Archive for the ‘Dance’ Category

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Dance Grant Funds

March 23, 2017

Another great opportunity to dance

On a chilly Saturday in March I traveled south to the beautiful Noble High School for the Fifth Annual Benefit Performance for Dancers Making a Difference, “Dancing To Make A Difference 2017”  Benefit.

Dancers Making A Difference was formed to allow studios and their performers the opportunity to come together and share their passion and talent in a non-competitive environment while working for the good of a local non-profit whose mission they support. In the last 4 years Dancers Making A Difference have raised almost $15,000. Proceeds raised have gone toward helping the following organizations. End 68 Hours of Hunger, Camp Kita, Friends In Action, and youth in the Maine Foster Care system. Initiatives for Maine Foster Care included Josh’s College Care Packages, Rose Mary’s Sacks of LOVE, and H.O.M.E. (Having Opportunities Means Everything).

Dancers Making A Difference is an official 501c, and this year the proceeds from the performance in early March are designated to the Maine Arts Commission’s Dance Education Grant Fund. The money raised was a little more than $5,000 and will be combined with the $3,500 raised in November at a dance performance held at Thornton Academy by a combined group of dance studios and school dance programs.  The grant will be announced in the near future and is earmarked for PK-12 school programs where no dance education is available to students.  

Last year the students in St. Agatha, MSAD #33 benefited from the first funding awarded and had dance educator/teaching artist John Morris spend a week in December at their two schools meeting with every student in grades K-12. You can read about the residencies in three blog posts dated

A great big thank you to the board of Dancers Making a Difference for their commitment to providing dance opportunities to learners of all ages. Through their hard work and supportive families and community members they have raised $6730 that will go towards the dance education grant administered by the Maine Arts Commission. Watch future blog posts with information on how your school/district can apply. You can check out their facebook page “Dancers Making a Difference, or email them at DMAD122014@gmail.com for more information.

Nicolette Wilford, Barbra Childress, Argy Nestor, Tricia Bates, Cheryl Arnold – board members of Dancers Making a Difference

 

This is the Senior Repetory Company from Brixham Danceworks, host of the Dancers Making a Difference benefit performance. Pictured are (back) Grace Wirling, Kianna Lynch, Alyssa Saltz, choreographer Cheryl Arnold, Emma Dodier, Sammi Pooler, Mikayla King, Gracie Lodge-McIntyre (front) Hannah Sparks, Maggie Childress, Holly Proulx, Sarina Arnold, Leah Sobotka and Maddie Letellier (lying down)

 

 

 

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Dancers Making a Difference

March 3, 2017

Dance performance March 4 – Noble High School

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Under the direction of Emma Campbell, the Thornton Academy dancers performed at the Southern Maine Regional Finals for Poetry Out Loud which took place on Tuesday, February 28 at Thornton Academy.

The dance education community is amazing. I’ve included information on the blog about the work that has taken place, starting in 2015 that raised funds to establish a dance education grant that the Maine Arts Commission administered. The first round provided money for a dance residency in MSAD #33. You can read all about it on the blog posts from February 9-11. Here is THE LINK to the first of the series.

Now we have an another opportunity to add to the fund and provide more grants, thanks to “Dancers Making a Difference”. The following dance programs will be participating in the performance: Alegria Dance Company, Belletete Ballet Company, Berwick Academy, Brixham Danceworks, Community Dance Project, Corinne’s School of Dance, Fusion Dance Academy, Joy of Dance, New England Dance Project, Portsmouth School of Ballet, Sole City Dance, SonDance Academy, Studio 109, Thornton Academy, and Miss Annabelle’s School of Dance.

Their 5th annual benefit performance takes place tomorrow night, March 4, 7:00 at Noble High School in North Berwick. The money raised will be added to the dance education fund which will provide grants for schools that do not offer dance education during the next year. A GREAT BIG THANK YOU to all of the dance programs who are making a difference in Maine dance education!

If you are interested in learning more about the dance education please email me argy.nestor@maine.gov.

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Another Kind of Blue

February 22, 2017

Britain’s got talent

Dance? Media arts? Theatre? Amazing….

