Posts Tagged ‘Oxford Hills’

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Careers in Art Series

June 30, 2019

Science, Nature and Drawing

The final workshop in the Careers in Art Series for Kids, Science, Nature & Drawing will be led by Paula Curtis-Everett at The Folk Art Studio at Fiber and Vine, 402 Main Street in Norway on Wednesday, August 14th. This workshop series aims to open pathways for kids to consider the visual arts and making as a worthwhile activity and even imagine a dream that becomes a career one day. 

Workshop Description: Exploring nature with pencil and paper is fun. Imagine finding an apple with a hole in it: Who lives in there and why? How did they get there? Or imagine finding tracks in the snow. Who made the tracks and where were they going? Draw a picture of what you have seen, then try to figure out the story. Today we will look at nature’s story, draw a sketch of what we see, and figure out what is happening. Bring your curiosity, imagination, and wonder. All other supplies will be provided.

Paula Curtis-Everett, Maine Master Naturalist, has always had a love for drawing and a curiosity for what she sees. She loves researching the “why” and “what” of what she finds in nature. Paula is a retired registered nurse who worked as a school nurse as well as a geriatric nurse.

The Western Maine Art Group, The Folk Art Studio, and Fiber & Vine have partnered to bring this workshop series to the Oxford Hills. Through a generous grant from The Norway Savings Bank, Oxford Credit Union, the Rotary Club and an anonymous donor, this final workshop will be offered at a reduced rate of $15. Workshops are currently presented for two age groups: 10 am – noon for children ages 6 – 8 and 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm for children ages 9 and up.  For this workshop, please register by August 7th. Space is limited. Materials and snacks are included. For information and registration, contact fiberandvine.com.

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Who Are They? Oxford Hills Region Part 5

March 29, 2018

Oxford Hills Music and Performing Arts Association (OHMPAA)

This blog post is part of a series that aims to bring awareness to the Maine Arts Ed blog readers about the many visual and performing arts venues and educational opportunities in the Oxford Hills. The Oxford Hills Region of Maine is a perfect setting for the arts as it is centrally located where the rolling foothills of the White Mountains and beautiful lakes regions intersect. Located 45 miles north of Portland, 35 miles east of New Hampshire, and 20 miles west of Lewiston-Auburn, the region hosts multiple year-round opportunities for learners of all ages and a thriving arts community. The Oxford Hills School District (SAD17) is Maine’s largest school district in geographic area, with nine community schools, a regional middle school, a comprehensive high school and the Streaked Mountain School, an alternative school for high school students. The Oxford Hills include the towns of Buckfield, Harrison, Hartford, Hebron, Mechanic Falls, Norway, Otisfield, Oxford, Paris, Poland, Sumner, Waterford and West Paris. A great big THANKS to Diana Arcadipone for writing this series of posts.

Dan and Shirli Allen founded OHMPAA in 1985 because they saw a need for a local venue for music, dance and theater in the Oxford Hills. At that time, the primary outlet for the performing arts was for students at the local high school. Except for Ragtag in Bethel, adults had no real performance opportunities. “Back then, we were bare bones and used the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School stage and any other place we could find,” says Jeff Orwig, member (and institutional memory) of the advisory board since the early 1990s. The early group performed works in the public domain and musical reviews because the royalty fees were minimal.

In early days, ticket sales covered all expenses: costumes, musicians, sets, props, and publicity. It has always been important to the group to produce shows that are affordable to the community. Early audiences of 50-75 enjoyed shows at a variety of locations. A local appliance store saved boxes for the sets and OHMPAA was able to produce at least one performance each year. When the high school stage was not available, OHMPAA performed in their then home at Paris Hill Academy.

