Category Archives: Spotlight
How it is already the third week of August, and now fall is just around the corner?! It has been a whirlwind summer for Arts Horizons as we continue to pivot and navigate through these very uncertain times in art, education, and life as we know it. In our last blog post, we introduced our virtual arts education program offerings which include live, prerecorded, and hybrid classes in a variety of artistic mediums. We would like to thank each and every one of our incredibly resourceful and resilient teaching artists. Many of them quickly transitioned to online teaching after COVID-19 shut down all of our in-person residencies in March.
We are also incredibly grateful to our partners who continue to support us as we develop and expand our virtual programs. This week, we spotlight one such partner, Boys and Girls Club of Harlem (BGCH). For 40 years, BGCH has been in an integral part of the greater Harlem community, and they strive to fill the gap between school and home by providing a positive, welcoming environment where kids and teens can have fun, participate in life-changing programs, and build supportive relationships with their peers and caring adults.
Since July, BGCH has been conducting an in-person summer camp for a select group of students at their Main Clubhouse on 145th Street and a Virtual Summer Camp online for the Harlem community. AH Teaching Artists Vickie Fremont and Derick Cross have created interactive, pre-recorded lessons in Recyclable Arts and Beatboxing for the Virtual Summer Camp. And over the last three weeks, Arts Horizons Teaching Artists Jeannine Otis and Dawn Crandell conducted livestream classes in Musical Theater and Dance, respectively. Let’s take a quick peek into their virtual classes via Google Meet!
BGCH’s summer camps were uniquely set up with strict COVID-19 social distancing and other protective measures in place. All students and staff were required to wear masks at all times, and this was one of the initial challenges that Dawn had encountered while teaching her high-energy Zumba® Fitness classes. Dawn is a multifaceted performing artist and licensed Zumba® instructor who specializes in theater, improvisation, burlesque, dance, and creative movement. Although Dawn was not physically present at BGCH, she decided to wear a mask while teaching in solidarity with her students. It took some getting used to, but in the end Dawn and her students adapted extremely well to dancing with masks on. A highlight of her classes was the “Follow Along Song” in which students took turn leading the group in a dance before cooling down.
Staten Island-based and award-winning singer, songwriter, actress, and author Jeannine Otis conducted a musical theater residency that focused on musicals situated in “urban settings” and included selections from: Hamilton, In the Heights, West Side Story, and The Wiz. Jeannine not only taught her students song from these musicals, but she challenged them to think about how the city landscape is uniquely used to develop the plot, subtext, and characters. BGCH students were also treated to some guest artists straight from Broadway and the professional theater world – Larry Marshall (Waitress), Kristi Coombs (Annie), and Ariel Marcus (IlluminArt & Women’s Playwright Collective) – who shared their art and their exciting stories of working in musical theater.
We would like to sincerely thank Ms. Dominique Jones (Executive Director), Ms. Justine Robinson (Academic Programs Manager), Mr. Joseph Landon (Assistant Site Director), and all of the BGCH staff for their incredible support and for so warmly welcoming us back virtually! We are grateful for our long and fruitful partnership with BGCH, and we hope to continue working closely together to provide arts education to the Harlem community for years to come.
The pandemic may have shifted us to a new normal, but arts education is here to stay! Arts Horizons’ virtual arts programs are highly interactive and can help bolster student engagement, creativity, and well being. For more information about our livestream, prerecorded, and hybrid virtual arts programs, please contact Dena Malarek or Kiran Rajagopalan.
Department of NYC Residencies & Special Populations
Dena Isles, Director
NY Phone: 212.268.7219 * 108
NJ Phone: 201.567.1766 * 108
Kiran Rajagopalan, Program Coordinator
NY Phone: 212.268.7219 * 113
NJ Phone: 201.567.1766 * 113
After a busy and fruitful school year, Arts Horizons plunged straight into our summer arts education programs in Brooklyn, Bronx, and Staten Island. 10 AH teaching artists conducted five to six week-long residencies at various sites administered by the following community-based organizations: Moshulu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC), Children of Promise, NYC (CPNYC), and United Activities Unlimited (UAU). We are pleased to recognize our longstanding partnerships with MMCC and UAU, and we are eager to continue deepening our new partnership with CPNYC. All three organizations have been doing exceptional work to provide spaces that foster educational, recreational, counseling, and/or social programs for children and young adults in New York City’s outer boroughs. After school and summer programming offered by these organizations are part of the Beacon and SONYC (School’s Out NYC) initiatives by the Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) in collaboration with the Administration for Child Services (ACS) and the Department of Homeless Services.