 

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Mega Message from Suzanne

February 13, 2017

Teaching as a Craft

Skills, collaboration, support, and innovation –

Quality professional development for educators is characterized by the above areas demonstrating the understanding of introducing, reinforcing and supporting deeper understanding of knowledge and skills. Our profession is a craft.

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Mega-Regional Professional Development opportunities with the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative, in support with your Maine Arts Leadership Associations, are exponential in value for learning about best practices or expanding your skills to bring back to your school, colleagues, and classroom/studio/stage/rehearsal room.

This is educator to educator professional development – what you need, and when you need it.

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Suzanne Goulet

Yes, the next one is during a weekday – for some an in-service day. Yes, this sometimes means that you will be away from your students artists/performers for one day. And YES, you will be glad you did.  This is the catcher/pitcher conference on the mound – a time to come together, share, and grow. I always leave with gems that impact my students, my practice, my craft, immediately

Please join us, and consider asking someone to join you – for our profession, for your craft.

Looking forward to meeting you at the next Mega-Regional.

Thank you to Suzanne Goulet, MALI teacher leader and visual art teacher at Waterville Senior High School and Maine Art Education Association Teacher of the Year, for writing this blog post!

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Dance Moving

February 12, 2017

Watching dance move forward

During the last three days the blog posts have been about the dance education residency that happened during December 2016 in MSAD #33.  The “Hopes for the Future” funding came about thanks to the Thornton Academy dance program and seven dance programs in southern Maine. Almost $3,000 was awarded to MSAD #33 in Aroostook county where students in K-12 benefited from the expertise of a teaching dance artist. This year over $3,500 was raised by this same group of programs at a performance at Thornton Academy.

Next month another school will be having a performance and contributing the funds to the “Hopes for the Future” to provide dance education grants to other schools/districts. The Maine Arts Commission (MAC)will administer this grant. Please watch for the information on this blog and the weekly MAC arts ed list-serv.

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Photo from the NEFA site. Click on the tag line below for the information.

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The information below is from the New England Foundation for the Arts and is about how dance is moving forward.

In November 2016, New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) released a report by Metris Arts Consulting, entitled Moving Dance Forward: NEFA’s National Dance Project at 20 & Critical Field Trends. The report is located at http://www.nefa.org/moving-dance-forward.

The report is a comprehensive evaluation of the National Dance Project, incorporating new research about current needs of the dance field on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the program.

Major findings and trends of significance to the field include:

  • NDP’s intertwined support for creation and touring has provided robust and sustained support in an environment of increasing resource scarcity and rising costs; investing in artists to make work is regarded as the highest priority for the program.
  • Dance presenters credit NDP support with improving their reputation locally, their knowledge of dance, and enabling them to take risks by introducing new artists to their audiences.
  • Data reveals NDP has consistently supported artists of color, but focus group findings speak to continued systemic inequities that exclude some artists and ways NEFA and other grantmakers can further equitable and inclusive grant-making.
  • Artists tour to an average of six communities for each five-year period of NDP’s grantmaking from 1996-2016, revealing that tour subsidies are a high-impact bulwark to a field-wide decline in touring opportunities over the past two decades.
  • Touring is no longer motivated by economic considerations; instead, artists are primarily motivated to tour to connect with new audiences, and organizations cite mission-based commitments and dance’s ability to connect audiences to diverse cultures and ideas.
  • Artists and organizations value community engagement as an important component of touring and foresee deepening this practice over the next five to ten years.

The full report may be found online at www.nefa.org/moving-dance-forward.

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Dance Grant Series 3

February 11, 2017

Dance education funding – “Hopes for the Future”

This is the third of three blog posts included, February 9 – 11, describing the dance education residency that took place in December 2016 from a special grant called the “Hopes for the Future” funding. Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader and dance educator from Thornton Academy Emma Campbell collaborated and planted a seed and it grew into a dance education opportunity for Maine students. Thank you to John Morris, teaching artist and dancer for contributing this post. He describes the work that he did in MSAD #33 with the grant funding. Please note: funding will be available again during 2017. Please watch the blog and the Maine Arts Commission arts education list-serv for information.

