As San Diego’s only Afro-pop band, Akayaa & Bolga Zohdoomah write, arrange, and perform songs rooted in the traditions of Highlife and Afro-Beat, two of the most well-known styles of West African popular music. Akayaa Atule, the band’s leader, songwriter, singer, dancer, and drummer, was born in the village of Gowie in the Upper East region of Ghana near the capital of Bolgatanga.
Deeply rooted in her Frafra ancestry, Akayaa was raised singing, dancing, and drumming the traditional music of this part of West Africa. Throughout her life as a professional musician, she has incorporated a wide variety of song writing, musical styles, and dancing from all over Ghana. Akayaa has teamed with musicians from San Diego to create one of the most unique Afro-pop sounds in Southern California. Not straying too far from the traditional rhythms and melodies of Ghanaian popular music, Bolga Zohdoomah also bring subtle influences of jazz, rock, and other world traditions to the mix. The result is a lively, energetic, funky, and imminently danceable form of African popular music.
The goal of Akayaa & Bolga Zohdoomah is to spread the joy and energy of West African music and culture to the public. The band is flexible and can be tailored to fit any performance venue from school assemblies to major concerts. From a small workshop in traditional drumming and dancing for any age group to a full 7-piece band ready to play a 2-3 hour concert, Akayaa & Bolga Zohdoomah are ready to impart the spirit of West Africa to all who want to experience it!
Assembly, Residency & Workshop Artist - Dance & Music, African
Drenched in the sun-bright rhythms of Africa, singer and drummer Akayaa Atule brings her own flavor of Ghanaian Highlife music to San Diego schools. Akayaa is a native of the Frafra tribe in the Upper East Region of Ghana and moved to San Diego in 2000. The daughter of a master drummer, she learned how to dance and drum almost as soon as she learned how to walk. As a young woman, Akayaa attended the Performing Arts School of Ghana, where she furthered her study of the talking drum and traditional dances. She is currently a dance instructor at San Diego State University and Southwestern College, and at several elementary schools in San Diego through Arts for Learning San Diego. Akayaa received her Master's Degree in Dance and Music from the Performing Arts College in Ghana in 1982.
Asian Story Theater
Assembly Artists - Theater
Asian Story Theater began in 1989, dramatizing Chinese folk tales as a project sponsored by the San Diego Chinese Center. The first production was The White Snake (1989-90), presented at the Lyceum Space Theatre and subsequently toured to county schools, libraries, and recreation centers. In 1991, the company staged its first adaptation based on the 16th century fantasy novel Journey to the West, featuring the Monkey King. Additional productions followed each year. In 1995, the company incorporated as the Asian Story Theater, independent of the San Diego Chinese Center, to diversify programming and expand touring operations to San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Each year since, Asian Story Theater has produced at least one production in pursuit of our mission and to increasingly diverse efforts, including a full-length musical about the artist Paul Gauguin (The Musical Paul Gauguin, November 2011-May 2012), as well as partnering to produce a pilot television episode, based on the 2006 production Shave Ice (December 2013).
The company also produces a continuing a series of annual theater productions linked to the Lunar New Year Celebrations--such as the recent RAM-GIRL and current Monkey in the Mirror. New production partners and collaborators have resulted in shows with an increasing community impact, such as the 2015 Stories of the Sun Cafe, in conjunction with local Japanese and Chinese community organizations, and the upcoming Halo-Halo: Mixed together Stories of San Diego's Filipino American Community (March 2017).
ARTIST STATEMENT: KENT BRISBY, LEADER
I’ve read that most creative artists find their thematic focus as teenagers, often as early as 13 or 14, then spend the rest of their creative lives exploring different permutations. It’s probably true of me. I grew up in a foreign place, among the small minority of Americans around the Pacific Islands of Micronesia. My everyday life was suffused with cultural discovery.
Now as a mid-career playwright, director, and producer, my work has indeed focused on the interaction of cultures, explicitly or symbolically, fueled by research today and perhaps the subconscious instincts of my particular youth. I have written for and helped lead companies committed to African American (including Human I Theatre and San Diego Black Ensemble), Latino (Teatro Máscara Mágica), and Asian and Pacific Islander (Pacific Asian Actors’ Ensemble and Asian Story Theater) folktale and performing art traditions. Other projects seem less obviously connected. But the story of American artists blacklisted in the 1950’s, no less than the Mexican Revolution, are also stories of class-culture conflict. Even my musical about the “French” artist Paul Gauguin is the story of how his voice came to synthesize the cultural dynamics of his time in Peru, the Caribbean, and Brittany, long before his more familiar time in, the Pacific Islands. There is unlimited dramatic potential in exploring and ultimately understanding new and different cultures. In a world where culture clash is so common, with distances shrinking and virtual exposure exploding, there is no more important issue I know to address.
Brass Trinity / Classic Brass Quintet
Assembly Artists - Music
Leader and trumpeter Dirk Koman is a founding member of Brass Trinity and Classic Brass. He has performed with, arranged music for, and produced concerts and CD’s with both ensembles since their inception. Dirk was principal trumpet with the San Diego Gilbert and Sullivan Company and Comic Opera for 17 years and has played with the San Diego Symphony and San Diego Opera.
Trombone player Jim Prindle is in great demand as both a player and teacher/clinician all over San Diego. He has played and recorded with the San Diego Symphony, San Diego Opera, the Starlight Musical Theater, Old Globe, San Diego Comic Opera, the San Diego Chamber Orchestra and numerous touring shows.
