, eating tasty food, watching the snapping turtles, admiring the flora & fauna, and more. Chrissy is a ball of energy!

Below is a schedule of many other fun dancing and music events scheduled.

Saturday, June 22: BAR HARBOR – Calling a Contra Dance with Big Moose at Jesup Library, 6:30 p.m. First house is a community dance for all ages, especially families. Info: 288- 4245.

Saturday, June 29: BANGOR – Calling a Contra Dance with Spintuition at the UU Church on Park St. 7:00 p.m. intro, 7:30 dance. Info: bangorcontra.org

Friday, July 5: BELFAST – Calling the Belfast Flying Shoes (BFS) Community Dance with the All-Comers Band, 6:30 p.m. Calling the BFS Contras with Riptide, 8:00 p.m. Info: belfastflyingshoes.org.

Saturday, July 6: VINALHAVEN – Calling an outdoor Community Contra Dance with Velodipede and the Vinalhaven All Stars (Julia Plumb, Baron Collins-Hill, plus community musicians sitting in). Dancing in the Carver harbor parking lot, Main St., in downtown Vinalhaven, 6:30 p.m., free! Donations accepted, to benefit Vinalhaven Partners in Island Education. (Rain location: Vinalhaven School, 21 Arcola Lane). Transportation info: maine.gov/mdot/ferry/vinalhaven/.
 
Saturday, July 11: GREAT CRANBERRY ISLAND – Calling a Community Contra Dance with Pixie Lauer, Tom Judge, Susan Groce, Nick Appolonio, and others, at the Longfellow School, to benefit the Great Cranberry Island Historical Society. Info: gcihs.org.
Friday, July 12: ISLESBORO – Calling a Community Contra Dance with Bennett Konesni and Benjamin Fosses at the Islesboro Historical Society, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Get to Islesboro on the MDOT ferry, possible Quicksilver back to the mainland after the dance (check with Chrissy for list & availability). Info: islesborohistorical.org/.
Sunday, July 14: BAYSIDE – Calling a Community Contra Dance with Bluebird at the Bayside Community Hall at 813 Shore Road in Northport, 7:00 p.m. workshop, 7:30 p.m. dance. Info: baysidearts.org.
Saturday, July 27 (rain date July 28): Calling a Community Contra Dance with Lisa Newcomb, with music by the Don Roy Trio (Don & Cindy Roy were awarded the 2018 NEA Heritage Arts Fellowship – wow)!, 4:00 p.m. at City Park in Belfast. Part of the Belfast Flying Shoes “Dancing in the Park” outdoor dance series. Info: belfastflyingshoes.org/dancing-in-the-park/.
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In Today’s News

May 21, 2019

Hike Through History with Kate and Kris

I love it when I hear about teachers who are collaborating to provide learning that involves multiple grade levels. Most schools are divided by grade or age level yet in life – family, church, community groups – people are almost always together with all ages.

When Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leaders Kate Smith and Kris Bisson were planning curriculum together for the annual Hike Through History for their students, I wasn’t surprised when they told me about their ideas to connect their students through dance. Kris teaches at Marshwood Middle School and Kate teaches at Central School – both are part of MSAD35, South Berwick.

Today’s news article, which includes video footage, is from seacoastonline.com and documents a unit that has been going on for a very long time in the district. In fact, this year Hike Through History turns 25!

From the article

Music and choral teacher Kris Bisson said, “Kate Smith and I designed a curriculum about music and its link to colonial times. So our focus is about dances then and now; it wasn’t just a source of physical enjoyment, but also a chance to be with your neighbors and your town community.”

On the lawn of Central School, eighth-graders worked recently with second-grade students showing them folk dances people did in the early 1800s as music sifted through the air. The dances they have chosen are authentic, matching how people actually danced in Colonial days in South Berwick and surrounding towns. One person called out the dance on a microphone. “Heel and toe, heal and toe, slide, swing your partner!” The eighth-grade students decided to plan this year’s hike around a wedding ceremony so they could show children the old-time dances as well as a few modern dances to demonstrate similarities from the past to the present. The Heal and Toe Polka, Chimes of Dunkirk, the Twist or the Macarena all have commonalities.

