917 "C" Street
San Rafael, California 94901
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.
Parading with Florencia “Fofo” Pierre
Short School parents and students celebrated the culmination of their Haitian Music & Dance program with a schoolwide performance, parade and dance party on Tuesday, March 18th. For sixteen weeks, students in grades K-2 have been working with Mentor Artists Djenane St. Juste, Florencia “Fofo” Pierre and Jeff Pierre to learn music and dances associated with the celebration of Kanaval or Carnaval, a major midwinter celebration in the Caribbean. Students have also learned words and expressions in both French and Haitian Kreyòl languages. On this beautiful Tuesday morning, the students were able to share music and dances they had learned with over 70 parents, teachers and siblings!
Jeff Pierre with Short School drummers
Djenane introduced a dance game the children had learned in which they dance without touching a line that represents danger or “sobo”. As the children danced down the line faster and faster without touching it, parents in the audience helped with a call and response from the song Ti Gason (Little Boy) in which the dancers are told piga’w pile sobo, male va rive’w (roughly: “don’t step on danger or you will have trouble”).
Don’t step on the line!
A few parents and siblings even came up to try the dance on their own!
Parents, teachers and siblings try to dance “safely”
Next came a grand parade led by Fofo Pierre with students performing steps they have learned in their classes and teachers and some parents following behind as the “back line”. The grand finish was a circle dance with each class taking a turn dancing in the middle, followed by dancing parents and all the teachers!
Short School teachers dance in the circle
It was a fun event with a great parent turn-out. Thanks to all the students, staff and families of Short School, to Djenane, Fofo and Jeff for their terrific work with the students and to the California Arts Council’s Artists in Schools program for its support of this project.
Djenane St. Juste, Principal Pepe Gonzalez and Fofo Pierre
Kindergarten and 1st grade students at Short School worked with Mentor Artist Angela Baker and assistant Gracie Von Glasenapp to create a mixed media mural. Over the course of 10 weeks students worked with a variety of art media such as sharpie markers, tempera paints, watercolor and collage to explore ideas of family and neighborhood. They also developed art making skills that would contribute to the creation of a 4′X8′ collage and watercolor mural of the neighborhood surrounding Short School.
Students began by sketching family portraits which were painted in tempera paint.
Youth in Arts is embarking on a school-wide Mural Project at Laurel Dell and Short School in San Rafael. YIA Mentor Artist Angela Baker will be working with students and teachers to create two school murals with the theme of “Our World”. In preparation for this project, teachers came together with YIA Mentor Artists Nydia Gonzalez and Angela Baker to explore the theme of the project and how it can connect with daily classroom curricula.
Working from YIA’s “I Am From…” lesson plan, the group of educators explored identity, culture, community and core values, culminating in a group project. Using tracings of their hands, words, images, symbols and some glue, each group created a visual representation of their values and goals as a community of educators.
Now, it’s the kids’ turn! Students will work with their teachers and Angela to conceptualize, design and create their school mural. We all look forward to seeing their work!