At 7 MMCC Cornerstone sites, our teaching artists provided an eclectic offering of engaging programming to elementary and middle school children ranging from Afro-Caribbean Dance with Silvana Marquina to Percussion with Larry Washington, Jewelry-Making with Ken Fury, Jazz Vocal with Pamela Hamilton, and Visual Arts with Natalie Alleyne, Yako Prodis, and Mansa Mussa. AH teaching artist Ibrahima Camara had a very busy summer as he conducted African dance and drumming residencies for all three organizations!
AH Program Coordinator Kiran Rajagopalan had the opportunity to visit two music residencies this summer – Grace Galu’s songwriting program for MMCC at Fort Independence Community Center in Bronx and D. Cross’s beatboxing program for CPNYC in Brooklyn. Let’s take a quick peek into their classes!
Noted soul vocalist and vocal coach Grace Galu is a new teaching artist for Arts Horizons. Students in her songwriting classes learned all about using figurative language, counting syllables, and crafting narratives. She opened up her classes with a fun icebreaker, “Jump In, Jump Out,” in which students introduce and identify themselves to the class as a “singer/dancer/gamer/etc. for the rest of their lives!” Once they were energized, Grace asked them to name their favorite food or activity – the first class eventually chose ice cream and the second class chose dance. Together, students created short, poetic phrases with adjectives to describe how ice cream and dance made them feel, and these lines were compiled into a short stanza and chorus. Grace then brought out her guitar and sung her students’ songs acapella!
Kiran’s second stop was at CPNYC in Brooklyn to attend a beatboxing class by longtime AH teaching artist and multidisciplinary artist D. Cross. CPNYC specializes in enrichment programing for children of incarcerated parents to “empower them to break the cycle of intergenerational involvement in the criminal justice system.” The focus of D. Cross’s residency was to introduce students to the basic elements of vocal percussion and music production through the creation of beats for songs. D. Cross assembled the students in a Hip-Hop cypher to facilitate improvisation and conversation through music. Students took turns beatboxing, improvising lyrics, or adding other sounds, and D. Cross layered their vocals into a cohesive beat with the help of a splicer machine!
Arts Horizons was thrilled to see such active participation in the arts at MMCC, UAU, and CPNYC, and we are grateful to hear that our teaching artists’ efforts were well appreciated by students, faculty, and administrators. We would also like to thank Ms. Kim Viade, Ms. Monique Newton, and Ms. Gizzelle Lopez along with all of the site directors and staff for welcoming us into their programs. We are excited to continue our collaborative work with these amazing organizations for the next academic year.
For more information, please contact: Dena Malarek – Director, NYC Residencies & Special Populations (212-268-7219*108; firstname.lastname@example.org) or Kiran Rajagopalan – Program Coordinator, NYC Residencies & Special Populations (212-268-7219*113; email@example.com)
There are just six weeks to go before Arts Horizons officially turns 40, and plans for a major celebration are underway! We have had an incredible year of arts education programming in New York and New Jersey, and highlights of our New York City residencies can be found in our previous post. We dedicate this week’s post to highlighting our new partnership with Wellcore Consulting and our spring residencies at 3 schools in East Ramapo School District (ERSD). Situated in the heart of Rockland County in upstate New York and adjacent to the New Jersey state border, ERSD boasts a diverse student body which, according to The Atlantic, is “over 90 percent…children of color, mostly black or Latino, and many of whom are English-learning immigrants.”
