Blog Archives

AH Spotlight Returns to PS 46X

It is currently midway through a glorious summer, and Arts Horizons is still hard at work after a successful year of arts education residencies and assemblies! We thank all of our wonderful teaching artists for being such an integral part of the Arts Horizons community. We sincerely value their amazing work in bringing art to so many classrooms, hospitals, auditoriums, gymnasiums, and community centers throughout New York and New Jersey. We also thank all of the site administrators, coordinators, teachers, and support staff at our many partner schools and organizations for welcoming us into their spaces.

We would like to once again highlight and recognize our longstanding partnership with PS 46X:  Edgar Allen Poe, an elementary school located in the Bedford Park neighborhood of the Bronx. We are grateful for Principal Jennifer Ade-Alexander, Assistant Principal Roxanna Bello-Sullivan, Assistant Principal Mary Champagne, Librarian Karen Ramirez, ESL Teacher Cindy Cabral, and the faculty and staff for their continued support and dedication to arts education. During the spring semester, six teaching artists conducted successful residencies at PS 46X in a variety of artistic disciplines including:  visual art, dance, music, and storytelling.

Chris Lin’s Saturday morning family workshops were a resounding success, and you can read more about his residency here. Award-winning drummer and longtime AH teaching artist Larry Washington conducted a soulful percussion residency with kindergarteners. Theater artist, musician, and longtime AH teaching artist Navida Stein conducted a brilliant storytelling residency with 1st graders. Multi-instrumentalist Andy Algire taught recorder to 2nd graders. Well-known choreographer and actress Suzi Tipa taught many world dance forms to 3rd graders. Noted Hip Hop and Afro-Brazilian dancer Silvana Marquina conducted a dynamic dance residency for 4th graders.

AH Program Coordinator, Kiran Rajagopalan, returned to PS 46X earlier in May to observe Suzi, Larry, and Andy in action! Let’s take a quick peek into their classes…

Larry’s kindergarten percussion class was high-energy and full of surprises! Students not only learned to play a new percussion instrument each week, but they also learned to sing and enact several songs. Baba Larry then requested Kiran to participate in a “freeze dance” with the students, and the students responded with cheers when he showed off his Indian classical dance skills. The class ended with a Carnaval dance party, and students spontaneously formed a samba line and danced to Baba Larry’s sizzling Afro-Brazilian beats!

A kindergartner tries playing Larry Washington’s balafon

Andy’s 2nd grade recorder class began with a series of fun warm-up exercises for the fingers, arms, wrists, and shoulders. Andy then brought out his balafon, an ancient West African wooden xylophone, and the students rehearsed their chosen piece for PS 46X’s annual end of the year showcase. Andy thoughtfully guided his orchestra, and the students’ enthusiasm and eagerness to sing and play their recorders were clearly evident.

Andy Algire teaches 2nd graders how to play the recorder

Suzi’s 3rd grade class studied a wide range of dance styles from Italy, India, Mexico, and the United States. During this session, students were introduced to el jarabe tapatío, popularly known as the “Mexican Hat Dance.” After a robust warm-up, Suzi introduced the fundamental steps of the dance and then quickly transitioned to a challenging sequence of choreography. Despite the hot cafeteria, students pushed through their rehearsal, and they showed off their moves in an impromptu dance circle at the end of Suzi’s class!

3rd Graders warm up with Suzi Tipa

We are thrilled to see such active participation in the arts at PS 46X, and we are excited to continue our collaborative work with the school for the next academic year. Stay cool and stay tuned for further updates from Arts Horizons!

VSA-VAD: Visualizing & Realizing Artistic Potential in Students with Special Needs

Arts Horizons is pleased to highlight and recognize our arts education programs under contract with John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ Department of VSA and Accessibility. During this academic year, Arts Horizons has been contracted for 4 visual arts residencies at District 75 and Hospital schools in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx through the VSA Children’s Visual Arts Discovery program (VSA-VAD). The schools are:  PS 226M @ PS 76M (A. Philip Randolph) in Manhattan, PS 188X @ PS 34X in the Bronx, Queens Transition Center @ High School for Law Enforcement & Public Safety in Queens, and Hospital Schools @ Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn.

Through VSA-VAD, Arts Horizons provided approximately 8 hours of instruction per student at each of the schools listed above. Our residencies fulfilled VSA-VAD’s aim “to build students’ skills through the application of sound pedagogical principals and quality curricula to create original words of visual art and the opportunity to explore one more visual arts media and genres.” They also aligned well with the Kennedy Center’s overarching theme for this year:  UBUNTU:  Yo Soy…Je suis…I am…Because you are. Ubuntu, which roughly translates to “humanity towards others” in the Nguni Bantu languages of Southern Africa, focuses on art’s unique ability to “create and sustain connections across race, culture, religion, and experience.” An added incentive for students was the opportunity to submit work to be showcased at the Kennedy Center’s “International Art Program for Children with Disabilities” live and online exhibitions in Washington D.C.