You can read the entire article AND see video footage of a rehearsal. It is so fun to watch!

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Sustainability Festival

May 11, 2019

Sweet Tree Arts

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Teaching Artist Professional Development Workshop

April 23, 2019

Space limited

The Arts Commission is providing a one-day professional development workshop for Maine Teaching Artists.
Monday 17 June 2019
8:45 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Only 20 spots available – REGISTER TODAY
Viles Mansion/Governor Samuel Cony House, 71 Stone Street, Augusta.
$25.00. Registration is required.
Purpose
The workshop is focused on the role and benefits of a teaching artist. We will address how to structure and market a residency as well as tips for communicating and collaborating teachers,  administrators, and community arts representatives. The workshop will include resources and techniques on applying your expertise as an artist to the structure of your work as a teaching artist including communication tips, connecting standards and assessments in your lessons, promotional information, funding opportunities, messaging and much more.
Outcomes
  • Information on applying your expertise as an artist to the structuring of your lessons and residencies.
  • Hands-on experience in relating the learning standards and assessments to your work.
  • Participation in sessions that are planned to fit your specific needs as a teaching artist.
  • Promoting yourself and your work as a teaching artist
Workshop Presenters
  • Tom Luther – Teaching Artist, Musician, Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teaching Artist Leader
  • Lindsay Pinchbeck – Arts Educator, Founder and Director Sweetland School, Hope
  • Kate Smith – Elementary music educator, Central School, South Berwick
Please note: To be eligible to apply for the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist Roster teaching artists must attend the one-day workshop.
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Maranacook Middle School

April 11, 2019

Dance Education grant

During the 2018-19 two schools in two different districts were the recipients of the Dance Education grant awarded by the Maine Arts Commission (MAC). Freeport High School and Maranacook Middle School created amazing units that impacted hundreds of students in Grades K-12. Freeport High School was highlighted in yesterday’s blog post with a description of the dance education opportunity that was provided during this school year.

G/T teacher Pat Godin, Teaching Artist Nancy Salmon, Visual Art Teacher Hope Lord

This blog post describes the dance education program that took place at Maranacook Middle School this school year. It is wonderful to see what occurred when teaching artist Nancy Salmon, art educator Hope Lord, and gifted and talented teacher Pat Godin collaborated! This is a great example of learning in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math).

Thank you to Hope and Pat for providing the plethora of information for this post – the story and resources!

DESCRIPTION FROM HOPE

My original idea was to have students create masks and then have them add lights with Little Bits electronics. However, after collaborating with Pat, we decided to teach the students about light circuits and how to soldier their own circuits. This allowed us to integrate science with the electricity and engineering with the design process. For math we introduced proportions as we discuss the features of the face and how to construct the masks and giving students the choice to increase the proportions of the face to make their mask more visible to the audience. We also provided students a variety of mask making materials, including a new medium called Thibra.  This is a thermoplastic sculptable material that costume designers and special affect artists use in designing masks and costumes. The students used the heat gun to soften the material and then molded it around sculptural pieces that were added to their masks.  

Students performing at the Arts Night Celebration

We showed the students examples of dance groups who performed in the dark with lights and the students wanted to incorporate black lights and glow in the dark paints in their masks and dance. As our dance choreography progressed, the students and Nancy determined which segment of the dance would be performed with lights on and which segment would be performed in the dark with black lights. 

The students started planning their masks with a group brainstorming activity called “brainwriting” where they all charted ideas of how they could represent themselves and their role in our school community. Students could add to other students’ ideas or write new ideas. Then students charted 12-15 ideas to help them plan their mask theme. 