Our year-long after school programs at three ERSD schools were funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Center and Empire State After-School Program grants and administered by Wellcore. 6 AH teaching artists – Twinkle Burke, Scott Gaddy, Michael Gardiner, Yah’aya Kamate, Gail Lou, and Suzi Myers – conducted theater, African percussion, Hip Hop, and World Dance residencies for elementary and high school students. Arts Horizons Program Coordinator, Kiran Rajagopalan, recently visited American College Preparatory Academy and Elmwood Elementary School to observe Suzi Myers and Michael Gardiner in action. Let’s take a quick trip into their classes!
Suzi surprised her dance students at Elmwood by showing up with dozens of strange bundles on sticks. She held up a bundle, which looked like cotton candy, and with a flick her wrist, out came a long, silk ribbon! Students were enthralled and very eager to learn Chinese Ribbon Dance. They were taught five fundamental movements from this ancient dance form: waterfall, river, rainbow, snake, and dragon. Afterwards, students freestyled movements based on “writing their names” or “drawing shapes” in the air.
Michael Gardiner’s theater classes at American Prep focused primarily on interactive games which demanded utmost focus and developed critical listening and improvisation skills. Classes began with the “Zip, Zap, Zop” game. This theater exercise is designed to sharpen student’s listening skills by having each student call out either “zip,” “zap,” or “zop” in rapid fire succession. Michael then turned up the energy by having students moving around the classroom with a series of walking and jumping “in character” exercises. One class even ended their session with an improvised a skit set in an African Safari!
Arts Horizons would like to thank the Wellcore administrators, faculty, and staff at Elmwood, American Prep, and Spring Valley High School for their incredible support and for so warmly welcoming us into their schools. We hope this is the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership for years to come. Stay tuned for our next spotlight of our summer programs at MMCC and Children of Promise! Have a relaxing and peaceful summer…
Spring is finally in full bloom in New York, and Arts Horizons is preparing for the end of the school year and planning the launch of our summer programs. We are pleased to announce the fifth post of a series in which we spotlight two more of our partner schools in Manhattan that received an “Arts for English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities” (ELL+SWD) grant: PS 184M: Shuang Wen in Chinatown and PS 79M: Horan School in East Harlem. This is Arts Horizons’ fourth season participating in this initiative, and we have announced our 10 partner schools for this academic year in a previous post.
Through this grant, participating schools “receive funding to create new or expand existing partnerships with arts and cultural organizations with experience serving English Language Learners (ELLs) and/or Students with Disabilities (SWD).” Our visual and performing arts programs for Literacy Development and Socio-emotional Growth effectively engaged these student populations through hands-on workshops that stimulated creativity, vocabulary development, speaking, and other communication skills.
At PS 184M, three AH teaching artists – Pat Russell, Navida Stein, and Jeannine Otis – conducted residencies for grades 3, 4, and 7 in Circus Arts, Storytelling, and Musical Theater. AH teaching artists Mansa Mussa and Natalie Alleyne have been part of an extensive visual arts program with District 75 elementary school students at PS 79M. Let’s take a quick visit to their classes!
Earlier in April, AH program coordinator Kiran Rajagopalan attended (and videotaped) the final performances of Jeannine Otis’s 7th grade and Pat Russell’s 3rd Grade classes at PS 184M. Jeannine is an award-winning singer, songwriter, actress, and author, and she is co-director of Theatreworks USA’s production “Freedom Train.” Pat is a multidisciplinary theater artist and longtime teaching artist who specializes in clowning, circus skills, facepainting, and puppetry.
Jeannine’s 7th grade classes presented “Message Songs,” an uplifting series of student-selected songs centered on the theme of social justice. A student representative from each of the three classes spoke briefly about their song choices and how they related to issues they have experienced at school and in their communities. “Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson, “Seasons of Love” from the musical Rent, and four songs from the megahit musical Hamilton were performed to a packed audience of students and parents. Jeannine even had a guest drummer, bassist, and spoken-word artist STARDA as part of the ensemble!
Immediately following “Message Songs,” the auditorium was transformed into a circus with the assistance of several parent volunteers who hung up pennants, student artwork, and other paraphernalia. Pat’s 3rd grade classes then paraded into the auditorium and performed tricks, skits, and gags that wowed and amazed a second group of students and parents. Students juggled scarves, balanced feathers, played tug-of-war with an imaginary rope, tumbled on mats, performed magic illusions, and did tricks with hula hoops! The 45-minute show ended with an engaging Q&A in which students asked other students about all of the tricks they saw.