Longtime AH Teaching Artist Mr. Mansa Mussa and renowned Staten Island-based visual artist Ms. Sarah Yuster conducted successful and highly-regarded visual arts residencies this year. Mansa is a New Jersey-based visual and performing artist, educator, and consultant who recently celebrated his 20th year with Arts Horizons. Sarah is known for her paintings of urban landscapes and portraits as well as her “Small Truths” film project which documents the experiences of immigration through the eyes of children. AH Program Coordinator Kiran Rajagopalan had the opportunity to visit their classes and observe how they inspired students to showcase their creativity through compelling visual arts projects. Let’s take a quick peek into their classes!

We start with Sarah’s residency for Queens Transition Center at High School for Law Enforcement and Public Safety. This District 75 school primarily serves high school students with Individualized Educational Programs (IEPs) along with documented cases of violence and/or clinically diagnosed mental disorders. Visual art is effective among such students when it promotes creativity in a minimally triggering or volatile environment. Sarah was a nurturing, patient, and gentle instructor, and she was able to introduce her students to life drawing, action sketching, portraiture, and mixed media. According to Sarah, “once it became clear that [students] could delve into a personal endeavor of their choosing, many of them came in week after week to carefully attend a singular piece.” As a result, Sarah was able to submit several beautiful pieces for the Kennedy Center’s exhibition!

Mansa’s visual arts residency for District 75 elementary school PS 226M at PS 76M was devoted to collage-making. This artistic medium effectively showcases artistic creativity with easy-to-use materials such as stickers, stamps, gluesticks, and porous papers. Therefore, it is age-appropriate and safe for elementary school students with special needs and disabilities. Mansa is appreciated for his sensitive approach to teaching students in Hospital Schools and District 75 as well as his ability to pace classes without unnecessary wasting of time and/or art supplies. In this class, students spent the period adding an additional layer of 3-D objects made from grooved sticks and porous paper to their collages with the able assistance of teachers and paraprofessional educators. He even had students photograph their work using his iPad at the end of class!

Mansa also delivered visual arts residencies through VSA-VAD at PS 188X @ PS 34X and Hospital Schools @ Kings County Hospital. As one of our senior-most teaching artists, he will be representing Arts Horizons at the Kennedy Center’s VSA Interactions:  Arts and Special Education Conference in August!

New Addition to the AH Team: Kiran Rajagopalan

Arts Horizons is pleased to welcome Mr. Kiran Rajagopalan to our team as the Program Coordinator for the NYC Residencies and Special Populations Department.

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Kiran in his Professional Avatar
Photo By:  J. Wesley Beeks

Kiran is an accomplished dancer, choreographer, writer, and educator.  Trained extensively in Bharatanatyam (Indian classical dance) for over 25 years, Kiran has given many acclaimed performances in India, Indonesia, Germany, Spain, France, and the United States.  While living in India from 2007-2014, he organized free dance workshops and performances for underprivileged students in government (public) schools throughout the country.  After returning to the United States to pursue a master’s degree in Performance Studies at NYU, he became a teaching artist in the New York public school system and conducted residencies for 3-8th graders which seamlessly integrate poetry, science, and/or reading comprehension with Bharatanatyam.  He joined Arts Horizons in December 2016 as a program coordinator, and he serves as a liaison between the administrative team in the New Jersey office and the teaching artists and site coordinators for residencies in New York.  He also conducts site visits to assess and evaluate residencies.

Aside from his work in arts education, Kiran regularly conducts workshops, lectures, and demonstrations on Indian classical dance and science.  His “NeuroArt” talks on aesthetics, performance, and neuroscience have been particularly appreciated.  In addition, he is the founder and artistic director of Daya Arts which promotes Bharatanatyam through artist-to-artist collaborations and small ensemble work.  In 2016, he co-founded No Rest in the Kingdom as an initiative to facilitate new conversations between disparate communities of color on issues of gender, race, class, & colonialism in the arts.

kiran-1Kiran in his Dancer Avatar
Photo By:  Santhosh Raj

Hip Hop History: Songwriting, Beatboxing and Graffiti Art with Mr. D. Cross

CD and hospital braceletThis marks the 4th year of Arts Horizons programs at Mt. Sinai Hospital (Manhattan)  in collaboration with NYC DOE Hospital Schools.  Music and Dance teaching artists visit the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Inpatient Services to deliver programs for each designated unit to provide educational, artistic and healing outlets for students in crisis with extended hospital stays.  This program is provided u
nder contract with VSA and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. 

