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YIA News

Capoeira Angola and Persian Dance at Olive Elementary School

Capoeira Angola with Daniel Mattar

Youth in Arts kicked off an exciting semester of school-wide events at Olive Elementary School with two amazing days of dance and culture through our assembly and workshop program. Capoeira Mentor Artist Daniel Mattar and his International Capoeira Angola Foundation (ICAF) troupe spent a day with Olive Elementary School’s 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students in early March, and Shahrzad Khorsandi and the Shahrzad Dance Ensemble led a fun and informative day of programming in April. In sharing the art of Capoeira with the students at Olive, Daniel and two additional Capoeira artists began by playing music on their hand-made Berimbaus made of gourds and one string, and a Pandeiros (tambourine) while engaging students in call and response songs in Portuguese. After their demonstration, they brought several kids up on stage to practice Capoeira while practicing their call and response songs.

Following the performance and demonstration, each 3rd-5th grade class participated in an interactive workshop led by Daniel and ICAF. We began with mastering the key movements and control necessary to take part in capoeira safely. Some of the movements that we learned were: Ginga, Aú, Balança, Macaco, and Negativa. We then put our new knowledge to use with team exercises and some games of capoeira with a partner!

Persian Dance with Shahrzad Khorsandi

During the second assembly with the Shahrzad Dance Ensemble, director Shahrzad Khorsandi and three members of the ensemble performed a special series of dances for the Persian New Year that had been choreographed and designed by Shahrzad over the last several years. Norouz (“New Day”), the Persian New Year, represents new beginnings, rebirth, and renewal. Shahrzad Dance Company’s Norouz program for 2019, Symbols of Love, brought into focus the true meaning behind this celebrated event and gave students the opportunity to learn about the music, traditions, and cultural relevance of the Iranian holiday today. Throughout the performance, dancers portrayed dynamic characteristics associated with the symbols of: Sabzeh (“Sprout”) which is symbolic for rebirth, Seeb (“Apple”) which is a symbol of health, Samanu (“Wheat Pudding”) which is a symbol of sweetness, Sekkeh (“Coins”) which is a symbol of wealth and prosperity, and Norouz (“New Day”).

Following the performance, participating classrooms returned for a hands-on workshop with Shahrzad. During the workshop, Sharhzad began by showing a map of the middle east in order to find Iran and talk about the geography of Iran/Persia and how this geography has affected the music and dances of each region. We then started with movements from Luristan in West Iran, followed by movements from Azerbaijan in Northwest Iran. During a brief break we learned the Beshkan, a one-handed Persian snap that creates a sound similar to snappiing your fingers but much louder! After the break, we engaged in dance from the Bandar region near the Persian Gulf in Southern Iran and a Persian urban/social dance from Tehran, the capital, using contemporary Persian pop music. The students took turns coming out in the middle of the circle, 2 or 3 at a time, and practiced what  they had learned throughout the day.

 

Youth in Arts is grateful for the collaboration of Principal Olynik, Olive Elementary’s exemplary 3rd-5th grade teachers, and the PTA for making these programs possible!

Ross School Delves into the Realm of Hula

Mentor Artist and Kumu Hula Shawna Alapa’i recently concluded a successful residency at Ross School K-8, sharing: “Hula found its way to Ross School and it was a smooth, flowing journey. Chanting, percussion and melodic tunes could be heard down the halls every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and it brought smiles to many faces.  It was the first time for Hula to be taught in Ross School and the students grew right into it!” Through dance and music, Shawna and her students journeyed to ancient sites throughout the island of Hawai’i, retraced the navigational routes from Tahiti, Hawaii, and New Zealand, where they learned the cultural protocols of a Maori Haka and gained a cultural perspective and understanding of the stories of Maui, one of Hawaii’s legendary icons.

When the Student Performance day came, Shawna says, “I could feel the energy of Aloha buzzing all around us! The kids were excited as their parents and guests took their seats.  The kids all looked fabulous with their silk flower lei on. Kindergarten classes went first with their Hula,  A Hilo Au.  They chanted their hearts out and enjoyed being up on the stage (a star is born) … a very hard act to follow!”

She continues, “However, the rest of the classes stepped up to the lu’au plate and all did fantastic! We chanted, danced and delved into the sacred realm of Hula and reached our destination with awareness, grace, power and joy.” Shawna and Youth in Arts had a wonderful time working with Ross School and are looking forward to sharing and learning with these talented students again.

“Hulo to Ross School for such a wonderful opportunity!”

