Posts Tagged ‘Berwick Academy’

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Fall Into Dance

November 27, 2018

Community Dance Performance

One hundred and forty young dancers representing twelve schools and studios participated in the 4th annual Fall Into Dance performance at Thornton Academy on November 16. It was an amazing evening filled with energy, variety, and thought provoking dances. Students were confident, skilled, fun and serious. They danced with their hearts and it was clear that they were invested and passionate about their dancing. I was reminded over and over about how critical dance education is to the development of each young person. I was very impressed!

A great big THANK YOU to Emma Arnestam Campbell, Thornton Academy dance teacher, and Maine Arts Leadership Initiative Teacher Leader (MAL), for her time and energy behind helping to establish this yearly performance. And, thank you to the many dance educators, instructors, and parents who help make the performance possible. And, the students who have dance in their hearts!

The money raised goes directly to the Maine Arts Commission Dance Education Grant. This year, in spite of the snowy weather, the event raised $3,810.00. To date the dance education grant has awarded $17,421.00. Dancers Making a Difference contributing one year to this grant in addition to the funds raised by Fall Into Dance. All of this money goes directly to schools to create a dance education opportunity that works towards establishing dance education programs.

The grant will be available this winter, watch for the announcement in this blog and the weekly email to the arts education list-serv. (Consider subscribing to this blog on the right side of this page so you don’t miss the announcement).

To learn more about the Maine Arts Commission Dance Education grant please go to THIS LINK

Students from the following participated:

  • Berwick Academy
  • Brixham Danceworks
  • Community Dance Project
  • Dance Moves Maine
  • Drouin Dance Center
  • Exchange Street Studio
  • Miss Annabelle’s Dance
  • New England Dance Project
  • Portland Youth Dance
  • Steppin’ Out Dance Center
  • Studio for the Living Arts Dance Complex
  • Thornton Academy

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New Experiences – Raegan’s Story

October 15, 2018

“Winging It” by Raegan Russell

Raegan Russell is a visual art educator at Berwick Academy who was on sabbatical last year. I hope her story inspires you (and perhaps your students) to think about challenging yourself in a new and different way. This is her story…  

This post was written by Raegan Russell for the Berwick Today Magazine, Summer 2018 issue

“View from my window this morning. I’m off to my service site and have butterflies in my stomach. In addition to teaching the young women some printmaking, I’ll be learning their crafts, taking care of babies, pigs, and frogs, gardening, repairing buildings, and whatever else they ask…”

So began the first days of my sabbatical, for which I traveled in Southeast Asia for service, exploration, and art-making. Early on, I joked to my students and colleagues that I was taking a gap year, a semester abroad, or some version of the Eat, Pray, Love journey. For two months, I lived out of a backpack, stayed in hostels or homestays, and sought out local restaurants, cheap digs, and real communities. I traveled to Thailand, where I worked with women and children in crisis outside of Chiang Mai, then on to the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and later explored the bustling cities and stunning beauty of both the landscape and the people of Vietnam. The trip was an adventure for me, and even though I consider myself a well-seasoned traveler, I knew that it would throw me out of my comfort zone and challenge me.

“Highlights from this weekend’s trek to Ba Panden village in the hills north of Chiang Mai. Eva and I hiked 9km up to the village of the Lahu people. I swam in a cool waterfall, rode a raft down river, hiked through bamboo forests and rubber trees, and was kept up all night by a pack of crowing roosters…”

Throughout my trip, I had my sketchbook by my side. I drew the ancient Bodhi trees in Chiang Mai, the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and the motorbikes of Hanoi. As I was drawing Ta Prohm, a beautiful temple nearly overtaken by lush trees and moss, a tourist questioned me about why I didn’t just take a picture of it. I answered truthfully that “this is how I notice and experience things. I will remember the heat, the smells, the beauty, and even the discomfort of sitting here on this hard rock when I look back at this drawing.” The sketchbook drawings from my trip became the springboard for the work that I have taken on since I have been home and in my studio in South Berwick. As an educator who has always balanced teaching with studio practice, this sabbatical has given me the rare gift of time to develop new work. The subject matter of my new paintings has pulled closer to home, and the vibe of the work is exploratory and a truthful expression of how I experience the world.

“Yesterday, I made my way to Wat U Mong, where I found the oldest (?) Bodhi tree in Chiang Mai. It took some getting to, but I was able to paint for several hours directly from the tree. This was an experience I will not forget.”

Nearly two days after I took off from JFK on a cold evening in January that made me rethink my choice to travel light (with only a light down jacket that could roll up into the size of a softball), I landed in Thailand. I had specifically sought out a service opportunity that focused on women’s empowerment, and found the perfect project in the northern hills near Chiang Mai.