Jane Zwerneman has performed regularly with the San Diego Symphony, Lyric Opera of San Diego, Grand Pacific Band, the Orquesta de Baja California, the La Jolla Playhouse and the Old Globe Theater since 1987. She holds both a Doctor of Musical Arts and Masters of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music. She is currently Fine Arts assistant for the Stuart Collection at UCSD.
Trumpeter Doug Meeuwsen received his bachelor of Music degree from Western Michigan University and Master of Music degree from SDSU. He plays a variety of musical styles from classical to commercial to jazz and Latin. He has been a band Director at Mission Viejo High School since 1999.
Robert Larsen has been a professional free-lance tuba player in San Diego for 20 years. He has performed regularly with Grand Pacific Band, San Diego Chamber Orchestra and La Jolla Symphony.
With a strong education mission, Brass Trinity and Classic Brass Quintet passionately believe in the power of music to positively enhance peoples' lives. Young people learn focus, concentration, and self-discipline in their pursuit of music making and listening.
Residency Artist - Visual Art
My first memorable spark of creative excitement came to me when I was in the Fourth grade when I was assigned to compose a rendition of a Vincent Van Gogh. It didn’t matter to me that I essentially just constructing my own copy of a dead artist’s masterpiece. I was too absorbed in the smells of the dripping paint on my palette, mixing colors on my paintbrush and sitting at a REAL easel like a REAL artist. Most importantly, I was overwhelmed by that indescribable rush every artist feels when they know they are falling in love with their craft. It was like Magic.
My job is to provide students with the tools and resources to create their own magic. When I walk into a classroom it is my hope to awaken at least one student to the wonder of art. I am delighted when I can help a students discover the gift of transcendental inspiration. It is no coincidence that I’ve repeatedly heard the same observation exclaimed by young artists over the years, “It’s like Magic!”. When I can provide gentle guidance for the students to create with their own voices, then I have succeeded in my path as an arts activist.
Residency Artist - Music: Show Choir & Musical Theatre
As a Teaching Artist of music and theatre, my goal is to teach children something that they may not have the chance to learn outside of my class. I love to choose music from previous generations that is still relevant today. Children are able to learn about the classics and the history of different songs and shows. I have taught at Ira Harbison Elementary for many years, and have applied this philosophy. The children have flourished and have gained an appreciation for several genres of songs including musical theater, opera and songs from the movies.
I have performed all over San Diego County in numerous roles, singing and dancing. Notable roles include Gigi in Gigi, Tessa in The Gondoliers, Iolanthe in Iolanthe, and Petra in A Little Night Music, all with Lyric Opera San Diego. I currently am a member of the core San Diego Opera Chorus and have been singing with them for 12+ years. In addition to performing professionally, I teach dance, music and theater throughout the county in elementary and middle schools. I am the resident music teacher at Blossom Valley Elementary School and have recently started an after-school musical theater program there that has expanded to other schools.
Residency Artist - Dance
I was born and raised in Japan. I have been dancing since the age of five. When I was seven, I was greatly influenced by one of my favorite ballet /tap teachers who happened to also be a proud cast member of the musical “Annie.” I started dreaming of becoming a pro dancer/educator. I have trained in hip hop, ballet, jazz, tap, etc. in my college. After graduating from college with Bachelor of Arts, I have been teaching dance for all ages and all skill levels in Japan. Since I relocated to the United States, I have been inspired by my fellow teaching artists. I admire how they shared their love through arts with children. It was my life changing moment and so I am privileged to be a part of Arts for Learning.
In my class, Students will learn the fundamental of many dance styles in ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop and more. Through a series of fun and expressive movements to music, students will learn simple choreography, the discipline behind each dance style, spatial awareness, terminology and other potential benefits while they experience the beauty of the performing arts. I believe the importance of the arts and their value in developing our humanity and our culture. I strive to make each student’s experience both a fun and meaningful one. I hope students will experience the joy of dancing, have the opportunity to explore their creative potential and develop both confidence and discipline.
California Rhythm Project
Assembly Artists - Dance
California Rhythm Project was founded in 1996 by Pam Thompson-Spinner, protégé of the legendary Eddie Brown, and has been under the direction of Nancy Boskin-Mullen since 2012. We focus on preserving and sharing the technique and choreography of tap masters from the past and present while also creating new pieces that celebrate rhythmic dance forms and human creative expression. Our performances highlight the continuing development of tap dance as a uniquely American art form.
Students will learn about the cultural transmission of art by experiencing how tap dance grew from traditional dances brought to this country by immigrants and has developed into today’s contemporary style of dance with its connection to urban music. Rich in history, tap is both dance and music, and we love inspiring students to create rhythms with us. Our ensemble performs a high energy, interactive concert featuring music and dance from a variety of eras and styles that illustrates the connection between history, society and art.
Workshop and Residency Artist - Dance and Visual Art
Araceli Carrera received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance Education from Arizona State University in 2001. Her involvement with dance and art has built a strong foundation within her teaching methods. Her interest in art began the moment she held her first pencil and dance entered to build a beautiful relationship with her at the age of 20. During her dance studies she was commissioned to create artworks for dance that inspired dance-works and vice versa in Arizona, Tijuana and San Diego. Collaborating in several dance events allowed her to display artwork that spoke of social and cultural issues on the dance stage. From 2001-2006 she worked intensely through Eveoke Dance Theatre as visual artist, costume designer, company dancer and outreach artist. She was the resident artist at Freese Elementary teaching academics through visual art and dance from 2003-2015. From 2015 to 2018 she worked for High Tech Elementary teaching Art and Dance to grades K-5th. Working with Arts For Learning San Diego as teaching artist, leading community and professional development workshops has been a highlight in Araceli's teaching career. She is the Artistic Director of Danza, Impulse y Arte a San Diego based multi-generational dance company where Visual Art, Modern Technique and Afro Caribbean Dance come together to cultivate and celebrate Art/Dance DIVERSITY.