The individual and small group dances came about through the students exploration of dance movement as a means of communication. Nancy helped the students experiment with movement and determine which movements could help them express their role and what their mask was communicating. For example, one student had a camera on her mask because she spends a lot of time taking photographs. She incorporated gestures that communicated someone taking photos. Next, the students worked in small groups and collaborated to create a dance routine that incorporated each of the students individual dance movements.

Nancy, Pat, and I also wanted to have the students end the dance as a community with the group dance. Our goal was for the dance to communicate that even though we all have individual interests and perceived roles, we are one school community.

Nancy introduced the dance collaboration project before we performed our dance since Pat and I were back stage with the students waiting to dance. We did not provide an audience handout because our dance was part of our Arts Night Celebration and listed in the program given to parents. The focus of the entire night was to advocate, educate, support, and celebrate the arts. That is why we chose this event to have the students perform their collaborative mask/dance performance. We feel our project communicated the value of teacher collaboration across content areas, including the Arts.

DANCE, VISUAL ARTS, SCIENCE STANDARDS

MLR Dance standards: A.Dance Literacy, B.Creation/Performance/Expression, and E.Visual and Performing Arts

NCAS:CR2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.

CR3: Refine and complete artistic work.

Pr5:Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation.

Next Gen Science Stds. ETS:1, 2, 3, & 4 Engineering and Design

IMPACT OF SCHOOLING ON CREATIVITY

Research on this phenomenon is confirmed by Kyung Hee Kim. Kyung is a professor of Innovation & Creativity at the College of William & Mary.

In the last 20 years, children have become less emotionally expressive, less energetic, less talkative and verbally expressive, less humorous, less imaginative, less unconventional, less lively and passionate, less perceptive, less apt to connect seemingly irrelevant things, less synthesizing, and less likely to see things from a different angle (Kim, 2011).

BIBLIOGRAPHY SOURCES

Located at THIS LINK.

RESOURCES

Gem Activity

Thinking Matrix

Design Plan Sheet 

VIDEOS

Learning to solder – I DID IT!

Dance Practice Take II

The Dance Education grant is the only MAC grant that is a grass-roots effort grant. Several dance studios and two high school dance programs have a fund raiser each November. The money raised is what funds the dance education grant at the Commission. Without the dedication and commitment of many educators, dancers, parents, and community members this grant would not be possible. Special thank you to Thornton Academy Dance Educator Emma Arenstam Campbell for her contributions to being instrumental in making the Dance Education grant possible.

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Dancing in Freeport

April 10, 2019

Learners at the center of their learning

During the 2018-19 two schools in two different districts were the recipients of the Dance Education grant awarded by the Maine Arts Commission (MAC). Freeport High School and Maranacook Middle School created amazing units that impacted hundreds of students in Grades K-12.

Collaborators – Teaching Artist Nancy Salmon and Freeport High School Theater teacher Natalie Safely

The Dance Education grant is the only MAC grant that is a grass-roots effort grant. Several dance studios and two high school dance programs have a fund raiser each November. The money raised is what funds the dance education grant at the Commission. Without the dedication and commitment of many educators, dancers, parents, and community members this grant would not be possible. Special thank you to Thornton Academy Dance Educator Emma Arenstam Campbell for her contributions to being instrumental in making the Dance Education grant possible.

This blog post describes the dance education program that took place in Freeport this year. It is truly amazing to see what occurred when a teaching artist and an arts educator collaborate!

Natalie Safley is the theater arts director at Freeport High School but I learned quickly that she is much more than that. Natalie is a connector, an integrative thinker, a big picture and detailed person AND most importantly she “gets education for high school students”! Nancy Salmon is a dance educator and teaching artist who has worked with students and teachers of all ages for many years. Natalie and Nancy put their heads together and created a dance education opportunity for Freeport High School students that would touch younger students in RSU5 and introduce them to possibilities in dance.