A Teaching Artist’s Perspective

John Morris

John Morris

Thanks to a dance grant created by the Thornton Academy Dance Program and the Maine Arts Commission, in December of 2016 I conducted a week-long arts residency for MSAD #33, in Northern Aroostook County. My approach in working with students in dance is creative, student-centered and standards-based. I give students foundational movement tools to invent and explore their own movement, and I guide them through the process of making their own dances.

In collaboration with visual arts teacher Theresa Cerceo, I worked with a group of middle and high school students, and with S.L.A.M.!, the high school arts advocacy group directed by Ms. Cerceo, to create dances based on a theme of identity and community. The dances were shared during an end of week holiday performance put on at Wisdom Middle/High School.

img_4561During the week, I also worked with music classes at the elementary school in the district. Along with music teacher Charles Michaud, we explored connections between the elements of music and dance. In addition, I worked with Ms. Cerceo’s visual arts classes to explore the same theme of identity and community.

It was a full week working with every grade level, from Pre-K through grade six, to explore their class content in movement. The students created dances based on poems and visual art works they had made individually and as a group in the weeks before the residency. Their dances incorporated the elements of dance movement, including use of different shapes, change of speeds, and variation of high, middle and low levels. We worked together to structure their dances with clear beginnings, middles and endings. We also addressed the crucial life skills of collaborating with others, building confidence, and evaluating work – all in one class session.

screen-shot-2016-12-07-at-1-51-58-pmI encountered students in the elementary school at every age and developmental level who were eager to move, explore, and make connections to other content areas, including music, visual art and language arts. They were curious, inventive, and open to exploring the arts in a structured way to express their thoughts and feelings.

The middle and high school students, having more time together, were able to more deeply explore the dynamics of working collaboratively, the process of making artistic choices, and polishing artistic work for performance.

The week went by in a blur, and before I knew it, the performance (a full house!) was over, and I was making the long drive toward southern Maine. I felt both satisfied and inspired by the students’ work. What made this residency so successful? Three factors, which I believe are important for the success of any arts residency in the schools, stood out.

Planning and prep work in collaboration with the teacher

img_4610 Ms. Cerceo and I were in contact long before the residency began, brainstorming ideas together using a shared Google Doc that allowed us to work around our busy schedules. We arrived at a theme (identity and community) that would be timely for her students to explore in visual art and writing, and that I could work with easily in dance.

As the residency drew closer, we continued to share documents, trade emails, and supplement with a few timely online conference calls. Ms. Cerceo articulated her plan for exploring the theme with her students before my arrival. I shared an outline of how I would approach the theme in movement based on her work and the student samples she posted online. This step was critical, helping me to be ready with a flexible plan for each class, and know what to expect when I walked into each classroom.

Full support of the school administration

img_4641Ms. Cerceo maintained regular contact with her administrators about our plans. As a visiting teaching artist, it was both reassuring and freeing for me to know that I had their support. I felt free to fully engage with the students in the creative process of dance-making.

The administrators introduced themselves and welcomed me to their schools. The superintendent of schools in the district sat down with me early one morning before classes began to talk about the residency. The teachers I met expressed their support for the project, and turned out in force for the performance on Friday night.

 

Classroom culture

img_4570I could tell that the students were used to focusing on the process of structured creative exploration in their classes. Also, because their teachers had prepared them for my visit, they were excited and positive about our working together. One fourth grade student even sent me a video in advance, inviting me to create a dance with her!

This expectant, growth-oriented mindset set the tone for our time together, and was supported by the collaborative planning Ms. Cerceo and I did beforehand. The connections she and I found between our ways of working helped her to guide the students with confidence that my work with them would integrate with their classwork, and deepen their connections to the arts.

Thank you John Morris for providing this blog post and the work that you did before and during the dance education residency in MSAD #33. I am sure that the learning that you provided will be felt for the lifetime of those involved.

