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…