In 2002, OHMPAA started doing shows in the Norway Grange #45, located at 15 Whitman Street in Norway, ME.  Jeff says “We felt like a moving company because we were doing winter shows at the Grange and summer shows at the Academy.” They eventually made an agreement with the Grange that it could become their home. Finally able to settle into a permanent space, OHMPAA upgraded the electrical service, built an extension onto the stage, and made numerous improvements. Today, OHMPAA cherishes this fine historic building and cares for it as if it was its own.

One pivotal display of community support was when local bookseller Erica Jed from Books N Things in Norway became a ticket agent as a courtesy to OHMPAA. She sold tickets for the past 12 years until recently when she sold the store. Thankfully, the new bookseller, Adrienne Cote, is opening The Tribune, and will honor this tradition. According to Jeff Orwig, this community gift has helped to expand ticket sales to the current capacity of 100 seats.

Jenny Adams, President of the Advisory Board, states the mission of the organization: OHMPAA is dedicated to the presentation of quality entertainment on a regular basis featuring the talents of local residents. On January 1, 2009, OHMPAA became a program of Norway Maine Opera House Corporation which is a 501(c)(3) organization. Today, the advisory board numbers 15 and represents a blend of performers, business and community leaders and audience advocates. Regulations have become more complex and members need to be able to navigate a wide array of complex issues however in the early days, board members were a group of artists who did everything. The board still chooses all of the programming and runs this non-profit organization as a break-even business.

Programming usually consists of two full length main stage shows — most often a play in June and a musical in November — 8 performances each. They also produce “extras” which are training workshops like Audition Workshop and Theater 101, which draw from a panel of local experts: Sally Jones of Norway (former teacher at OHCHS), Ethan Wright of Buckfield (teaches Music at Buckfield HS), Jamie Swenson of Portland and Kristen Short of Norway.

The program below is set for the 2018 season. Tickets sell from $8 to $12 per show and can also be purchased at the door or at The Tribune bookstore. OHMPAA accepts proposals from new directors for full length shows, one acts and children’s theater. The selection process takes place in the summer and two shows, plus extras, are chosen for the subsequent season.  TO LEARN MORE. For GENERAL INFORMATION or MORE INFORMATION. Or email OHMPAA@gmail.com.

  • June 14-24              Noises Off  A farce by Michael Frayne
  • July 28                     This is what Happened; Backstage Stories compiled by Sally Jones
  • November 8-18       Little Shop of Horrors by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman
  • December 6-9         The Gift of the Magi  and The Happy Prince in four area churches NO CHARGE
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Who Are They? Oxford Hills Region Part 3

March 15, 2018

Dance Studios

This blog post is the third of a series that aims to bring awareness to you about the many visual and performing art venues and educational opportunities in the Oxford Hills. The Oxford Hills Region of Maine is a perfect setting for the arts as it is centrally located where the rolling foothills of the White Mountains and beautiful lakes regions intersect. Located 45 miles north of Portland, 35 miles east of New Hampshire, and 20 miles west of Lewiston-Auburn, the region hosts multiple year-round opportunities for learners of all ages and a thriving arts community. The Oxford Hills School District (SAD17) is Maine’s largest school district in geographic area, with nine community schools, a regional middle school, a comprehensive high school and the Streaked Mountain School, an alternative school for high school students. The Oxford Hills include the towns of Buckfield, Harrison, Hartford, Hebron, Mechanic Falls, Norway, Otisfield, Oxford, Paris, Poland, Sumner, Waterford and West Paris. A great big THANKS to Diana Arcadipone for writing this series of posts.

Three Modern Dance Studios with Complimentary Philosophies

Art Moves Dance Studio

“Every kid is hungry for dance!” says Debi Irons, founder and artistic director of Art Moves, a dance studio located in Norway, Maine. In her vast experience as a professional dancer and dance educator, she laments that dance attracts mostly girls. Boys are naturally drawn to dance, but because it is culturally frowned upon, they tend not to participate without explicit support from parents and teachers.