ArtForm/Skills: Pastels, Watercolor, Acrylic, Drawing, Collage and Paper Mask making.
Lorraine Castellanos has an intense passion for music, evident in her perceptive phrasing and tone, both as an instrumentalist and vocalist. Her ravenous musical fervor combined with a magnetic, weighty voice, and sensitive execution on the Classical Guitar, has commanded a dynamic musical presence in her hometown of San Diego, California. Castellanos holds a Bachelor of Music, Masters of Music in Classical Guitar, and a Teaching Credential from San Diego State University.
Residency Artist / Workshop Artist - Improv Theatre
As a high school English and Theatre Arts teacher for over 7 years in Maryland, I was able to provide an amazing outlet of creativity, support, and engagement for a community of students who were not exposed to the arts at a young age. My passion for working with young people and continuing my own personal growth as an arts performer, facilitator and trainer has led me into the fulfilling world of being a teaching artist. I have been performing and teaching improv theater and communication strategies to adults and children since 2005. Currently, I am a performer and teacher with Finest City Improv. I am the former Education Director for the Baltimore Improv Group, and a former Teaching Artist for Young Audiences of Maryland. Some of my favorite moments as a teaching artist come from working with a Summer program with Baltimore City School children where we witnessed dynamic growth in both math and literacy understanding because we engaged the students with the arts.
I teach improv theater---and the key elements of improv: Listen, Agree, and Add---which are wonderful tools for not only classroom content, but classroom climate as well! My favorite guideline of improv is “make your partner look better than you.” With this in mind, students are collaborating and problem solving while taking risks in order to create art together. Improv theatre can be very funny! And we create the best comedy when we are honest, empathetic, supportive, and in the moment. These skills are needed in our children and in our communities and I love to watch a student really find their own sense of humor while supporting their peers. A program with me will be interactive, fun, engaging, and will be able to reach students of all ability and social levels.
Residency Artist - Poetry, Theater, and Arts Intervention
Holding a BA in Ethnic Studies from the University of California San Diego, Diana Cervera is an artist and educator whose work navigates the intersections of art and social justice. Diana facilitates identity-based workshops and lectures using poetry and theatre as a point of departure to engage in complex conversations about equity, race, representation and the power of the counter-narrative. She has hosted workshops throughout universities and community spaces in California, Boston, Puerto Rico, Mexico City, and Guanajuato, Mexico.
Residency Artist - Theater
I am an educator, dancer, performance artist, and writer who has been featured in numerous international dance conventions, publications, film, television, theater, and stage productions. As an educator, I have lead classrooms and professional workshop series in universities and conferences all over the world.
There are two important principles that play a role in the success of every student in my classroom: authority and empowerment. I encourage students to take ownership of their learning. I empower students to perform, create, write, and dance with authority while giving them the tools needed to improve and enjoy their artistic and academic experiences. With my love for the performance arts and language, I show them the value of collaborative learning; the value of collaborative work; and the value of their voice. I hold a BA in Theater from Dillard University and an MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University.
Workshop Artist – Visual Art, Fiber Art
As a child, I spent many of my formative years in a small ranch in Queretaro, Mexico where I learned the arts of embroidery, sewing, and crochet from my mother and her sisters. As an artist, I love to spend my time creating elaborate embroidered skirts and wall hangings inspired by the nostalgia of growing up in the countryside. Chickens, cows, and colorful flowers are constants in my pieces. I love working with vibrant colors and exploring new stitches.
As a Teaching Artist, I try to incorporate as much of my fiber background as I can into the lessons I teach. Whether it is by having students draw on fabric rather than paper, or having them create a collaborative collage art piece inspired by quilts, fiber will always find its way into my teaching practice.
I believe that children have voices that need to be heard. As an educator, it is my responsibility to assist them in using their voice to create amazing works of art.
Residency Artist – Visual Art
I spent many summers as a kid learning how to draw and use art materials from San Diego artist and teacher Joe Nyiri. Many years later, after receiving my B.F.A, I found Joe's phone number and gave him a call. I was able to thank him for teaching me and inspiring me to reach for my dreams. I hope to get a call like that from one of my students some day.
Through over a decade of teaching, I have honed a teaching style that encourages students to balance creativity and imagination with technique and skill. I strive to help students discover a process in which they are able to express themselves creatively while also teaching application techniques, color theory and the Elements and Principles of design using diverse art media like watercolors and tempera, oil and chalk pastels, collage, and oil and acrylic paint. Along with the young students I teach, I have also been teaching adults how to make art through different companies and studios in San Diego. I also host my own workshops and private classes both in person locally and from around the world via webcam.
Part of my artist statement is effective at describing why I make my paintings: “The images I create are designed to find a crack in your consciousness, to seep into your mind and spark your imagination.” Whether it is through my art or teaching others how to express themselves creatively, my biggest goal is to inspire.
Residency Artist - Visual Art & Arts Intervention
I consider myself a process-based visual artist, and an abstract intuitive painter. Ask any of my students and they will tell you that in my classroom the most important rule is: MISTAKES WELCOME! The freedom to make mistakes and benefit from them is the basis of intellectual growth. I strongly believe that we are all artists, and it is an honor for me to nurture the creativity that lives within each of my students. I aim to provide my students with opportunities to discover, to wonder, to play, to engage their senses, to be human and make mistakes, and to fuel their own imagination as they proclaim, “I AM AN ARTIST”!
