Mentor Artist Djenane Saint Juste worked with children from kindergarten through grade 8 this year:
Dance is a powerful art form that allows the true self to shine and be happy. It is a way of communication that transcends any kind of barriers that our ancestors have used for many generations. It is a way to bring the community together.
After each residency at a school I discover new artists aware of their body and learning to translate their emotion through movements. I saw happy children and teachers who feel safe and confident to share their new dance moves. I saw respectful middle school students who learned to enjoy partner dancing with their classmates. And I spent a year working with the Cascade Canyon community who enjoyed traveling and learning about Haiti and other remarkable Caribbean cultures.
Let’s find Haiti!
Haitian dance game “Ti Gason” little boy.
Dance is for Everyone !
Dumming with Jeff
I am very thankful that I had the chance to grow up with a mother who is an amazing artist who taught me the passion for dance. And I am so happy to bring my family with me to each residency. My mother Fofo is a singer and dancer, my brother Jeff is a percussionist and my son Hassen is a dancer. I think it is very important for children to see four generations of family working together as artists, and to understand that dance is for everyone and is the true language of love.
Joti Singh is the Artistic Director and founder of Duniya Dance and Drum Company. She is a choreographer, performer, and instructor of Bhangra dance from Punjab, India.
It was a pleasure to teach Indian Dance to the 6th graders at White Hill Middle School. Two of the classes learned Bhangra (a harvest dance from Punjab, India) while two classes learned Bollywood (a popular mix of dance forms from the mainstream Indian film industry). They were able to compare and contrast traditional and contemporary Indian dance forms, and after a presentation featuring videos and maps, the students were introduced to the huge diversity of dance forms in India.
From the first day, the students were enthusiastic and focused. Even the most reserved dancers were eventually drawn to the upbeat music and movement of Indian dance, and in the end all the students worked together to put on great performances.
Bhangra and Bollywood are very effective forms for teaching youth because both are upbeat and joyous dances. The music is mixed with familiar contemporary beats which young folks recognize, making it easier for them to enter into the world of Indian dance, having established a feeling of comfort with the music. The students all performed for parents, teachers and administrators at the end of the residency.
I applaud schools like White Hill that are taking the initiative to teach their students to be functional and compassionate members of our global society.
As the school year approaches, we are getting ready to provide amazing arts opportunities for students of varied abilities through our VSA arts program (Vision, Strength, Accessibility!). Once again, as for the past 30 years, Youth in Arts is working with the Marin County Office of Education to provide arts classes in 30 Special Day Classrooms around Marin. Mentor Artist Rachael Bouch-Dimondstein’s work at Vallecito Elementary is an outstanding example of the beauty created in a classroom when arts are incorporated: Click to continue »
This was my fifth year teaching Music and Movement in Youth in Arts’ VSA program, and I was lucky enough to be assigned to four classes this year, Linda Breakstone/Stacey Hall, Rockne Beeman, Corrie Johnson and Jessica Leaper. We had a wonderful time singing, dancing and playing. Click to continue »
The Photosynthesis cast with artist Rebecca Burgess
Youth in Arts new musical Photosynthesis–Living Sunlight debuted today to hundreds of local schoolchildren and their teachers and parents at the Showcase Theatre at the Marin Center. The kids and adults were enthusiastic about the show, which teaches the science behind photosynthesis using lively music, dance and theater.
The musical is based on Living Sunlight, How Plants Bring the Earth to Life by Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm, and we were thrilled to have Molly in the house today!
Also attending was local fiber artist Rebecca Burgess, who contributed to the development of Photosynthesis and also curated Youth in Arts new gallery exhibit, “Farm Fresh Fashion.” The exhibit and the musical are great companion pieces, blending art and science to encourage better stewardship of our earth.
If you’d like to catch Photosynthesis–Living Sunlight, a final performance will be offered Friday, May 4, at 7 pm. Tickets are available in advance from the Marin Center Box Office, or at the door beginning at 6 pm.
Photosynthesis Performers, Composer Miguel Martinez and Author Molly Bang with some young audience members
As a grand finale for Youth in Arts Mentor Artist Tom Mayock’s dance residency at White Hill Middle School, over 400 students performed a wide range of dances from the Jazz genre, in such styles as Hip Hop, Pop, Body Percussion, and Zumba, to name a few. Tom led these young adults into a choreographed celebration with contemporary music and dances such as Katy Perry’s “Firework”, Tao Cruz’s “Dynamite”, with a triumphant performance of Jai Ho! in the Bollywood style.
A Special thank go to The Yes Foundation, Youth In Arts, Kathy Thorton, and Chris Strempek for their dedication to their community, to their leadership and collaboration.
And the young adults of White Hill Middle school must be saluted for their fierce wild cat spirit! Their dance is strong!
Brothers Eddie and Marcos Madril put on a wonderful Native American Dance and Music performance at Sutter Elementary School in Santa Clara last week. A third grade teacher commented that Eddie and Marcos “were very energetic, fun to watch and very smart and knowledgeable about Native American culture.”
Highlights of the day included the entire school dancing with the performers, Eddie performing the amazing Hoop Dance, and the beautiful Native American dress. Yet again, Youth In Arts’ artists put on a captivating and highly lauded school assembly performance!
A second grade teacher added
My students have never been so excited about a school assembly! They could not stop talking about how much they enjoyed Marcos and Eddie. They did such a great job engaging the students. Eddie talked to the students in a way that made the information accessible to all students. They were very informative! It was a great experience.