A natural catalyst, Debi Irons wanted to offer dance programs in the schools because performing wasn’t quite enough for her. The joy of discovering a teenager who thrived and made dance her profession drove Debi to focus on dance education. When she offered dance programs in San Fransisco in the 1980’s, she found troubled youth in small alternative high schools who were passionate about dance. These urban kids taught Debi how to street dance, and she taught them self respect. She taught them how to treat each other and how to expect more from life. “Magic happens when students get to the place where they feel free and unselfconscious. Teachers of all disciplines already have the tool kit within them to ignite their students’ creativity”.

In 1988, Debi moved back to the Norway/South Paris area where she had grown up, and opened Art Moves. For thirty years, Art Moves has provided an environment in which students can discover their own self expression. The dance studio, located at 13 Cottage Street, occupies the entire third floor of a grand historic building where dance technique is taught and performances are held. Variant Dance is a developmentally appropriate technique that combines with creativity and self expression. Teaching variant dance could be perceived as the mission of the studio. Art Moves provides opportunities for students who may not easily have access to such a sophisticated and professional experience.

The other driving force behind Art Moves is music. As a dancer, Debi’s preference is improvisation to live music (jazz, hip hop, classical, Afro-Brazilian, etc.) As a teacher, combining music that students have never heard before interspersed with music that they love, is the most effective tool to getting kids to move and grow outside of themselves. The body is the instrument.

Art Moves also hosts a group of Brazilian dance companies annually to tour Maine and conduct workshops and performances in the schools.  Last year, they visited Oxford Elementary School, Hebron Station School, Hartford-Sumner Elementary School, Buckfield High School and various community centers. The Brazilians perform with visual artists and musicians as well. This program also offers a dance exchange for Art Moves Dance Ensemble to visit Brazil for up to one month to study, create and perform.

Currently Art Moves offers variant dance and technique classes for kids, teens and adults at the studio. Art Moves serves hundreds annually between the studio, public schools and private dance studios. Art Moves holds two studio shows annually in collaboration with Expansion Arts and offers a summer dance intensive, Art Moves offers visiting performances and workshops through daily, weekly or long term dance residencies in the schools, in-house field days and/or after school programs. If your school is interested in inviting one of the Brazilian dance groups, Art Moves Dance Ensemble, or Debi Irons to your school, or any other in-house programs, contact Debi@artmovesdance.com. For additional information and on-going news; Like Art Moves Dance Studio on Facebook or go to artmovesdance.com

Expansion Arts Dance Studio

“High standards of training and professionalism” are attributed to my early studies with ArtMoves says Sasha Richardson, Owner and Creative Director of Expansion Arts dance studio. Sasha grew up dancing in the Oxford Hills, starting at the age of 6. While attending Oxford Hills High School, Sasha discovered Debi Irons and ArtMoves which were a major influence on her career path.  She would later join the ArtMoves Ensemble as a professional dancer, and collaborate with ArtMoves to combine studio performances and shows. 

Since Dance was not a part of the curriculum at OHCHS, Sasha Richardson studied music, drums, band, choir, music theory and more.  Devoted to pursuing dance in college, Sasha chose Long Island University where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree that integrated dance, anatomy and wellness. All of her professors were artists and performers from the dance world in NYC. She tapped all available resources including entering her work at NYC’s Dance Theater Workshop, to help shape her philosophy that combines performing, choreographing, teaching and strength training. Sasha was starting to define a style with a modern base and technique base yet with an eye to strength development. “We must work with what we are given in terms of our natural talents, and start from where we are”, Richardson says.

After college, Sasha returned to the Oxford Hills because she “needed her Maine people”. In New York, you stay in one path to specialize, and are not able to branch out so easily. Sasha was determined to dance, train, take classes, create work, rehearse work, perform, teach and choreograph. In Maine, you can branch out.