FOUNDATIONAL STEPS

Workshop with grade 2 students following performance

Ms. Safley reached out to all RSU 5 elementary teachers for suggestions on source material as a beginning step in this performance process. A kindergarten teacher suggested the books by Kobi Yamada. Once Safley read each of the books, she new that would be the perfect starting point. Each book has a central theme: What do you do with a problem? What do you do with an idea? What do you do chance?.  In small groups the high school students first read the books on their own and pulled out lines and visual images that they connected with in each of the stories.  Then they made physical representations of the lines they pulled out from the text.  It was important throughout the process to have the students connect the text with a physical action. From there students continued working with the texts as well as writing their own pieces related to each of the respective teams. Finally, the students individually created a slide show of images that represented one of the three themes. The images came together and students physicalized them in smaller groups. The final performance had parts from all of the activities. Since the final piece was derived from the students’ own work they were more invested and committed throughout.

CLASS WORK

  • The work took place in the Theatre I class. Days 1-3 took place earlier in the semester when Natalie focused on Movement and the Actor. Nancy provided her instruction on establishing a performance vocabulary. Natalie continued to emphasize this vocabulary throughout the semester. This allowed Nancy to come in during the final project and begin working on the final dance elements immediately; building off the foundational knowledge established early in the semester. The culmination was students conducting a hands-on workshop with the elementary students to teach them the steps needed to perform the dance movement that was performed within the context of the show. Working with the elementary students in this capacity illustrated the high school students’ proficiency with dance literacy disseminated throughout the project.
  • Dance was incorporated into the work in a variety of ways. The work began with an introduction to dance movement warm-up and the elements that are common to all dance and movement of any kind as developed and described by Rudolf Laban (Body, Energy, Space, Time or BEST). Students view a demonstration by KQED Art School on Youtube and talked about the Elements. KQED includes a 5th element – Action, which was discussed but did not include further in our work. Students and teachers discussed where dance movement could be included in the scripts or the production to best support or enhance the message. The opening entrance used strong, quick and direct movement introducing each student and getting everyone on stage. In contrast a small cadre of students were the “Chance Butterfly Brigade” in the 3rd section, using quick, light and indirect movement illustrating the notion fleeting chances that one needs to grab. Pathways were explored as well as the notion of repetitive movement in order to create a background of indecision, decision, action, disappointment, success. Viewing another video students learned a specific lift that required trust, timing, strength, and cooperation to make a person “fly”. Several students were particularly successful at embodying the intention of their character by understanding and using the dance elements.

Nancy working with students on movement

LEARNING/OUTCOMES

The students learned…

  • to work as an ensemble, yet individualize the subtext of their characters.
  • to apply and embody vocabulary for dance literacy and devised theatre.
  • a different approach to analyzing a text for performance.
  • about using their bodies to inform the text.
  • that dance is more than memorized steps.
  • to write a story for performance.
  • student voices – benefits, what are they gaining? How might they transfer their learning to real world situations?

QUOTES FROM STUDENT SURVEYS

  • Dance is more than just traditional dancing to movements. It can be more simple and unique.
  • I’m really proud that we accomplished the lift during the last section of the play because the 2nd graders said that they really enjoyed it and loved that section of the play.
  • I am most proud of accomplishing my different facial expressions. I feel that some of my lines in the play make me have to give a lot of emotion and doing that I need a lot of different facial expressions.
  • The synchronization between everyone in the class and how even when we might have made mistakes, we just rolled with it.

WHAT ADMINISTRATORS SAID

  • Thank you so much for sharing this with the second grade. We were very impressed with the way that your students interacted with the younger kids. It made my heart warm watching our students faces in awe of your kids!
  • Thank you SO much for bringing your incredible Kobe Yamada performance to Pownal! The younger kids were in awe by your moves (especially when you made each other fly!), and the older kids were so inspired by how well you depicted the three texts! At a discussion afterwards one of my students said “I want to do what they were doing one day.” Thank you for being such great role models to the kids! We hope you will reach out with any other opportunities for us to see your work again!

LINK TO ONE OF THE PERFORMANCE VIDEOS

LINK TO ONE OF THE WORKSHOPS

To learn more about the MAC Dance Education Grant program Please CLICK HERE

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