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San Rafael, California 94901
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Short School Students Learn Haitian Dance and Folktales with Djenane St. Juste

Djenane Sainte-Juste, assisted by members of her Afoutayi Company, taught music, dance and storytelling across four grades at Short School, with a unifying theme of the unique cultural traditions of Haiti. The program began with a performance by Afoutayi and culminated with student performances at each grade level.

This was students’ second year working with Djenane. They reviewed dance and percussion from last year, and used these as a scaffold for more advanced dance and rhythms. Each grade learned the music and dance of a different Haitian folk dance. In their final performance, every student wore a colorful, authentic costume, most made by Djenane’s mother Florencia Pierre (affectionately known to the students as Fofo).

This was a farewell performance for Djenane, who has already moved to Minneapolis, MN. We miss Djenane and Fofo and Hassan already!

This program is generously funded in part by the California Arts Council, Artists in Schools program. We are also grateful for the wonderful photography provided by Ron Greene Photography.



Travel the World, Lakansyel!

DjenaneInGalleryOn Friday night we gathered here at Youth in Arts to celebrate the opening of the 5th Annual Haitian Dance, Music & Arts Festival.  YIA Mentor Artist Djenane Saint Juste and her ensemble Afoutayi are joining with stellar artists visiting from Haiti for this beautiful celebration of Haitian culture.  We joined in song, dance and celebration in Haitian style.  It was a unique opportunity to participate in cultural traditions with our visiting guests, but you can still catch up with them during the remainder of their festival!

The Festival will feature master dance classes, a Haitian market, food, lectures, and Lakansyel’s premiere, which will run October 10th, 11th & 12th, 2014 at Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco & Marinwood community Center in San Rafael.  Find more information on Afoutayi’s Facebook page.

During the festival Lakansyel will engage the audience through dance, percussion, song, and storytelling and highlight the beautiful mosaic that is Haitian tradition and pay homage to all of the peoples that contributed to the formation of today’s Haiti.

Your school can also travel to Haiti or anywhere in the world through our Travel the World program which includes assemblies, workshops, residencies and Passport events!


Special thanks to photographer Ron Greene for capturing the fun evening.

Upcoming events for Lakansyel:
Dance Mission Theater (
3316 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

1)     Friday October 10th
·         8pm show (cost $20 adv. $25 door)

2)      Saturday October 11th
·         4pm-6pm Master Haitian Dance class (cost $15)
·         8pm show (cost $20 adv. $25 door)

Marinwood Community Center (
775 Miller Creek Rd, San Rafael, CA 94903

1)     Sunday October 12th
·         3pm-8pm Family event ( Cost $5/ Children under 6, Free)
·         Activity: Dance-music classes & Performance/ Haitian Market/ Games/ Storytelling.

Haitian Celebration at Old Adobe

On February 14th students at Old Adobe School in Petaluma celebrated Valentine’s Day AND a celebration of Haitian music, culture, dance and storytelling. The entire school participated in an exciting and enthusiastic culminating performance of a ten week residency with Mentor Artists Djenane Saint Juste, Jeff Pierre and Mama Fofo (Florencia Pierre).

Wearing vibrant costumes and explaining about the languages, history and culture of Haiti, then dancing and playing the drums, Old Adobe students rocked the auditorium. The show closed with the fourth and fifth graders telling the story of “Lasiren & Labalen,” the Mermaid and the Whale.

The entire school ended the show with a rousing rendition of a Haitian folk song. A wonderful performance for all.

Principal Jeff Williamson stated, “As a principal during challenging economic times it is very important to make every dollar serve students well.  Youth in Arts was very attentive to our school’s unique needs and we had several conversations working to make sure our school was matched with an artist that would enhance the education of our children and build artistic capacity in our staff.  Djenane, and her band of drummers, dancers, and story tellers made a great impact on our students, staff, and parents.  The group of artists worked with the entire school community to present a school-wide performance during which each student got to perform.  It was heart warming and brought out high quality artistry in our students. I am already looking forward to the next time I can bring Youth in Arts to our school.”

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