In 2015, Sasha opened Expansion Arts and soon needed to move to a larger studio. She started with a condensed schedule of 8 classes per week (Tap, Modern, Jazz, Ballet, Zumba and Hip Hop, for kids and adults with age breaks 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, 13 and up) and Creative Movement (for ages 3-5).  The age distinctions are important from an anatomy standpoint and physical development standpoint. Expansion Arts now offers 13 classes per week and has grown from serving 35 dancers to 60 dancers, most of whom are taking 2 – 6 classes each week).  Expansion Arts teachers include Sasha Richardson, Kim Hamlin, Tegan Bullard and Karianna Merrill.

Through Expansion Arts, Sasha has refined her philosophy of training, performing and teaching with a focus on dance anatomy (basics of how the body functions and the kinesiology of how the body moves). She expanded her dance anatomy background to combine with a massage therapy training program to inform teaching dance with additional knowledge of the muscular skeletal system. Student injuries are extremely rare.

Sasha has served the local schools by choreographing for musicals in schools, drama clubs, and community shows. She works with guidance counselors to help students who are having trouble in school and has taught at the Oxford Hills Middle Schools in their “Quest” day for four consecutive years, (where students get to study dance for a longer period of time and visit a real dance studio). Expansion Arts offers choreography and residencies to schools within a 30 mile radius of South Paris, ME. For additional information, contact Expansionartsdance.com, go to Facebook. You can also send email to expansionarts@gmail.com

Neveah Dance Circus and Dance Studio

The Gentempo sisters started Nevaeh Dance Circus and held their first practices in a church basement in Oxford, Maine because they wanted more opportunities to perform. Nevaeh is heaven spelled backwards. Nettie and Hannah grew up in a home filled with dance and music; their mother formally trained in ballet and their father playing the piano. As a young child, Nettie studied ballet in her mother’s studio Green Mountain Ballet in Poultney, VT and later trained with Art Moves. As teenagers, the sisters started a performing group. Nettie studied in Portland, ME after winning a Maine based So You Think You Can Dance competition.

Currently 9 dancers perform with Nevaeh Dance Circus. Their Concept is unique as it combines performance art with dance, incorporates theater, magic, live music, singing, the spoken word, poetry, and interactive segments with the audience. Their Performance season is primarily in summertime as their outdoor public performances focus in unique locations such as Norway Lake, Portland Art Walks, Longley’s Square, Moore Park in South Paris, Old Port Music Festival in Deering Park, Portland.  They also perform in outdoor festivals such as Great North Music Festival, Green Grass Jubilee Festival, Norway Art Festival, Westbrook Together Days. Dance Circus also performs at private camps such as Fernwood Cove, Camp Wigwam with specific programming for youth. A recent project presents a performance to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” soundtrack that will collaborate with visual artist, A Minor, and incorporate projections.

A 2017 project grant from the Maine Arts Commission enabled Nevaeh to produce 3 summer performances in Longley Square with guest performers Fred Garbo, Debi Irons and  (Ripleys Believe it or Not) Sword swallower Nick Penny. Nevaeh Dance Circus serves an audience from 25 people up to 200. Shows produced by Nevaeh are contribution based (all are welcome regardless of ability to pay).

The dance studio offers classes in ballet, Hulaloops (hula-hoops), Dance fusion, Creative Lyric (storytelling and dance that follows the lyrics of a song), Juggling and Improvisational Theater (taught by Steve Corning), Dance Games (30 minutes that gets kids moving and using their imaginations), Baby and Me (multi-generational ages), and Belly Dance (taught by Tegan Bullard).   Classes and workshops coincide with the school year and serve approximately 50 students annually. HulaLoop classes have beeb offered at Guy Rowe School, West Paris Elementary, Paris Elementary School, Otisfield Elementary, Raymond Elementary School (and most schools in SAD 17).

As of the Spring of 2017, Nevaeh Dance Studio is based on the second floor of 290 Main Street, Norway. Classes serve 18-month olds up to adults.  For more information about classes, workshops or performances, go to Nevaeh DanceCircus.org or email Nettieegentempo@gmail.com

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