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!
by Mentor Artist Kaitlin McGaw
In my first teaching artist residency with Youth in Arts, I customized a Common Core/Hip Hop series for four kindergarten classes at Bahia Vista Elementary School in San Rafael’s Canal area.
I used several of the songs from my curriculum to meet these goals, which are outlined at the bottom. In the first week, the students were perhaps a bit shy, learning many new words, formats, and dances with me. By week two, our progress was underway. Our name game “Do Your Thing” gives each student the opportunity to say their name with a dance movement, rhythm or gesture: “I’m Kaitlin… I do my thing!” and hear the class say the name and mirror the movement: “She’s Kaitlin… she does her thing!”
For kindergarteners, learning he/she and do/does are elements of language acquisition. But more interestingly was watching some of the students really come out of their shell over the weeks together, saying their name louder each time. We always give students the option to “pass” – but oftentimes the “pass” I found was merely to provide the student just a few more seconds to think about the gesture or dance move they wanted to share with the class.
The Food Calculator is an original song we wrote in my group Alphabet Rockers. The song includes learning the b-boy move “the wave” along with learning less/more and healthy food choices. For the purposes of this residency, I added a story about the rockstar who brings 1 food each day to share with her friends. (Monday is 1 apple, Tuesday is 2 grapes) The students fill in the blanks for what the foods are. At the end of the story, there is a number sense element played out as they bite 1 apple, pick 2 grapes and retell the order of the foods to the teaching artist. We then use a food calculator to decide which snacks were healthy before going into the actual song as a dance. The kids absolutely adored this song and loved performing it and singing it with me.
At the end of the residency, the students performed for one another, learning terms for “audience” and “performers” as well as expected behavior for both within the arts world. The boys performed “Dynamite” for the girls, and vice versa. They then shared compliments with one another with what they noticed in the performance. It was an opportunity to celebrate the students’ strengths while also reinforcing the ability to say a complete sentence, such as “Josue – I like the way you danced.”
I look forward to working with additional schools to customize curriculum for music/movement with Common Core goals, including adding in beatboxing and rhythm and making letters with our bodies as a way to reinforce early literacy.
Here are the songs I used for the residency:
Suzanne Joyal and Nydia Gonzalez travelled to Castro Valley to offer a hands-on workshop to parents of the Castro Valley Parents Cooperative Preschool. The one-hour workshop introduced parents to a multitude of strategies to introduce preschoolers to art.