DEI Work, Arts Integration, Program Coordinator & Director
One of the ways to engage with my creative process is through artist residencies. Residencies are tailored to fit a variety of frameworks and work in the professional and community settings as well as the public school systems. It allows me to spend a concentrated amount of time working with a group, sometimes creating something and sometimes just engaging in the process. It’s the journey to creation that I love the most and residencies allow me to be inspired and focus on the creative process.
Tending the Gardens
One of the things I’m most proud of is the decision I made early in my career to be a teaching artist. We weren’t using that term when I started and it was quite confusing to most people for several years. I am fortunate to have Southeastern School of Ballet as a home base for my approach to training young dancers particularly those that have a desire to enter the field. I have worked to cultivate a well-rounded training program in Contemporary and Modern Dance that includes learning about dance in a multidimensional way. Mindset and approach, choreography and rep, improvisation, personal agency, historical and relevant social context, critique and conversation, personal responsibility and work ethic, and over all, community.
It is here that I developed the ‘Tending the Gardens’ concept. It was when I shifted my perspective as a teacher to that of a gardener who nourishes and cultivates and guides and shines light and resources. Allowing each individual flower to grow and manifest, as they should. Meeting each unique and beautiful flower where they stand. Embracing uniqueness and encouraging critical thinking.
Our program has grown so much over the years and I am so proud of the hunger and drive that has expanded our vision and capacity. We now have a guest artists series each spring where students get to engage and learn with dance artists from across the community through master classes. We also have an Apprentice Program for those students who are looking to go beyond the studio.
Teaching is a big part of who I am and where I have developed over many years now, an application of the tribal circle that inspired me the first time I danced to live West African drums. The pulse and fire that was ignited in me is the same fire I aim to ignite in my students. To desire to learn, engage, and evolve.
Southeastern School of Ballet
I teach the advanced level Modern + Contemporary classes weekly as well as provide support and guidance to the faculty teaching the other classes in the Modern + Contemporary Program which include the Beginner/Intermediate Modern and the Beginner Jazz classes. I also organize our guest artist series and run our new Apprentice Program which provides interested students in the advanced level with an opportunity to go beyond the classroom and explore different aspects of the industry and craft through workshops, private lessons, and opportunities to shadow me on professional projects.
I spent many years working and developing the arts program at Logan with the arts team there while I was developing myself. I started that job while still a college student and made the transition to professional as well as the transition from “Emerging” to “Seasoned” artist. I watched my students grow into adults and even taught the children of former students. One of the greatest joys of my life was having a former Logan student who came to me as a high school student wanting to return to dance training and became an apprentice in Vibrations Dance Company. That young dancer went on to train and work with me through college and became one of my professional dancers and is still a collaborator in my work presently. He is traveling the world living his dreams as a professional dancer and his introduction to this world was through his experiences at Logan Elementary.
Many of my school residencies were created from lessons I did with my students at Logan in the classroom. In my time there I helped create the Logan West African Dance Ensemble, after school programming that included dance classes and rehearsals for a performance ensemble called Dancing Paws, and a hip hop dance ensemble for boys as part of my ‘Boys Dance Too’ initiative in my professional work. I wrote several original scripts that we produced and performed in school wide musical plays as well as helped students write and create many original works of their own. I cut my teeth on the framework of arts education and spent many years working, learning and training in arts standards and curriculum. I was able to make the transition to an Arts Integration specialist mostly due to my real world experiences doing arts integration at Logan. I had a great mentor and it was this choice that gave me an avenue to support myself as I began to find work as a young artist. I am truly grateful for my time at Logan Elementary.
Something From Nothing
Using my own creative process and elements of my professional practice, which pulls from movement and dance, music and sound, spoken word and song. Mostly revolving around story telling ultimately, this residency experience is flexible for multiple areas of focus, themes, or inspirations. The goal is to engage in the creative process in a meaningful way. I use a system I call THINK-PLAN-WORK-SHOW to teach students about the full process of ‘show’ from ideas to clean up.
This residency follows the same set up as the ‘Something from Nothing’ residency with a focus on engaging with students to create works based on their own stories. Creating an arts education experience out of telling your own stories.
Black History Matters
These residencies are geared toward engaging with dance and theatre in celebration of achievements and contributions from powerful voices of color. Pulling from inspired black artists like Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Alvin Ailey, and Duke Ellington. Students learn through a retrospective of dances, poems and songs of African Americans throughout history in a series of lessons/experiences that range from learning the Big Apple dance of 1938 to creating an original dance piece inspired by the words of Langston Hughes.
These projects can be expressed in a wide variety of ways that make room for students to celebrate the unique gifts and talents in the room or class. Students also view famous works of art and engage in conversation about their meaning and relevance.
Everybody Dance Now
This residency is geared towards providing dance classes to students in a variety of styles and genres. My approach to learning dance and learning our bodies starts with a series of movement I have developed over years of training professional dancers and actors, working with space, weight, and tempo, and dance making.
This residency uses the dances, music and words of the Harlem Renaissance Era as inspiration for learning and creating. Students learn popular dances, historical figures, and writings from the era and engage in discussion about the people, the music, and the circumstances surrounding the creation of those dances and poems. An interdisciplinary learning experience combining words, sounds, movement, story telling, dance, writing and imagination to create a living museum.
Feet to the Beat
This residency is based in traditional and contemporary West African dance. Students take movement classes and learn traditional dances as well as dance from the contemporary African diaspora. Students also learn about culture, community, improvisation, rhythm and counting, as well as the histories and origins of the dances they learn.
In the case where you and your school have specific requests for what kind of residency you envision, this is the way to go. We can build from scratch the residency experience you are seeking utilizing my methods and strategies for both teaching/training and creating/building performance based art. Included in any residency will be the chance to engage in meaningful conversation about the work we are doing.