I hold a Master’s of Public Health degree from Columbia University, and I spent the first twenty years of my professional career as a community organizer. I am currently working on my Master’s Degree in Expressive Arts with a focus on peace building and conflict transformation from the Expressive Arts Institute and the European Graduate School. It was through this program that I first experienced the healing and transformative capabilities of the arts and I am passionate about sharing these gifts with others. I am also deeply committed to the presence of arts integration in our schools and believe wholeheartedly that arts helps us to make sense of our world. The arts provide an opportunity for self-exploration and expression where one might not otherwise exist.
Residency & Workshop Artist - World Music/Percussion
I have been immersed in a wide variety of art forms since I was born, and lucky enough to experience puppetry, theatre, dance, music and visual arts during the many stages of my life. My parents had a Puppetry Arts & Music Theatre Company, and I have gratitude for the consistent presence of the arts in my childhood because of that. As a result I have also chosen to participate in those disciplines and have always loved to do so. Now that I have the opportunity to share my experiences as a teaching artist, I have focused on music as my field of expression and pedagogy.
I studied Music in Mexico City, wherein I served as a Music Teacher Assistant for several years. During this time, I learned how to implement different techniques and methods to bring the basic foundations of music to new students, an experience that has been key to develop my own original ways of teaching Drumming and Percussion. I believe in the importance of giving students a comprehensive, natural, joyful and intuitive rhythm approach as they learn music that will provide a strong should they pursue further musical studies in any instrument. World drumming provides a very resourceful tool to talk about a variety of cross-curricular subjects in the public school setting.
Residency & Workshop Artist - World Music/Percussion
I’ve been lucky enough to live in different cities, in different countries, which has allowed me to experience part of the vast richness of cultural diversity existing in our world, both as a human being and as an artist. My travels have also taught me that artistic expression is a universal and necessary language for every single person on the planet. I studied Arts and Music in Mexico City, and it’s been more than 30 years since I taught my very first workshop to students. My last ten years of teaching have been exclusively focused on world drumming and processional arts.
My teaching specialties include world drumming/percussion, giant puppets, processional arts, and murals; all of which I can link with any curriculum subject. What these art forms have in common is that they are community celebratory arts and collective efforts that bring the participants a vast array of experiences including satisfaction and unparalleled joy.
Residency / Assemblies Artist – Classical Indian Dance (Bharatanatyam Artiste)
Bharatanatyam for me started out as an after-school activity to channel my energy. But even at the tender age of 7, became my defining factor. Hailed a child prodigy, I performed my solo debut at age 7 and dance has shaped every aspect of my life ever since. Although academically l earned degrees in Electrical Engineering, my true calling has always been Bharatanatyam. Having worked in Technology for a few years, I gave it up to follow my heart.
Today as an internationally recognized performer and teacher of the art form I am very thankful to be able to live my passion. When I teach, I aspire to pass on my passion of dance & art to my students. To enable them not only to understand the movement language of Bharatanatyam but experience the transcending power of art through the sheer joy of movement. I believe in holistic understanding of dance and integrate the historical, mythological and cultural context of Bharatanatyam and Indian culture as part of the curriculum. They learn the intricate rhythmic and gestural language of Bharatanatyam as a dance form and a powerful medium of storytelling. Various Indian mythological and cultural stories are also taught as part of the curriculum. Through my residencies I aspire to enable each child to express themselves through movement as well as for them to have an appreciation for the culturally diverse society that we live in today.
Residency Artist - History and Evolution of Jazz Music
History and Evolution of Jazz Music
In 1987, under the leadership of U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jazz Music was recognized as "a rare and valuable national American treasure." It is DuBois’ desire to keep this tradition of music alive by imparting her knowledge and passion for Jazz to students of all ages. Her program incorporates geography (the slave trade and the great Jazz migration), science (sound), history (of not just Jazz but comparing where all instruments used in Jazz music come from), social studies and, of course, music and music theory! At the end of the residency, children will perform several pieces of Jazz music as well as an original blues song accompanied by professional musicians.
DuBois’ original style has been evolving since she began singing at the tender age of three and she credits her wide variety of influences, ranging from Joan Armatrading to Jon Anderson, and Joni Mitchell and Betty Carter to Billie Holiday. When not performing traditional Jazz, she’s singing her originals with all her heart. She calls her style Evolutionary Jazz.
DuBois holds a BA from San Diego State University and studied vocal performance at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.
She was Co-Executive Director and Teaching Artist for SoCal Jazz Society, where she began teaching the History and Evolution of Jazz to children from kindergarten age through high school, and how teaches this same program for Arts For Learning San Diego.
Residency & Workshop Artist - Dance & Visual Art
When I was 4, I was shy about applying my choices on a big, beautiful coloring book page. It showed a boy wearing a propeller-topped cap, riding a big front-wheeled bike. The page was about as tall as I was at the time. I asked my mom how to color it. She smiled and told me to hold a crayon and move it on the page. "So easy," I thought, "I can do that!" I scribbled the whole a page, in a vibrant aquamarine. Top to bottom, left to right, in one color of my choosing. All mine!
As an educator, I strive to teach the arts as ways for children, teachers, and parents to make their own choices in exploring, representing, and deepening the understanding of their own experiences. In my classes, we discuss the essential elements of an activity, be it technique of holding a crayon for a coloring book, the arrangement of a collage illustration, or the levels, gestures, and speeds of a creative movement sequence, and delve into the wonderful world of possibilities in making such projects. We work to identify the choices made as well as the significance and reasons for those choices. While artists will share similar subject matters and mediums, each will produce unique works, reflecting their individual choices. In my dance classes, we often collaborate to create sequences, formed from movements created and refined by the students themselves.