It was a monumental undertaking to coordinate the logistics of these performances, and we thank visual arts teacher Ms. E-Anna Soong for all of her effort in their organization and execution. We also thank the principal Ms. Chiu and assistant principal Ms. Mee for welcoming us into their schools.
Kiran then travelled uptown to visit noted mixed media artist Natalie Alleyne at PS 79M, and he observed her students creating collage portraits with such enthusiasm and concentration. Most students were instructed to create collage portraits using bits of construction paper and gluestick. Several students had already completed their collages in a previous class, and they learned how to use a tile cutter in preparation for next week’s lesson of transforming their collages into mosaics. The paraprofessionals and teachers were critical support to Natalie and her students, and we thank them for their assistance throughout the residency.
For further information on applying for the Arts for ELL+SWD grant with Arts Horizons as a partner, please contact Dena Malarek at 201-567-1766 ext. 108 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for new applications and renewals is Friday, June 8!
With June quickly approaching, Arts Horizons has been very busy at work with preparations for the end of the school year. We are pleased to announce the fourth post of a series in which we spotlight two more of our partner schools in Queens that received an “Arts for English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities” (ELL+SWD) grant: JHS 226Q: Virgil I. Grissom in South Ozone Park and Q670: Robert F. Kennedy Community High School (RFKCHS) in Fresh Meadows. A complete list of all of our “Arts for ELL+SWD” partner schools can be found here.
AH teaching artist Dawn Crandell recently concluded a successful playwriting residency with middle school students at 226Q while AH teaching artist Chris Lin is currently engaged in a year-long visual arts program with high school students at RFKCHS. Let’s take a quick visit into their classes!
A multifaceted performing artist specializing in theater, burlesque, and dance, Dawn Crandell shared her expertise in playwriting with student in Grades 6-8 at 226Q. She successfully piqued her students’ innate creativity through a series of thought-provoking and fun writing and performance exercises. As a result, she compiled many booklets of her students’ incredible short plays and other writings such as this one below written by six 6th grade students:
Chris Lin is a Queens-based visual artist with over 25 years of teaching experience with students of all ages, parents, and senior citizens. At RFKCHS, Chris is conducting arts integration workshops in English literature and traditional studio art classes to high school students. AH Program Coordinator Kiran Rajagopalan had an opportunity to observe Chris’s English class in which students are currently studying the hit Broadway musical West Side Story. This week, Chris is challenging the students to create evocative movie posters which graphically and symbolically depict the musical’s central themes through a variety of mediums such as collage, drawing, and sketching.
Arts Horizons is pleased to announce the second post of a series in which we spotlight some our partner schools that received an “Arts for English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities” (ELL+SWD) grant. A list of all of our “Arts for ELL+SWD” partner schools can be found here. In the previous post, we visited AH teaching artist Judy Richardson’s engaging set design residency at CIS 303X, one of our newest partner schools.
In this post, we highlight another new partner school – PS 28M: Wright Brothers School in West Harlem. Arts Horizons program coordinator Kiran Rajagopalan recently visited PS 28M to attend a session of longtime AH teaching artist Navida Stein’s storytelling residency. Miss Navida is a specialist in storytelling and a multifaceted actor, musician, educator, and playwright. Let’s take a quick peek into two of her classes at PS 28M!
Miss Navida teaching a new song about a boat in English & Spanish to her students!
Miss Navida’s highly energetic and engaging teaching style enabled students (and teachers!) to move swiftly between each activity. The 1st grade class began with students “singing their name” to the accompaniment of Miss Navida’s keyboard and the tinkling of jingle bells. Then they practiced statue friezes and movements for fish, iguanas, rabbits, snakes, and turtles in preparation for performing Mañana, Iguana by Ann Whitford Paul. Miss Navida even taught them a new song in English and Spanish about a boat. Her Kindergartners were so ecstatic when they got to perform a new song with scarves!