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Dance Grant Series 2

February 10, 2017

Dance education funding – “Hopes for the Future”

This is the second of three blog posts that will be included, February 9 – 11, describing the dance education residency that took place in December 2016 from a special grant called the “Hopes for the Future” funding. Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teacher Leader and dance educator from Thornton Academy Emma Campbell collaborated and planted a seed and it grew into a dance education opportunity for Maine students. Please note: funding will be available again during 2017. Please watch the blog and the Maine Arts Commission arts education list-serv for information. Thank you to Theresa Cerceo and Charles Michaud for their contributions to this blog post.

img_4626On a chilly Friday night in early December the Wisdom Middle / High School Arts Faculty hosted the Holiday Night of the Arts. The performance was very well attended with the Wisdom High School cafeteria being filled nearly to capacity. The audience was treated to a variety of holiday songs, new and old. In addition, SLAM!, the Student Leadership in the Arts Movement, Wisdom’s student led arts advocacy group, created a performance art piece as a form of arts advocacy. The evening included the Pioneer Band, solo performances,  student artwork, and for the first time ever, thanks to the Teaching Artist Dance Grant from the Maine Arts Commission and the Thornton Academy dance program, two dance performances under the direction of teaching artist, John Morris. The students created dance performances were the result of a week-long residency with Mr. Morris. Students worked with Mr. Morris & art educator Ms. Theresa Cerceo to create original dance pieces based on students’ poems around the theme of identity & community.

img_4607Throughout the week, John worked with two groups of high school students, S.L.A.M.! and a volunteer group of 8 students that became known as, The Butterfly Group. The students worked with John, first learning basic techniques, warm ups and then exploring concepts around identity. S.L.A.M.! used a poem about artistic process and struggle written by member, Jasmine DeMoranville, as inspiration for exploring personal expression and collaboration. The Butterfly Group took time to write “I am…” poems and then, individually created movements in response to their writing. Through much planning; reflection, critique and practice, the students worked with John to use their individual work and build a unified dance that expressed their interdependence as a community.

Student comments

“This work was more intense then I thought it would be and I learned more about physical motion then I thought I would.  It opened my eyes to a new medium of expression that I never explored before. SLAM!” ~ Daley

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John Morris

“The experience last week was beyond words. It actually taught me that any idea can be turned into something great and to never give up, no matter how stupid it may seem. It also taught me that there can be different interpretations to your idea that may contribute to other great ideas. Yes, I was shy because that shell of me is still not gone but I think this experience finally cracked my shell a bit and I know that SLAM! is capable of cracking and breaking my shell little by little. This dance residency helped me think of new ideas for SLAM!. What I want to do with SLAM (since it is my first and final year)  is to have fun and really advocate for art (music, dance, art, drama) in the community and I think the things that happened (the week of the dance residency)  is really going to help me throughout the entire year with my ideas because I have learned that no idea is going to go wasted and it could trigger other ideas!”  ~ Kelly

“As the author of the poem, it was an incredible experience to see and be a part of the process of transforming my poetry into another form of art. Watching (other students) interpret my work deeply and out loud is something I’ve never really had before. Seeing the thought process and the thoughts that it instilled was amazing. Then performing it was really incredible.” ~ Jasmine

img_4639In addition to the work Mr. Morris did at the Wisdom Middle/High School, he had a full week, teaching in the elementary visual art and music classes as well. Along with Mr. Charles Michaud, John worked with general music classes, using dance to teach music elements.  The work done in the Ms. Cerceo’s  classroom was integrated with visual art lessons that were implemented before Mr. Morris’ arrival, around the theme of individual and community identity. Under John’s direction, students used dance to further explore their compositions as well as artistic purpose and communication. These dances included individual, small group and whole class collaboration.

 

Reflections from grade 5 students:

  • “I learned to personify a painting (using elements; pattern, repetition, etc.).”
  • “There are more categories of dance than I thought.”
  • “Dances need cooperation & teamwork.”
  • “You can see a painting and then dance it out!”
  • “I figured out that movement is a type of beautiful art.”
Theresa Cerceo and Charles Michaud

Theresa Cerceo and Charles Michaud

“As arts educators, our goals are centered around the students. We are here to give our learners a place to be self directed, a place to explore and express themselves and their emotions, and a community where their differences are strengths instead of mistakes. Being able to include dance into our arts program at MSAD #33 has expanded our the students’ understanding of arts and arts education and has increased our knowledge base as educators.” ~ Theresa Cerceo and Charles Michaud

Highlights

This video provides highlights of the dance education residency. Thank you to Theresa for creating it! https://vimeo.com/198665764

February 9-11 are the blog posts about the dance education residency in MSAD #33. If you have questions please don’t hesitate to contact me at argy.nestor@maine.gov.

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