Residency Artist - Visual Art (Drawing and Comic Book making)
Growing up in a family of educators, the conversation often centered around student engagement, parent involvement, and classroom environment dynamics. As such, when the opportunity to bring my passion for fantasy and science fiction art into the classroom, I jumped on it. I’ve been working primarily as a teaching artist since I graduated from Arts for Learning’s Teaching Artist Institute in 2016. I specialize in the visual arts, drawing and illustration— more specifically the storytelling, world-building and character creation involved in comic book making. I often share my comic book work with my students, juxtaposing it with my art from elementary school, showing them the growth potential that we all have as creators.
There’s nothing quite as spectacular to me as helping a student uncover their own ability to create a magical world where they have the power to become anyone/thing they want to be; a concept which flows synergistically into real world social-emotional application. Seeing such changes happen over the duration of a residency continues to be one of the most inspiring aspects of my life. I look forward to meeting, learning with and from you and your students in the future.
Residency Artist - Visual Art
I am a sculptor, furniture maker, ornamental metalworker, performer, educator, and dreamer. I love building inspired and inspiring pieces that create a sense of wonder and invite people in. I’ve spent much of my life on stage- dancing, acting, and designing sets and props. This has affected my work greatly, making the performance and interactive elements key. I have an MFA from San Diego State University and a BFA from California College of Art as well as Teaching Artist Certification from Young Audiences.
I love sharing my passion with people of all ages and am available to create custom work as well as offer one-on-one and small group art classes in a variety of media. Please visit my website to learn more about what I do! www.Rebecca-Goodman.com or find me on Facebook www.facebook.com/RebeccaGoodmanArt/
Residency Artist - Dance
Bio coming soon!
Residency Artist - Music & Musical Theatre
I began my life in music and theatre as a child in Cleveland, Ohio. As a singer and performer in numerous local productions, regional theatre, and national touring, I loved being onstage for over 20 years. After my sons came along, I decided to work on the other side of the curtain as a Teaching Artist. I never expected to find that as "Ms. Julie,” I love teaching children even more than being onstage!
In my classes, we explore foundational musical concepts like pitch, steady beat and rhythm, and we apply them to singing and dance. Younger students (grades K-1) learn to read music, play recorders, and compose simple pieces. Older students (grades 2-5) deepen their understanding and broaden their ability to sing and play more complicated music on their recorders and ukulele. Every day of teaching is an inspiring and joyous journey that can fuel the classroom and the students with confidence, creative thinking and the love of music!
As a dedicated teaching artist for Young Audiences/Arts for Learning San Diego since 1998, I have enjoyed providing music and theatre instruction at over 55 schools in San Diego County, and was honored to be chosen as Teaching Artist of the Year in 2008.
Residency & Workshop Artist - Visual Art
I am an environmental artist who loves nature and is passionate about reusing materials. I love giving people the time and space to connect to their creativity through open-ended, reusable materials. I am an Artist-in-Residence at Cabrillo National Monument. In my art, I am exploring “the edge” of Cabrillo – which translates to this environmental edge that we are balancing on. I am deeply concerned with the plastic ocean pollution problem, and through my art and teachings, am empowering children and their families to make more sustainable everyday choices to respect themselves and our planet.
I am an ideas person and especially love to connect art experiences to the classroom curriculum. I believe in the process of art and in giving children opportunities to relish in the process of creating. Once in a Kindergarten class, I asked my students to tear paper to make collages. They were so afraid of not having perfectly cut lines that they were hiding scissors under their desks and cutting the paper instead of tearing. I realized that many students have forgotten how to think outside the box, especially artistically. I give them time and space to create, so they can express and soar! In my art classes, your students can expect to learn the elements of art through process-based art activities that connect to nature and sustainability. We can explore drawing, painting, collage, clay, sculpture, nature art, movement and theater.
Stacie Birky Greene
Residency & Workshop Artist - Visual Art
I decided to become an artist at an early age, as I was possessed with a heightened attention to visual detail and in love with the sensual delights of the processes involved with making art. There is nothing quite like the feel of the brush as it releases newly mixed paint on a canvas or the sound of charcoal scraping across art paper. I pursued art since I was a child, earning degrees in painting and art history and have worked as a practicing artist for over twenty years. The subject of my art has always centered around nature and its interaction with humanity, which I have explored in a variety of media: paint, drawing, photography, murals and installation.
I believe in providing a warm and open classroom environment where students learn the fundamentals of art, for example, portraiture, still life, landscape, color theory and art history. These subjects are explored while fostering a sense of creativity and personal expression. My projects have connections to math, science and the social sciences, and I make a special attempt to link our work with coursework students encounter in other disciplines. I feel the visual arts open doors that can empower a student, helping them to develop confidence and individuality by embracing both the intuitive and the rational, and providing a framework for creative thinking that is applicable to a broad variety of study.
Residency Artist & Credentialed Teacher - Visual Art & Arts Intervention
I bring a unique background of experiences and skills to Arts for Learning San Diego. As an elementary school classroom teacher I was able to infuse art into my school curriculum. As a parent of a child with Down syndrome I understand the importance of using art as a means to communicate and inclusion. As an artist I have never stopped creating over the course of my life. Having a Masters in Art Education give me the understanding of the Methodologies of art education. Finally, my training at the Expressive Arts Institute tied it all together – artist and teacher.
My philosophy is that art is fun, expressive, beautiful, and that all children should have access to an art education and experiences. I believe art is a window, an opening for us all to see the world and express our relationship to it. In my art program students will be expose to a variety of materials, skills, and artists. They will use clay, make masks, explore drawing materials, paint, create puppets, and they will sing. The theme of identity runs though most of my lessons. Art will be used as a window for children to learn skills but more importantly to also explore who they are. I am passionate about teaching art to children and I have seen happiness, power, beauty, and personally been inspired by my students.
