Archive for July, 2011

Arts Education Upclose: CityDance’s Circus of the Stars

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Here’s video from CityDance’s Circus of the Stars ELO-CARE program with 2nd and 3rd graders at Wheaton Woods ES!

Arts Education Upclose: Just A Little Taste

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Over the next few weeks, 950 students in six Title 1 elementary schools here in Montgomery County will experience the magic and fun of art.

Week Two:  July 11-15Movement Recipe:  “Just a Little Taste”
By:  P. “Mama El’tsah” Broden

“What if I told you dance could tell a story?”

Hands flew up. Eyebrows furrowed.

There were a few that knew this was very possible indeed.  As a class, we decided that we would attempt the challenge of cooking up a story through dance. This task began with other questions like: “What elements make up a story? What elements make up dance? What do we exactly need in our recipe to create an unforgettable dance to serve to our audience?”

So far this is what we decided:

A dash of characters
One firm theme
3 cups of a plot
Pour slowly into a setting
Stir In music
Add spicy but simple choreography
Add lots of energy liberally

We mixed everyday this week, sometimes adding way too much or not enough of something, we haven’t got it quite ready to bake yet, but we will.

I was reminded of the beauty and importance of taking your time during the creative process. Observing the dancers patiently listen to 17 very different possible songs to use for our soundtrack was a treat. After much deliberation the classes selected three songs.

I didn’t totally agree with one of the selections, but I was outvoted!

Still Mixing……..

Eltsah Broden
Dance

This program is  part of the Summer ELO-CARE program offered to select students in Montgomery County Pubic Schools.  This is the ninth year that AHCMC has had the privilege to work with MCPS on this very worthy program.  ELO-CARE is made possible by a grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program and the Maryland State Department of Education.

Jack’s Wild Irish Adventure

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

So I am back at the Arts and Humanities Council after a month-long stint in Ireland, visiting family and just getting in touch with those fleeting cultural roots that can sometimes be a struggle to get in touch with. That, essentially, is what Montgomery Traditions here at AHCMC is all about. And as a preface to our upcoming segment on Irish folk arts in Montgomery County, I thought I’d share a little piece about my experiences there.

For someone interning for an organization that tries to expand one-dimensional perceptions about other countries and cultures, Ireland can be a little frustrating. Because a lot (and I mean a lot) of my experiences could have passed as travel brochures published by the Irish Bureau of Tourism (unsure if that is a real institution). Folksy landladies really do offer you tea at your bed and breakfast that looks over a verdant green countryside. Some places really do seem to have more cows than people, and possibly more pubs than cows. And those pubs, much more often than not, will have traditional Irish music sessions playing in them from as early as 4:00pm to as late as 2 in the morning.

That, though, was hands down my favorite part. Some of the best music I’ve heard in my life I stumbled upon when all I had been looking for was a place to have a pint. While sessions are certainly not impromptu, they’re not advertised or even booked ahead. While some took place on a small stage, the majority of players sat on barstools or at tables, stopping intermittently to sip at their drinks as if they were simply patrons of the bar like everyone else. The bands don’t tour or sell tickets; they don’t even have names (though one of them really liked that I kept calling everything “super baller”, an Americanism which I retrospectively feel a little ashamed of bringing overseas, even more so when they decided they’d use it as their band name). The music itself isn’t really the point; its the atmosphere that music engenders, the way it makes people feel as they listen to it, and creates a small community out of a room full of strangers. It’s a pretty excellent phenomenon, and it’s probably what I miss the most about Ireland.

But as our upcoming segment on Irish music will reveal, its not something you need to travel all the way to Ireland for. There is a thriving community of Irish musicians in Montgomery County, and you only need to go as far as McGinty’s Pub in Silver Spring to find Irish music sessions of the caliber I saw during my trip. It’s something definitely worth seeing for yourself.

Arts Education Upclose: Embrace the Space

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Week One: July 5- July 8
By P. “Mama El’tsah” Broden

Over the next few weeks, 950 students in six Title 1 elementary schools here in Montgomery County will experience the magic and fun of art…

It all began with the purchase of 6 rolls of vibrantly colored tape, which would play a vital role in keeping the pulse of our dance classes strong.  Red, Green Yellow, Blue, and Purple, were the colors selected to define our official “Stage,” alias “The Dance Space” or “The Dance Island.” This “Island” sits at Wheaton Woods Elementary in room #5, a very large classroom that has been cleared of all furniture except for a computer table, cleaned and the floor super shiny with promise for amazing footwork to boot.  Thank you Ms. Stephy for making space!

After measuring the space with careful footing, a semi-perfect rectangle formed, smiled and said, “Here we go again”!” another summer of ELO!”

I then placed strips of tape within the rectangle to indicate each dancer’s very own VIP dance space spot. Then the moment arrived, the meeting of the fifth grade dancers and me, their Personal Dance Space Tour Guide.  We entered the dance space to begin the process of getting to know each other, developing confidence, and becoming comfortable with different movement activities.

After quick introductions, we began moving right away with expectations, i.e. first establishing our dance spots and then getting to places in 16 counts. Next , it was time to mirror the teacher with a warm-up, Then, embrace the space by walking, moving  or grooving  on different levels, traveling in different ways and freezing in different shapes to the sounds of various styles of music.  Well, it’s official: they all love hip-hop and pop music. Lastly, we tried a keep the tempo exercise called the “rainbow dance.”  It includes a pattern of movements where dancers have to listen to the music and keep the tempo.

Many of the 5th graders were very shy and inhibited while the 4th graders seemed to be a little more comfortable with moving.  Wow! We have a lot of confidence building to do! By Friday, some dancers brought in music and shared improvised movements with the class. It was great!!