After a three-day orientation on Thai language and culture, I began my service project at the Wildflower Home, a shelter for single women and their children directed by two intrepid and compassionate women, sisters Anurak and Siripon. My mornings were spent minding the children in the daycare and teaching the mothers printmaking and artists’ books in the afternoons. The artists’ books were a hit, as many of the mothers transformed them into baby books and journals, quickly discovering that they could sell them with the many other handcrafts and goods they make.

All of this work was accomplished without a shared language between us; I learned a little Thai and they learned a little English. We became friends and laughed together while working. They welcomed me into their lives in ways that I never expected. Dao, a mother who headed the kitchen duties, taught me how to make Khao Soi, the region’s sublime dish of coconut milk, chili, and curry noodles over the wood fire stove in the home’s kitchen. The older children knew me as the art-auntie and would join in on our printmaking projects. As I left work every day, Fa, a young mother who has a beautiful daughter SaiSai, would shout to me: “Good-bye! See you tomorrow!” as I rode from the home on the back of Dao’s motorbike to catch the bus back to Chiang Mai.

“Sketchbook Sunday: a collection of sketchbook pages from over the last few months. My sketchbook has been a place for reflection, taking time to understand the world around me, and for gathering resources for work ahead. My sketchbook has always been by my side. It’s feeling kind of precious these days.”

I am lucky to have been able to maintain an art practice beside my work as a teacher. It has taken effort on my part, but it has been made possible with Berwick’s support and professional development opportunities; 20 years of conferences, workshops, and studio sessions have not only recharged me, they have broadened my perspective and provided me with a rich community of artists and art educators as friends and supporters.

My sabbatical has given me the opportunity to push pause in an extended fashion and appreciate the things that are important. I am grateful for this gift, and the adventure is far from over. I am excited to be planning a trip to Thailand over March Break 2019, where I will take students to engage in service projects like mine in Chiang Mai.

Closer to home, I was awarded a fellowship to paint on Monhegan Island in July. I dusted off the red backpack and packed up my paints to head to another place I had never been, where I let new experiences wash over me like the waves that wash over the dark grey rocks at the water’s edge.

Watch for a future blog post describing Raegan’s fellowship opportunity on Monhegan Island. 

www.raeganrussell.com/

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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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Tim Christensen – Teaching Artist

September 16, 2016

Berwick Academy Community Emotional Map Sculpture

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-37-10-pmTim Christensen, in his own words below provides an overview of a residency he did at Berwick Academy. Tim graduated from Berwick Academy in 1987 so returning to his community to collaborate on this unique project is pretty special! Congratulations to the community, Tim, and Raegen for carrying out this idea. The artwork is permanently displayed in the Commons building on the Berwick Academy campus.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-25-33-pmRaegen Russell (Berwick Academy art teacher) and I started talking about me coming to Berwick Academy, in South Berwick, at last year’s Haystack Maine Art Education Association fall conference. As the conversations continued, an idea began to form of making a community sculpture with the entire Berwick Academy (Pre-K to alumni to faculty to staff) in commemoration of the 225th anniversary of the founding of the school.

I started thinking about what was really being celebrated, what we mean when we say, “this school is 225 years old”. I figured out what was being celebrated was an unbroken chain of relationships that went all the way back to those three boys going to school in what is now on campus called, “the 1791 House”. Those relationships I wanted to document are the result of feelings and emotions of the community members for each other, and so could be recorded as abstract expressionist marks.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-24-45-pmI asked the artists to think about how it felt in their guts when they came up the hill in the morning to go to school, or were laying in bed at home at night and thinking about school. I asked them to make marks that seemed in concert with those feelings, and not to worry about drawing anything, to have no expectations except to show up and make marks.

They were each given a disk of dried porcelain which had been covered with black underglaze, and into the center of which I had drilled a hole, and gave them an etching tool of one sort or another. Most artists worked for 20 or so minutes, although some worked for 15-20 hours on their disk.

screen-shot-2016-09-11-at-7-25-22-pmThese were then fired and installed on 1/8″ brass rods into which I cut threads on either end, to allow them to screw  into a metal insert in maple orbs, which I turned on the lathe. The result looks like dandelion fluff, or atoms, or drawn circles.

It is basically a community self-portrait, in which every member has an equal voice. In my opinion, one interesting result was a school-wide conversation about the community’s feelings about itself, a self-assessment if you will. This of course invited the related questions of “where do we go, and what do we value as a community?”.

It was an honor to be part of this project.

Tim can be reached at timchristensenporcelain@gmail.com. Last Spring he worked at the Camden Rockport Middle School on an integrated unit. The blog post describing the residency is at THIS LINK. Tim is on the Maine Arts Commission Teaching Artist roster at THIS LINK. Tim is available for school and community artist residency’s. Tim is also a Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (MALI) Teaching Artist Leader – a new program established this year. The Teacher Leaders are listed at THIS LINK.

Embedded is a video that provides a close up look at this project.

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