Arts for All regularly provides artistic workshops at Children’s Village Shelter, a sanctuary for runaway and homeless teenagers in Westchester. On October 15th, Melissa Smith taught a Creative Movement Workshop for the teenagers in the shelter. The workshop consisted of physical warm ups with an emphasis on isolations and personal awareness, authentic movement exercises, interpreting photos into movement and words, room writing exercises, a cool down with physical awareness and relaxation, then finally a talkback. They explored moving their bodies in unconventional ways and Melissa encouraged her students to do things they had never done before and to move out of their comfort zones. They were absolutely willing and participated with enthusiasm! The group was also encouraged to talk about positive things they noticed in their peers and to verbalize their personal responses to the exercises. The take-away from the workshop was that if you don’t have paints or pencils to express yourself creatively, your body is your instrument. You always have it with you so take care of it!
A very special thank you to all of those who help make our programs possible! Today I would like to share some very special poetry created by teenagers in an Arts for All program.
Teaching Artist, Bonnie Pipkin, led a two-part performance poetry workshop with two ninth grade ELA classes at The Green School in Brooklyn. In the first session of the program, Bonnie gave her students a series of writing prompts all centered on the idea of home: Homelessness, Dream Homes, Home Away from Home, and Far From Home. Many students took this opportunity to draw from very personal experiences and deep from their hearts. The classroom provided a safe space for the children to share their work without judgment or expectation. The second session of the workshop was held on stage in the auditorium. After a crash course on slam poetry, they broke into groups to prepare their performances using writing from the week before. The class ended with every student participating in a performance. The final, and very special, element of this workshop was that some of their work was performed by professional actors at Arts for All’s third annual Cabaret Benefit Performance, "Home Is Where The Art Is" held at The Kitchen in Manhattan. Following are some of the poems that were shared:
My dream home is to have marble floors
Black leather couches
White fluffy rug in the living room
I want a black puppy with long ears
I want some palm trees to be in my driveway
I want four kids named Jordan, Monica, Israel and Isabella
I want a black navigator, a white Honda and a black and gold Lexus
Home Away From Home
I’m not at home. I feel like there is something missing. Even though I was born here. I miss my REAL home. Where my parents came from. Where my grandparents came from. Where my whole family came from. My true place where I’m from. Where I know I belong. I feel that I don’t belong here. I wasn’t meant to be here. I don’t feel at home. I belong in Dominican Republic. The place I love.
The place I belong
Far From Home
Home is the boss and the boss is at the last level. Gotta beat those enemies or avoid them, but I gotta start from level one and go on every level an beat it. The weird things is, the boss is my friend.
In the crescent moonlight I lay awake in a never-ending field of grass. As I hear the wind scurrying and bursting through the grass, I think of the pain that still lingers in my heart that yearns for something night after night. I could hear the howls of hounds and wolves. I could feel the sadness and agony in their broken cries. I too knew their pain. Aimlessly I traveled across many fields, overcame many challenges to survive. In time I grew more resourceful, my reflexes sharpened but none of these skills matter. I’m in a never-ending mystery until I come across a hill. I climbed and climbed until I could see my little home.
Thanks to everyone who continues to support Arts for All. We could never serve as many in-need children without you!
Many wonderful Arts for All programs are off an running this year, and many more will be added this month. One of the programs we are thrilled to be running again this semester is our Literacy The Arts Program - and it would not be possible with out your support!The Literacy Through the Arts program is a 32 week program designed for grades K - 2, to better children's reading, writing and verbal expression through a multi-art curriculum. Taught by wonderful teaching artists, Lena Moy-Borgen, Shawn Shafner and Robin Cannon, this program currently runs at PS15, an in-need public school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. This program is unique because of the use of differentiated instruction through various art skills to help increase literacy. We also work very closely with the school teachers and staff, designing each lesson plan and ensuring we are incorporating activities that reinforce what the children are learning in their literacy classes. This is our 8th semester of this exciting program at PS15! We are grateful to be able to sustain such a long-term relationship with this school, due to the generosity of so many individuals! To learn about our other programs, visit our winter/spring 2011 calendar! More will be added in the upcoming weeks!
Happy Holidays! From all of us at Arts for All, we would like to thank you for supporting our organization on Global Giving. This year we have served over 3,500 in-need children through the arts. Without wonderful benefactors like you this would never have been possible! I would like to take this opportunity to share an expereince from teaching aritst, Robin Cannon, who is out on the field for Arts for All a minimum of 4 days a week, and often 5 or 6 days a week!
Anchored in Excellence by Robin Cannon
I make the long trek out to teach a residency at PS69 on Staten Island every Thursday with my pink guitar, Pinkerton, strapped to my back. I teach 3 music/dance classes each week at this school, which is themed Anchored in Excellence. Each week when I arrive, the kids greet me by saying "Aye, Aye, Captain Robin"! And my response is, "Aye, Aye, Crew". We board the "musical ship" for a fun-filled workshop of singing, dancing, and writing a class song.A few weeks ago I headed out to Staten Island as usual on a Thursday. It had been a particulary difficult week. The bus ride was very bumpy and I felt sick as I got off the bus and began the walk to the school. As I came upon the school where the kids were playing outside, there was suddenly a sea of little voices, all shouting "CAPTAIN ROBIN! CAPTAIN ROBIN! CAPTAIN ROBIN". Those cheers made me feel better and pulled me back into reality. These kids need us - they need the arts. They depend on me to bring music to them each week and look forward to my visit with anticipation. More and more arts programming is being cut each year, and this school has no music program for Kindergarten and 1st grade. I am proud to travel out to Staten Island each week and represent Arts For All. It's not always easy, but the effort is worth every bumpy ride! These kids will remember Captain Robin's Music Ship for years to come!
We have recieved a number of thank you letters from children, parents, and in-school staff alike, showing great appreciation for Arts for All, and for Captain Robin! For example:
"Thank you for teach[ing] us steady beats and sing[ing]. We will miss you. You are the best teacher in the world. We had so much fun dancing and singing" - Daniel, Grade 1
"Dear Captain Robin, I love you! I will miss you! I won't ever forget you. You [taught] me good dances and songs and beats and music...It was fun being with you every Thursday....I love Arts for All." - Victoria, Grade 1
This is just one of the many programs Arts for All is running due to the support of individuals like you! With over 30 workshops going out every month we are truly making a difference in the Greater New York City Community. We thank each and every one of you for your continued support, and we wish you the happiest of holidays!
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