In class on Wednesday, we also began the process of creating chalk pastel self-portraits to represent who we are and to decorate our dance space with color and pride.  These dancers are true artists who really focused and took their time on this 3-step project   Wow!! I have done this art project at many schools, and I’m very impressed with Wheaton Woods 4/5th graders!

They were completed by Friday  7/8, I sprayed them all with a fixative to hold the chalk in place then mounted them on different color construction paper to make them pop, now our dance space is beautiful with our creative energy!  We are ready to create in week two!

Eltsah Broden
Dance

This program is  part of the Summer ELO-CARE program offered to select students in Montgomery County Pubic Schools.  This is the ninth year that AHCMC has had the privilege to work with MCPS on this very worthy program.  ELO-CARE is made possible by a grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program and the Maryland State Department of Education.

Arts Education Upclose: Setting Up Summertime Magic

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Over the next few weeks, 950 students in six Title 1 elementary schools here in Montgomery County will experience the magic and fun of art—visual arts, dance, music, theater and storytelling, to be precise. It’s all part of the Summer ELO-CARE program offered to select students in Montgomery County Pubic Schools.  This is the ninth year that AHCMC has had the privilege to work with MCPS on this very worthy program. From time to time we’ll be bringing you reports from the teaching artists who are part of this program to enhance learning skills in children identified as at-risk for academic failure. ELO-CARE is made possible by a grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program and the Maryland State Department of Education.

Week 1:  July 5 – July 8, 2001

Setting Up Summertime Magic
(To be read in a proper British accent, documentary style)

By Erika Conner,  Theater

For the students, the theater portion of Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO) is filled with fun, creativity and imagination.  However, before the magic begins in the classroom, the Creative Kids artists and staff work together to create a space that is nurturing, inspiring and educational.

Beginning with an eclectic collection of children’s books Creative Kids sets the stage for young readers to be engaged in the wonderful world of reading. The books include folktales that have important universal themes of greed, kindness, acceptance as well as having colorful characters and worldly settings allow great opportunities for kids to use their imaginations and enrich their own character development.  Stories like FERDINAND THE BULL and ANANSI tales are rich with characters and traits that all children can easily access and enjoy.

As an artist entering a new room for the first time I think to myself: “Erika, is this space large enough for you to make a spider acting space with your magic masking tape or should you make a rectangle for the first week?”

After I’ve made that initial nail-biting choice, I begin the sticky task of unraveling the spool of tape and applying it to the floor.  “Nail-biting” you may laugh—as I am! But, as an educator and an artist, I’ve learned to appreciate the power of tape on the floor. The tape is magical because it attracts everyone young and old, it beckons people, and it makes them ask (in their minds or out loud) “What is this for? What are we going to do?”

Usually while they are questioning the tape on the floor they are entering the room at a snail’s pace, thus, allowing me enough time to size everyone up.  So in addition to being a defined space for bringing our stories to life, the tape is a wonderful tool for crowd control (bit of a stretch but it works for me).

After I’ve identified the location for where the magic will occur, (the acting space), I think about where to place the classroom behavior expectations. This vital piece of classroom legislation is placed prominently on the bulletin at the eye level of the average second-grader where it can be viewed from every seat. As I will be working with grades K-3 this summer, placement of classroom documents must be well thought out.

In addition to classroom regulations, I’ve place the more fun documentations on another bulletin board.  These fun documents include the five tools for acting.  The placement of the documents on either bulletin board creates a well-balanced Yin/Yang affect in the classroom (the balance is probably more for me than anyone else).

Next, I locate a reflection corner and I furnish it with a chair, just in case someone needs some time to think.  I look around the room to make sure the desired ambiance has been created. Yes! It works!

I take a sheet of chart paper from my magic box along with several markers and draw a colorful series of faces and scribe the words: “WELCOME TO ACTING” with confetti-like dots in the background.  This final document is boldly placed on the blackboard signaling that the magic has begun!

Erika Conner is a teaching artist with Creative Kids. Creative Kids is an inventive and inspiring arts-based and arts integrated programs designed to address state standards and meet the needs of all students in order to help them reach their full potential as a learner and as a creative individual ready to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Arts Education Upclose with Marcie Wolf-Hubbard

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Over the next few weeks, 950 students in six Title 1 elementary schools here in Montgomery County will experience the magic and fun of art—visual arts, dance, music, theater and storytelling, to be precise.  It’s all part of the Summer ELO-CARE program offered to select students in Montgomery County Pubic Schools.  This is the ninth year that AHCMC has had the privilege to work with MCPS on this very worthy program. Over the next few weeks,  we’ll be bringing you reports from the teaching artists who are make this program happen.  ELO-CARE is made possible by a grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program and the Maryland State Department of Education.

Week 1: July 5 – July 8, 2011

Marcie Wolf-Hubbard, Visual Artist

All is going well with my three little Bears—Koalas, Pandas, and Teddys at Broad Acres. I have three groups of about 15 students – all rising K-1st graders. I’m impressed that a lot of the students in my classes already know how to read. Good work Broad Acres teachers, parents and kids!

I have also been working with two great middleschoolers as volunteers which has been a big help with preparation, and having extra hands to assist the Bears.

We made marbleized paper and then created name tent cards on Tuesday. Wednesday, we listened to a story and started a rough sketch to illustrate a scene from the story using setting and characters. The kids really enjoyed the stories and are anxious to start work even though most of them aren’t familiar with making collage illustrations using handmade and marbleized papers. We’ll work more on that on Friday.

It’s nice to see some of the older students I taught last summer.

Marcie Wolf-Hubbard
hubbardsfinearts.com

The Shiny Shell, a children’s adventure book about a boy and a dolphin on a mission to save the oceans. D.Hubbard/M. Wolf-Hubbard