“On!” “Off!” “In!” “Out!” “Up!” “Down!” & “All Around” with Miss Navida
1st Grade Teacher Mrs. Perez, Assistant Principal Ms. Peña, and Principal Ms. Baez were all extremely appreciative of Miss Navida’s storytelling residency. Mrs. Perez, in particular, was especially impressed with how positively her students’ “behavior had changed in response to art.” We would like to thank all of the faculty and staff at PS 28M for their incredible support and for so warmly welcoming us into their programs. We hope this is the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership for years to come. Happy Holidays and check back with us in January for more spotlights on our other partner schools!
Arts Horizons is pleased to recognize our ongoing partnership with Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC) and to highlight our summer arts education programs at 8 of their Cornerstone sites. MMCC is a longstanding community organization that serves more than 35,000 preschoolers, school age children, teens, adults and senior citizens in Bronx and Manhattan through free and affordable support, enrichment, education, and recreation programs. MMCC offers a wide selection of after school programming for all age groups at more than twenty sites in the two boroughs. MMCC’s after school and summer programming is part of the Beacon and SONYC (School’s Out NYC) initiatives by the Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD) in collaboration with the Administration for Child Services (ACS) and the Department of Homeless Services.
We are thrilled that 10 AH Teaching Artists provided such an eclectic offering of engaging summer programming to elementary and middle school children at various community centers in Manhattan and the Bronx. Larry Washington, Ibrahima Camara, and Yako Prodis conducted lively percussion and music residencies at Grant and Boston Secor Cornerstones. Aaron Lazansky, Natalie Alleyne, and D. Cross taught visual arts at Pelham Parkway, Edenwald, and Parkside Cornerstones. Dawn Crandell, Dean Maitland, Ken Fury, and Silvana Marquina conducted dance and movement residencies at Fort Independence, Marble Hill, and Gun Hill Cornerstones.
AH Program Coordinator Kiran Rajagopalan had the opportunity to visit the community centers in Fort Independence, Marble Hill, Edenwald, and Boston Secor to see Dean, Ken, Ibrahima, and Natalie in action. Let’s take a quick peek into their classes!
Dean Maitland is a versatile dancer and choreographer from Grenada, and he is the founder of Arts-in-Motion (A.I.M.) in Brooklyn. His highly informative dance residency at Fort Independence introduced students to various styles of dance including: West African, Afro-Caribbean, Hip Hop, Ballet, and Jazz. Dean then combined various basic movements from each dance style into a scintillating routine that students enthusiastically practiced for nearly 90 minutes!
Noted break dancer, visual artist, and jewelry designer Ken Fury (founder of the Breaking Institute of the Arts) conducted a dance residency at Marble Hill which focused on the BBoying aspect of Hip Hop dance. Students learned some of the basic break dance freezes and footwork, and they choreographed a small sequence of movements to be incorporated into a final dance. Ken even asked Kiran to demonstrate and teach the students a few basic steps from Indian classical dance!
An experienced teaching artist and a prolific painter, Natalie Alleyne had students create their own customized t-shirts for her visual arts residency at Edenwald Cornerstone. Students first handpainted their own designs onto blank, white T-shirts using fabric paint. On the last day of the residency, students learned how to tie-dye their painted t-shirts. Natalie shared useful tips such as adding salt in order to help the fabric take the dye along with different ways to fold up the t-shirts to create different patterns.
Ibrahima Camara, a master West African drummer, singer, and dancer from Guinea, taught percussion to students at Boston Secor Cornerstone. Ibrahima had his students sit in a large drum circle, and he used a traditional call-and-response method to teach students how to tap four basic sounds on bright blue Loew’s buckets using wooden drumsticks. Enrollment in Ibrahima’s class had unexpectedly increased so much from the first class that there were not enough drumsticks to go around. However, students graciously shared the drumsticks with each other so that everyone had a chance to play along!
Arts Horizons is thrilled to see such active participation in the arts at these MMCC Cornerstone sites, and we are grateful to hear that our teaching artists’ efforts were well appreciated by students, faculty, and administrators. We would also like to thank Ms. Kim Viade and all of the Cornerstone site directors and staff for welcoming us into their programs. We are excited to continue our collaborative work with this amazing organization for the next academic year.