Residency Artist - Visual Art
I was ten years old when my dad taught me how to use his old 35mm Canon AE-1. From that day on, the camera became a tool for my self-expression and my creativity began to blossom. I started to explore and see the world in this whole new perspective. It was beautiful and exciting. Photography has always intrigued me because of its natural ability to quietly borrow moments of time. My passions range from darkroom photography, fashion and mixed media. As an artist, I am on a constant quest to learn and apply new techniques to my craft. My work continues to evolve through each new experience of my journey.
Art has always been a part of my life, and creating it helps keep me grounded. As an educator, I find myself exploring and seeing the world with that same excitement I had as a child. I try to engage that same sense of curiosity into my classroom. There is beauty in each conversation and moment I share with my students. Every project begins with that conversation, and spurs ideas, which turn into goals. As the weeks progress, these ideas come alive through photography, ceramics or fashion. In my classroom, you will find students eager to refine their work after critiques, allowing their original idea to grow as they reach their goal. My specialties include arts photography, ceramics, fashion, visual art of all kinds, and arts integration.
Residency Artist / Workshop Artist - Theatre, Improvisation, Arts Integration
Cory Hammond is a San Diego native and attended the School of Creative and Performing Arts. Her love of theatre began in the fourth grade - if there was no opportunity to perform in a play, she would write one herself. She is an improviser, actor, playwright, and arts educator. She earned a BA in Theatre and a teaching credential in English from San Diego State University. She has also studied Shakespeare and clowning at the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England, is a founding member of SDSU’s improv team, Iota Eta Pi, and has studied at The Groundling’s school in Hollywood. She performs improv regularly with Old Town Improv Company. In her spare time she is a wife and mother to a future triple threat. She has always made sure the arts had a place in her life.
Artist's Statement: As a Classroom teacher, I taught English, English Language Learners and Drama for five years and integrated theatre in all subject areas without really realizing it. My specialty is Improvisation, which I teach through the lens of a collaborative ensemble. Students learn to say “Yes…and,” always supporting their partner both onstage and in life. I believe that Theatre is a language that can allow students to express themselves in many different ways. I love the way Theatre can allow the kids who normally can’t “sit still” to be successful, to learn and explore in new ways.
Residency Artist - Theatre & Dance
Growing up in Pittsburgh, I trained with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Point Park University. I studied theatre at the Pittsburgh Playhouse Conservatory, Carnegie Mellon University and I trained throughout New York City and Los Angeles. I have performed in numerous musical theatre productions, dance theatre companies and theatrical touring companies as well as performing in film, television and voice over work. Teaching credits include: Point Park University, University of Pittsburgh, Irene Kaufmann JCC, Millenium (L.A.), Malashock Dance, San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet and Mary Murphy’s Champion Ballroom.
I have choreographed over 15 full length dance concerts, directed and created original choreography for over 40 musicals and ballets, choreographed for a feature film with star Oscar Isaacs, written plays for children's theatre, and worked on every artistic aspect of performance production. I am currently Executive Artistic Director of San Diego Creative Arts Project and I am so proud that my former students have gone on to perform for Disneyland, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Cirque Du Soleil, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, and have appeared in film, and television. I believe that a dedication to creativity, proper training, and artistic integrity while encouraging students to explore their creativity in a nurturing and confident environment is what sets a higher standard for excellence in the performing arts.
Jim Hornsby, M.A.
Residency & Workshop Artist - Poetry/Literary Arts
I've been a Teaching Artist in Poetry with Arts for Learning since 2004. I'm also the Poet-in-Residence at Juvenile Court & Community Schools and Lasting Recovery. I teach poetry to adults at San Diego Writers, Ink where I serve on the Program Committee. I am on the Advisory Board of the Poetic Medicine Institute in Palo Alto and host the Jihmye Poetry Open Mic at the Cafe Cabaret in Normal Heights.
I create a container of safety and cultural respect that allows students to touch their own humanity by writing and speaking their truth whether I’m teaching poetry on an Indian Reservation, in Juvenile Hall, with substance abusers, with beginning or seasoned writers, with adults or with youth, at a university or in the barrio. There is a miracle in poetry waiting to happen to any student who is willing to pick up their pencil and write (whether they are at, below, or above grade level). Children are natural storytellers and respond in amazing ways to narrative poetry and teaching that is fun, relevant, and inspiring. I take great pleasure in teaching with those particular ingredients in “my curriculum stew”.
Japanese Music Trio
Assembly Artists - Music, Japanese
Japanese Music Trio is an entertaining musical ensemble that brings traditional Japanese music to students. Formed in 1985, the current ensemble consists of members Masazumi Mizuno, Grace Takeuchi and Jonathan Crick, all with strong teaching backgrounds in each of their respective instruments. The trio performs on traditional classical Japanese instruments – Koto: a 13-stringed instrument resembling a zither; sangen, a 3-stringed instrument similar to a banjo; a 17 gen, a stringed bass koto and a Shakuhachi, an instrument resembling a flute made from bamboo.
The performance performs both traditional and contemporary Japanese music and invite the audience to sing-along and to read lyrics in the Japanese alphabet.
Assembly, Residency & Workshop Artist - Dance
Dance saved me! Shortly after my father’s death, and the death of a high school boyfriend, I was forced to try dance in high school PE. It became an outlet for my expression, a coping mechanism, and a place for me to celebrate my individuality. Now dance is my passion, my job, and my mission field; watching people, young and old, discover expression through movement is pure joy. I have been fortunate to teach and create performances for people from San Diego to Europe. Some of my experiences include: college instructor since 1988, Artistic Director for Mojalet Dance Collective, and I have also has the privilege of working for Arts for Learning since 1989 sharing the art of expression through physicality in dance.