Past, Present and Future: Teaching History Through Counter Narratives

Past, Present and Future: Teaching History Through Counter Narratives

Youth in Arts Mentor Artist, Eddie Madril (Robert Tong/Marin Independent Journal)

Arts based workshops to foster critical inquiry and civic engagement

Native American Resources from Mentor Artist Eddie Madril

Teaching Native Americans Past and Present

National Native American Museum Exhibit on Native Clothing
Ohlone Curriculum (pdf) Supplemental Resources by Dr. Beverly R. Ortiz, Ph.D.
Native Learning Styles (pdf) On adapting to different Native learning styles
Cultural Conservancy Protecting and restoring indigenous cultures and traditions.

Culturally Authentic Books

The Brown Bookshelf, designed to push awareness of the myriad Black voices writing for young readers.

The Conscious Kid Library is an education, research, and policy organization dedicated to reducing bias and promoting positive identity development in young children. They promote access to diverse children’s books that center underrepresented and oppressed groups.

Lee and Low Books, a family run company committed to publishing diverse books that are about everyone, for everyone. They are dedicated to cultural authenticity.

Diverse Book Finder, a database collection of more than 2,000 children’s picture books featuring people of color and Indigenous people.

Indigenous peoples

Only 1% of the children’s books published in the U.S. in 2016 featured Indigenous characters, and even fewer (1/4 of the 1% = 8 books total) were written by Indigenous authors. The following are by Indigenous authors.

First Nations Reading List – The staff members of First Nations Development Institute have compiled a list of what they consider to be essential reading for anyone interested in the Native American experience.

Elementary School

I Am Not A Number

by Jenny Kay Dupuis and Kathy Kacer, illustrated by Gillian Newland

When Irene is removed from her First Nations family to live in a residential school, she is confused, frightened and terribly homesick. She tries to remember who she is and where she came from despite being told to do otherwise.

You Hold Me Up

by Monique Gray Smith, illustrated by Danielle Daniel

Written to prompt a dialogue among young people, their care providers and educators about reconciliation and the importance of the connections children make with their friends, classmates and families.

Go Show the World: A Celebration of Indigenous Heroes    

by Wab Kinew, illustrated by Joe Morse

Celebrating the stories of Indigenous people throughout time, Wab Kinew has created a powerful rap song, the lyrics of which are the basis for the text in this beautiful picture book.

When We Were Alone

by David A. Robertson, illustrated by Julie Flett

When a young girl helps tend to her grandmother’s garden, she begins to notice things that make her curious. Why does her grandmother have long, braided hair and beautifully colored clothing? Why does she speak another language and spend so much time with her family?

Hiawatha and the Peacemaker

by Robbie Robertson, illustrated by David Shannon

Tells the story of Hiawatha, a strong Mohawk who was chosen to translate the Peacemaker’s message of unity for the five warring Iroquois nations during the 14th century. This message not only succeeded in uniting the tribes but also forever changed how the Iroquois governed themselves — a blueprint for democracy that would later inspire the authors of the U.S. Constitution.

Home to Medicine Mountain

By Chiori Santiago, illustrated by Judith Lowry

Two young brothers are separated from their family and sent to live in a government-run Indian residential school in the 1930s—an experience shared by generations of Native American children throughout North America. At these schools, children were forbidden to speak their Indian languages and made to unlearn their Indian ways. Sadly, they were often not able to go home to their families for summer vacation.  Native American artist Judith Lowry based this story on the experiences of her father and her Uncle Stanley.

Jingle Dancer

by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu

The affirming story of how a contemporary Native girl turns to her family and community to help her dance find a voice.

Tip: Cynthia Leitich Smith has written and/or illustrated many high quality children’s books.

We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga

by Traci Sorell and Frané Lessac

A picture book about gratitude, which features Cherokee words and the Cherokee alphabet. From celebrating “the ancestors’ sacrifices to preserve our way of life” to a Grandmother revealing what the Cherokee name of a newborn baby will be, the people give thanks.

Saltypie: A Choctaw Journey From Darkness Into Light

by Tim Tingle, illustrated by Karen Clarkson

Tells the story of the author’s family move from Oklahoma Choctaw country to Pasadena, TX. Spanning 50 years, Saltypie describes the problems encountered by his Choctaw grandmother — from her orphan days at an Indian boarding school to hardships encountered in her new home on the Gulf Coast.