 

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 Teaching Artist Mr. Derick Cross returns to provide a Hip Hop History program over 10 weeks where students had the opportunity to create music with their mouths (beatboxing), write various forms of poetry, and create Graffiti influenced art, and learn how to make improvised songs versus structured songs.

 

 Mr. Cross describes one of his student’s experiences:  “There was a young lady named Isabella.  I was told not to expect much participation from her. After conducting class vocal warm ups, I had asked the class if any of the participants would like volunteer to take lead in  leading the workshop exercises ,no one wanted to do it. Isabella said that she would do it. She was very successful in leading the warm up exercises. She was very active in the 2 sessions she participaHospitalSchools2ted in. She was also a big source of inspiration to other students.  Seeing Isabella open up triggered other students who were reluctant to share to be more open and “brave” (as one student had stated).”  Mr. Cross continues, “It was great to see the participants use of similes and metaphors in their poetry. I was surprised that sharing the humble New York origins of Hip Hop Culture would inspire the students to share their own personal stories through poetry.”

 

D.Cross Bio

Derick Cross aka D. Cross is a multi-dimensional artist and educator.  Cross is a Queens New York who has called Brooklyn home for over 15 years.  His visual artistry is created in a variety of media including acrylics, oils, & polymer clay. D.Cross’ work has been shown throughout the New York metropolitan area as well locations nationally (Atlanta)& internationally (Sweden& Brazil ) His work is part of the collections of Erykah Badu(Singer), Ed Lewis (Founder of Essence Communications), Ruby Dee (legendary actress) Judith Jamison (Alvin Ailey Director & Legendary Dancer &choreographer) and Bashiri Johnson (Michael Jackson Percussionist & music producer) among others.  As an Arts Educator Mr. Cross has worked with young people from ages 4-21 for the past 20 years .Organizations he has worked with include the NYC Department of Education, Community Works & Arts Horizons.  In 2007 DCross was presented with a proclamation from State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and honored as a notable artist of the Clinton Hill/Fort Greene area.  Derick Cross is currently a board member of The National conference of Artists ‘New York chapter. He is also art director of African Voices Magazine.

D.Cross the Artist on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/DCrossTheArtist

 

For more information, contact Dena Malarek, Director of NYC Residencies and Special Populations at dena@artshorizons.org

 

Arts Horizons at Face To Face 2014

Arts Horizons was excited to attend the 2014 NYC Arts In Education Roundtables’ Face to Face Conference 2014.   Set in the beautiful backdrop of The City College of New York’s, Shepard hall, the program presented a robust array of quality sessions for all stakeholders in the arts-in-education community.   The day and the issues of arts education were broadcasted in live time through a constant social media connection on twitter, facebook and more further spreading the voice in the power of the arts.

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The engaged presence of key NYC educational and political figures fueled a very hopeful climate for the NYC arts community.  Just a month after Schools’ Chancellor Carmen Fariña’s breakfast with the Arts community, she delivered the keynote address to the 500 persons registered at Face to Face.  Farina energetically makes the case for theater programs in all middle schools for students to have the opportunity to envision and create what they can become.  She advocates for the arts to have a key role in the new social studies curriculum; the role of the arts and illustrations in book publishing in schools; the roll of the arts in our Community and Technical schools.  Gale Brewer, Manhattan Borough President followed Chancellor Farina with live energy for support of the arts and a plea to involve our communities school leadership teams and community boards.

 

With the recent release from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, he pledged to establish a 4 year goal to make sure every child receives arts education required by state law.  (http://blog.artsusa.org/2014/02/26/a-new-era-for-arts-in-new-york-city-schools/#sthash.tLqBMH64.dpuf) (http://www.billdeblasio.com/issues/education) Doug Israel, Director of Research and Policy with the Center for Arts Education discussed the recent release of the report released April 7th by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer. This report provides a first-ever school-by-school breakdown of the state of arts education in the public schools, and overlays that information against the data on the city’s economic landscape. – See more at: http://comptroller.nyc.gov/reports/state-of-the-arts/#sthash.3DN0w6ps.dpuf

 

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Arts Horizons is energized to be part of this vibrant community to share, learn and advance the community of arts-in-education in NYC.  For more information contact Dena Malarek, dena@artshorizons.org

Arts Breakfast with School Chancellor Carmen Fariña

Elizabeth Halverstam, Arts Horizons Executive Director, and Dena Malarek, Director of NYC Residencies and Special Populations, were pleased to attend an open breakfast with NYC DOE Schools’ Chancellor Carmen Fariña. The event was held on the morning of March 4th in the Peter Jay Sharp Room of the New York Historical Society for a conversation about the importance our City’s cultural institutions and arts organizations to public education. As a member of the NYC arts-in-education community, Arts Horizons is excited to see the personal commitment of the new chancellor to provide arts experiences rich with culture, opportunity and learning for the youth, educators and families of NYC.