The classes I teach, and the performances offered by my company, Mojalet Dance Collective, offer a variety of methods to make every child successful. The integration of common daily activities, combined with accessible themes helps students relate to the material. Three programs offered by Mojalet Dance Collective, Athletic Motion Dancing Through The Pages, and Enchanted & Endangered are specifically designed to motivate students to be active, enjoy literacy and be environmental conscious through fun, playful, and physically challenging movement.
Workshop Artist - Music, Jazz
In the wake of the economic crisis of 2008, aspiring musician Steph Johnson made a brave choice: The singer/guitarist chose to abandon her 12-year career in banking and pursue her dreams of making music full-time. It wasn't the only time the intrepid Johnson would eschew the safe decision. In 2011, Johnson had already released two albums and was clearly on the way up in the soul/R&B musical genre with jazzy undertones. In fact, her second CD won a San Diego Music Award for "Best Jazz Record.”
Later that year, Johnson didn't just switch horses in mid-stream, she switched streams. A chance encounter with double-bassist Rob Thorsen in the green-room at the KSDS Jazz 88 Ocean Beach Music & Arts Festival led to a drastic change in direction that soon found her leaving behind a fine-tuned band -- with pianist Leo Dombecki and drummer Jesse Charnow -- and a devoted following for the relative insecurities of a life in jazz. She formed the Steph Johnson Trio with Thorsen and young drum master Fernando Gomez.
"I didn't really realize at the time what a risk I was taking," says Johnson. "I just knew that [jazz] sounded more interesting to me. Some of my audience has gone with me, and some haven't, but I had to go with my heart."
Residency Artist - Visual art, Cartoon Creation
I started drawing all the time when I was 5 years old. I was then mentored by French painter Sophie Plassard. For 12 years, I studied mostly drawing and painting and gained experience in oil painting under her tutelage. I attended the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California where I graduated with a Bachellor’s degree in Illustration with a Minor in Entertainment Art. In addition to my college education, I had the honor of working collaboratively with a number of notable artists such as Pia Stern and the late Arland Baron, with whom I learned traditional Disney animation and character design. I am a working artist and have a website displaying some of my work at www.austinjohnjones.com. Since graduating from the Art Center, I have been teaching people of all ages, both in schools and private practice. I graduated from the Teaching Artist Institute in May of 2016.
My favorite thing about creating art is that it has no limits. When I am alone and have the materials, I can create whatever I want. I would like to share this feeling with my students to help them create stories that can be understood in a visual way. The role of an artist is to create stories with visual images that interact with an audience so that the story is seen in the way the artist presents it, and in the way the audience perceives and interprets it. Visual storytelling allows my students to express thoughts and ideas to others.
Workshop Artist - Theater
Levi Kaplan is a director in San Diego and a Teaching Artist with San Diego Junior Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, and Arts For Learning San Diego. Recently Mr. Kaplan was the Director of Theatre at Woodward Academy in Atlanta, GA, and a board member of Curtain Call Youth Players in Marietta GA. Mr. Kaplan has trained with The SITI Company/Anne Bogart and continues his Viewpoints work in San Diego. Mr. Kaplan is a proud graduate of the MFA Directing Program at The Theatre School-DePaul University. Prior to his conservatory training, Kaplan received his BFA in Acting from Auburn University.
Mr. Kaplan has directed for a variety of companies in Chicago, Atlanta, Florida, and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Mr. Kaplan also served as the Founding Artistic Director of The Acorn Theatre in Tampa Fl. Highlights of Mr. Kaplan’s design work include designing lighting for Walt Disney World. His past teaching credits include The University of Tampa, Woodward Academy, and Hillsborough Community College.
Residency Artist - Dance/Creative Movement and Visual Art
Ellen Kaz is originally from Chicago and has lived in San Diego for four years. She began her dance training at the age of five in ballet, jazz, tap and character dance in Chicago. Then she discovered modern/contemporary dance and studied with Nana Shineflug, dancing in company with Lin Shook. Upon moving to the East Coast, Ms. Kaz trained in the Master of Fine Arts program at Smith College for two years; studying, teaching and dancing in the contemporary companies of Wendy Woodson, Jim Coleman/Therese Freedman and others. Some of Ms. Kaz's most exciting moments were working under Bebe Miller (Chicago), Liz Lerman (Chicago and Northampton, MA), and Meredith Monk (New York).
Ms. Kaz offers young people creative expression through dance and movement, with the benefit of positive body image and a bigger picture on the experience of being human.
Korean Classical Music and Dance
Assembly Artists - Music & Dance, Korean
This ensemble brings authentic and beautiful dance and music of Korea to its audiences. Founded in 1973, under the artistic direction of Dr. Dongsuk Kim, this Southern California-based company, is recognized for its performance of ceremonial and social dances that are an integral part of Korean culture. The performance also includes traditional music performed on Far Eastern instruments such as the KaYakum (a 1,500 year old stringed instrument).
Workshop Artist - World Music
With countless recordings and performances to his credit, Mark Lamson is highly sought after for his integrity, experience, and expertise in a broad range of musical styles. While Mark’s repertoire includes R&B, rock, latin jazz, New Orleans brass band, funk, country and hip hop, his true mastery and passion lies in fusing the popular and traditional music of Brazil and Cuba with modern American and Latin American styles. One of Mark’s greatest achievements to date has been the creation, recording and performance of Bata Ketu with San Francisco musician, Michael Spiro. Conceived as a fusion and interplay of Afro-Cuban and Afro-Brazilian folkloric music, Mark and Michael produced the CD in 1996, and it is hailed around the world as being a landmark recording. It is registered with the Smithsonian Institute and has received funding from the Rockefeller Institute.
