In 2009 I auditioned to be a teaching performing artist with the Young Audiences program. YA is a national non-profit organization with a strong presence in Portland. I was accepted as a roster artist and as a result was featured along with hundreds of other artists and musicians of various backgrounds and specialties in their educator's guide. This directory is accessible to all schools in the Portland Metro area as a resource for high quality artists available to teach workshops and residencies. I have created a curriculum to teach in schools involving community square dancing, its history, live music, and community building: Square Roots.
Square Roots brings community square dancing to k-8 students. It incorporates live music, historical relevance, and intentional community engagement through American square dancing. My primary goal is to teach students how the arts, community dancing in particular, serve to strengthen human connection in one's life, community, and culture. Kids who have a positive connection with adults in their community are less likely to fall into delinquent behaviors. A secondary goal is to bridge cultural gaps within the school community by combining classes and promoting acceptance. Bridging reverberates tolerance into the larger community as new alliances are made. And finally, I want students to understand how their specific cultural history has joyfully colored our new national artistic traditions.
In one typical workshop, students collectively discuss their past experiences dancing, learn and participate in 3-4 community dances, and discuss the immediate and percussive physical and social effects of the dances-- all while participating in intentional social engagement with other students to the beat of live music. Each workshop in a residency focuses on a different cultural origin of American square dance history (including Africa, Europe, Native America). Ideally, each residency culminates in a fifth meeting: an all-school, community-wide family dance evening in the gym.
check out: Young Audiences of Oregon's Educator's Guide