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Public Advocate Letitia James and Dr. Sharon Dunn, Vice President for Education at the New-York Historical Society introduced the newly appointed chancellor to a room of Museum Educators, Public Educators, and Arts Organizations. In Dr. Dunn’s years of service with the DOE, Ms. Farina is the first to request and meet with the faces of cultural arts in the city on the agenda of the arts. Ms. Farina spoke heartedly of her commitment to the arts while professing an embarrassment that we are the only county to know so little about our own art history. Meanwhile, NYC institutions hold the ability for students to travel and gain experiential background.

 

Chancellor Fariña announced Middle School students as a targeted priority, stating research of 7th grade retention affecting a student’s graduation rate: 9th and 10th grade are too late. She wants to direct priority back to American History using cultural institutions to provide experiential learning in addition to text book learning. Her proposal to organize Teen Thursdays would open up the doors of museum and cultural institutions from 4:00 – 6:00 pm on Thursdays for students to access learning and culture. Further using cultural institutions for teacher professional development allows teachers to build content area expertise. A proposed reintroduction of the ‘Culture Pass’ for principals and administrators will allow free access to cultural institutions, instilling personal interests to translate for their students and constituents. Inclusion families will be a priority, making special note that we must make the invitation and experience accessible by offering programs in various languages.

 

Chancellor Fariña promoted the expansion of after school programs under Mayor Bill de Blasio and declared that the arts will be listed as one of the required elements. The RFP’s for afterschool are being developed. She spoke energetically about the role of the arts to support common core curriculum, art literacy and wants to see more technology related to the arts.

 

For more information contact Dena Malarek, Director of NYC Programs and Special Populations at Arts Horizons

dena@artshorizons.org

Arts Horizons partners with ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School

Arts Horizons partners with ABT’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School to focus on Dancers with Special Needs

On the afternoon of Saturday September 7th, Ballet Faculty with Children’s division of The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theatre held their fall staff meeting. This year a special focus was designated specifically to address special needs of students in the pre-primary program in a workshop with Arts Horizons Director of Special Education and NYC Residencies, Dena Malarek.

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School Children’s Division is a ballet program for children ages 4-12 that promotes discipline and creativity while encouraging each child to reach their highest potential. Classes focus on building a solid foundation in ballet technique with an emphasis on proper placement and safe progressions of movement while remaining sensitive to the developmental needs of younger dancers. The workshop presented by Ms. Malarek was designed specifically for the organization and explored how they might best address the needs of young dancers with special needs with the context of expectations in the pre-professional training environment. Participants discussed relevant disability characteristics as manifested in the dance studio environment and targeted strategies for studio instruction, behavioral interventions and organizational accommodations.

Taking this step to address special needs of young dancers in the JKO children’s division speaks very loudly to recognize the potential for young dancers who may have special needs to be given an opportunity in the world of pre-professional ballet. “It is essential for the faculty and staff to have access to this type of professional development so that we can be responsive to the needs of the student body,” Melissa Bowman, Assistant Principal of the JKO School.

Dena Malarek, Director of NYC Programs and Special Education, joined Arts Horizons in June 2008.  She brings with her over 19 years working in the field of disabilities services.   She is certified as a recreation therapist and sits on the steering committee of the NYC Arts and Special Education Consortium.  As a recreation therapist, her work and volunteer experiences span diverse disability genres and artistic/athletic/recreational milieus.   As a former Director of Day Habilitation for adults with disabilities, she managed educational, recreational and arts programs to facilitate goal development.   She further developed skills as a staff trainer in behavioral crisis management.  A key focus of her programs was curriculum development for adults with mental retardation and autism transitioning out of the special education school districts.  Her current major projects with Arts Horizons including the “Special Education Artist Academy for Arts and Autism” and “Hospital School programs” have been recognized with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Christopher Reeve Foundation, NYSCA, and the DANA foundation.  Dena’s skill set as a manager, trainer, recreation therapist, dancer and educator carefully guide teaching artists to effectively collaborate, educate and influence students with disabilities in partnership with school  and community special education teams.  Dena is also a modern dancer who performs in the New York City Modern dance community and teaches modern dance, jazz, ballet  and yoga, to students with, and without, disabilities.

For more information contact Dena Malarek, Director of Special Populations and NYC Residencies. dena@artshorizons.org

 

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