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Spotlight: Arts for ELL+SWD in Manhattan

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.

Grand Finale of PS 184M’s 3rd Grade Circus Arts Performance with Pat Russell

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 dena@artshorizons.org. The deadline for new applications and renewals is Friday, June 8!

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Spotlight: Summer Programs at MMCC Cornerstones

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 WashingtonIbrahima 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!

Dean Maitland leading his class through a warm-up at Fort Independence Cornerstone

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!

Ken coaching a student on a pose for a photograph at Marble Hill Cornerstone

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.

Natalie Alleyne assisting a student with the tie-dying process at Edenwald Cornerstone

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!

Ibrahima demonstrating a rhythm pattern to students at Boston Secor Cornerstone

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.

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