Young Water Protectors: A Story About Standing Rock

By Aslan Tudor

At the not-so-tender age of 8, Aslan arrived in North Dakota to help stop a pipeline. A few months later he returned – and saw the whole world watching. Read about his inspiring experiences in the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock.

Crossing Bok Chitto: A Choctaw Tale of Friendship and Freedom

by Tim Tingle and Jeanne Rorex Bridges

A fictional picture book inspired by true tales of Native Americans in the Southeastern United States aiding African Americans who were escaping slavery. In what is Mississippi today, the Bok Chitto river was the border between the Choctaw nation and a plantation. Before the Trail of Tears, if an enslaved person escaped into Choctaw land, the slave owner could not follow to catch him.

Middle School

The Birchbark House

By Louise Erdrich

This charming, yet unstintingly realistic novel tells the story of Omakayas, a girl whose name means Little Frog, who is growing up near Lake Superior in the 1840s. This makes a great companion series for those who love the Little House on the Prairie Books

The People Shall Continue

by Simon Ortiz and Sharol Graves

This groundbreaking tale of American Indian history, oppression, and resistance was first written in 1977 and was recently re-released for today’s children. In just 24 pages, this picture book powerfully shares history that spans from first contact with the Europeans to modern struggles against poverty and suffering.

High School

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two

by Bruchac, Joseph

After being taught in a boarding school run by whites that Navajo is a useless language, Ned Begay and other Navajo men are recruited by the Marines to become Code Talkers, sending messages during World War II in their native tongue.

Tip: Joseph Bruchac has written many books for all ages, including multiple creation story books.

Love Medicine

By Louise Erdrich

Won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and introduced many of the characters that populated her subsequent books. The book spans sixty years and centers on the love triangle between members of the Ojibwa tribe living on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in North Dakota

Tip: Louise Erdrich has written an entire brilliant series based on these same characters.

Crazy Brave

By Joyce Harjo

In this transcendent memoir, grounded in tribal myth and ancestry, music and poetry, Joy Harjo details her journey to becoming a poet. Born in Oklahoma, the end place of the Trail of Tears, Harjo grew up learning to dodge an abusive stepfather by finding shelter in her imagination, a deep spiritual life, and connection with the natural world.

There, there

by Tommy Orange

Multigenerational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity, and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people. It tells the story of twelve characters, each of whom have private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Finalist for Pulitzer Prize. Local writer.

Arts Unite Us at Terra Linda High School

Shahrzad Khorsandi, a seasoned teacher and performer in Persian Dance, stepped out of her comfort zone into a new area this semester! She worked with two special day classes at Terra Linda High School through our Arts Unite Us program, teaching Persian dance and music. Though a bit nervous on the first day, she soon fit right in. With the help of the wonderful teachers at Terra Linda she engaged students, encouraging them to take part in playing percussive instruments and dancing and cheering each other on during the performances.

Shahrzad says of her experience, “Throughout the residency, we researched Persian culture, learning about various Persian instruments by watching videos of professional musicians playing the instruments”. Shahrzad was even able to bring in several instruments for the kids to see, touch, and play with. She adds, “We looked at the map of Iran and talked about the various regions of the country, and learned a sampling of various dance styles from each region. In the following weeks each of the two classes focused on one particular region, learning the choreography. While learning the movement patterns, we were exposed to concepts like making floor patterns with circles and line, and directional cues like facing our partner, or facing back or forward, etc.”

The residency culminated in a student performance. Parents were invited and both classes got to see each other perform. Shahrzad shares, “We had a great time and everyone did a wonderful job. It was interesting to see that some kids who seemed shy at first really hammed it up when faced with an audience. After the performance the audience was asked to join the performers in an improvisational social dance with Persian music. All in all, it was a hit!”

Thank you to VSA Kennedy Center, Marin County Office of Education, and the Marin Community Foundation for making these programs possible for our youth and community!

Creative Movement at Marindale

Youth in Art’s Mentor Artist, Risa Dye lead creative movement with the students at the Early Childhood Intervention Center at Marindale School in a ten week residency as part of the Arts Unite Us Program.

In this residency, we started with the basic structure of the brain dance created by Anne Green Gilbert through songs and movement. As Risa got more familiar with the children, she adapted her program to fit their needs and applied her creative and theatrical touches.  Risa loosely explored dance concepts such as speed, levels and size through playful movement guiding songs. As the ten weeks progressed, the students became more and more familiar with her structure and expectations. They gained more ownership over the movement and everyone became more able to play within the structure of the songs.