If you walk down the halls of Terra Linda High school on a Tuesday morning, you may just hear the sounds of a Tabla, Doumbek, shakers and tamborines playing joyful beats accompanied by the gleeful cheers of students in Rachel Hughes Special Day Class. YIA Mentor Artists William Rossel and Nydia Gonzalez have been working with students for 10 weeks, practicing a variety of basic rhythms and swaying movements which they will present for attending family and friends in a few weeks.
Every student in this class has enjoyed the activities, finding the one that brings them the most joy:
Gihea rocks out to the beat with her upbeat movements, waving her scarves and showing off her moves.
Brian loves to dance with the “friend of the day” (usually a soft stuffy that Nydia brings in to assist with engagement and focus), and his twin brother Neil loves to play percussion instruments on the peripheral of the classroom.
Maria eagerly awaits the moment in which she can sway her hips to the rhythms in a fluid movement while waving the scarves and smiling.
Demelza always insists she is too shy to do her “solo”, but ends up breaking out her special choreography that usually includes some serious hip shaking and the “genie” move, named by a classmate from last year.
Savannah loves to play along to the beat and when she does her solo dance, she smiles and giggles with contagious joy.
Graham, has limited fine motor skills, but always waves his arms in rhythm and shares the biggest smile when it is his turn to shine.
Alessandra absolutely LOVES to help us keep count of the rhythms and her signature dance move is a spin.
Needless to say, we have a blast playing music and dancing with this talented and enthusiastic group of students. Thank you to the teacher Rachel Hughes and all of the para-educators and aides who are so loving, supportive and willing to get down with our groves at Terra Linda High School!!
March is Arts Education Month and Women’s History Month, when we honor the contributions of women to our history and culture.
We’d like to highlight some of our terrific woman performing artists this month, all of whom perform in the schools through the Youth in Arts Presents assemblies program. In addition to helping students understand the important contributions of women in cultures around the world, these women’s efforts to sustain and share their art forms illustrate the impact women are making in the arts in the U.S. today.
Diane Ferlatte, a native of New Orleans, can readily remember childhood years sitting on the porch of her grandparents’ home, captivated by the oral stories of family generations past, their spirit, their journeys, and their heartfelt fantasy coming more alive in each moment. Now an internationally renowned storyteller, she has received numerous honors and all eight of her recordings have won awards including a 2008 Grammy nomination. Diane believes that telling and listening to each other’s stories not only enables us to learn about each other, but also to understand each other better. She views storytelling as a traditional art form that can promote literacy, imagination, and values in the young. Many of her stories tell of women’s strengths and unique gifts and she frequently performs in celebration of Women’s History Month.
Here is a montage of clips from some of Diane’s storytelling performances:
Julia Tsitsi Chigamba grew up in the rich cultural traditions of Shona music and dance. Daughter of the highly respected Mai Chigamba and Baba Tute Chigamba, she’s a long time member of the Mhembero Dance Troupe and part of the internationally known Chigamba Family of dance and mbira musicians. In 1999, Julia left Zimbabwe and came to the US to share the beauty and wisdom of her culture through teaching and performance. Her Chinyakare Ensemble offers a 45-minute school presentation through Youth in Arts, highlighting traditional instruments, music and dance from Zimbabwe and explaining the important role of women in Zimbabwean traditions and celebrations.
This video features a KMTP-TV segment on Julia and her efforts to bring Zimbabwean music and dance to the U.S.
Joti Singh is a choreographer, performer and teacher of Bhangra dance from Punjab, India, and more contemporary “Bollywood” dance. She also works in West African dance forms from Guinea, West Africa, where she has traveled extensively. She leads the Duniya Dance and Drum Ensemble and has received prestigious awards for creating and performing new work, especially exploring cross-cultural connections through dance. Duniya’s Indian dance presentation for schools features traditional and contemporary dance from India, performed by Joti and her company of women dancers. Joti will explain where each dance originates and talk about the role of women in the arts both here and in India.
Here is video of Joti and Duniya dancers on the Youth in Arts Global Stage at the 2010 Marin County Fair:
Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa’i has been a professional dancer and teacher of ancient and modern hula for 39 years. As a professional dancer, she traveled the world performing in countries such as Africa, Germany, France, Asia, Bali, Hong Kong, Japan and even danced before a royal audience in the Taj Mahal in India. She has performed for such dignitaries as the King of Singapore, as well as for the general population throughout her world travels. Her group, Halau Na Pua O Ka La’akea offers Hawaiian dance, language and arts classes and performs for a wide range of audiences. Shawna’s presentation for schools includes traditional ancient Hawaiian chanting, drumming and dancing, interwoven with modern Hawaiian hula, singing and music. Students can learn about the role of women in traditional Hawaiian arts and in hula today.
Here is Shawna performing a contemporary hula with musician Faith Ako at “Kokua Japan,” a 2011 San Francisco event supporting tsunami relief for Japan.
Joti Singh and Duniya Dance and Drum Company performed three amazing back-to-back assembly performances at Redwood High School this month. The shows were very well received by both staff and students. The high-energy Indian dance and drumming had students enthralled, and after each number the dancers and musicians received loud cheers. Students rushed onto the stage when offered the opportunity to learn some dance steps from the performers!
Duniya Dance Gets Students Out on the Floor!
After one of the shows, Joti even had students raising their hands and asking where they could study dance with her!