Mark is the Director, Manager and lead percussionist for SOL e MAR, a dynamic Brazilian/Latin and Caribbean music and events collective which he co-founded in 1985. Mark has performed with Sergio Mendes and The Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl. He has also played with Harry Belafonte, opened for Ivan Lins and The Neville Brothers, and has performed at numerous jazz, Carnaval, and street festivals including San Diego Street Scene, San Francisco’s Carnaval, the Stanford Jazz Festival, and the Mardi Gras Ball at the Palladium in Hollywood, CA. As a Production co-ordinator, Mark has been contracted by numerous Fortune 500 clients to plan and produce large scale events with up to 10,000 in attendance. Mark is considered a key go-to person for quality entertainment by San Diego’s top event planners. Mark is recognized around the globe for his abilities as an educator and workshop clinician.
In addition to serving for twenty years as an adjunct faculty member at San Diego State University, Mark has served for sixteen years as a faculty member for the prestigious California Brazil Camp. Mark most recently served in the capacity of adjunct faculty in the World Music department at Santa Clara University in San Jose, CA and in the past, has been on the adjunct faculty for CSU Long Beach, Palomar College and has been a guest lecturer and conducted clinics at UCSD, UCLA, Portland State University, Wisconsin State University, Lawrence University, Tulane University, Arizona State University, Univeristy of Arizona, UC San Marcos and has conducted numerous International workshops. In 2013, Mark was commissioned by the U.S. State Department to conduct an Artist in Residency in Monterey, Mexico.
Residency Artist & Credentialed Teacher - Music
I come from four generations of classroom and music teachers. I started as a classroom teacher and musician, who ran several children’s music groups. Then in 2010 became a music-teaching artist. My life is teaching; my passion is music. As a teaching-artist I bring a love of children’s music, skills to play multiple musical instruments, and years of training and experience teaching pre-school to adults. I am excited to have this opportunity to connect more students to a lifetime of music.
My general music program is California VAPA: Music Content Standards based, Common Core compliant, with Webb’s Depth of Knowledge questions, hands-on, sensory based program of children’s music with dance, rhythm instruments, real instruments from all instrument families, cultural instruments, music notation and terminology, opportunities for students to create rhythms, lyrics, choreography, and written compositions. My students don’t just listen, I put instruments in their hands, show visuals, and get them to feel and move with the music. Connections to local musicians, groups, children musicians, local opportunities in music, and cultural pride are an important part of my lessons. I also bring tremendous enthusiasm to my lessons with the intention of inspiring students to seek music in their lives and become life-long musicians and music lovers. I truly believe, that academics help our students make better lives, but music makes their lives worth living. I’m their connection to the world of music.
Assembly, Residency & Workshop Artist - Dance
I grew up in Brazil and identified myself as an athlete, being part of a professional gymnastics team and later getting involved in Capoeira for almost 20 years. I have experienced the importance and value of social skills, of a balanced mind and body, in combination with exploring identity. I have a BA in Psychology, certification as an Expressive Arts Practitioner and am an experienced teaching artist. I am currently enrolled in the Bilingual Education Masters Program at SDSU.
With a strong awareness of the connection between mind, body and identity awareness, I have developed programs engaging students and audiences of all ages to learn and experience Brazilian rhythms, dances and stories in a very interactive and kinesthetic way. Through dynamic activities and lesson plans, students increase their understanding of history, geography, math, languages and other much needed 21st Century Skills. In response to the accelerated climate change currently happening on Earth, I have been also teaching K-4th grade Science workshops in order to cultivate awareness in my students regarding how to take care of nature. I weave music and movement as well as instrument making out of recycled materials into these workshops.
Residency Artist - Visual Art: Social & Installation Arts
My passion is creating art experiences to generate opportunities for human connections and community building. In 1999, while at San Francisco Art Institute, I co-founded Dot-to-Dot, a social art piece which brought arts education to hundreds of low-income San Diego and Rosarito elementary school children, by uniting each child with a cross-border collaborative partner and working with dozens of international artists. In 2011, I art lead the San Diego Burning Man CORE projects in 2011 – 2013 (project and art lead 2012), which are large-scale climbable installations for the Burning Man, as well as lead the formation of the resulting art collective, “Sol Diego”. In 2012, I received a CCF Fellowship in partnership with Young Audiences of San Diego, now Arts for Learning San Diego, to create The Nature of a Door is to be Opened. This social art piece with resulting installation gathered the favorite memories of small children to thread the City Heights neighborhood of San Diego together with older students, the children’s families, local artists, nonprofits, and educational institutions.
Currently, I partner with San Diego Cooperative Charter School 2 to bridge gaps within their community due to language barriers and social/economic differences between commuter families and the families living in the neighborhood in which the school is sited. Additionally, I serve as an arts integration visual arts teacher at Arts for Learning San Diego.
Assembly & Workshop Artist - Storytelling
Peter McBride, M.A. in Education, has taught over 30 years in Los Angeles and San Diego Counties. Early in his career he was a traveling director for Los Angeles City Schools Youth Services. During that time he developed and presented a program involving music, storytelling, and activities for primary-age children and wrote a book collection of children’s games. Currently he volunteers as a speaker for the Red Cross and works as a cameraman, video editor, and co-producer for Point Media, a Los Angeles based video production company.
In my career as a teacher, administrator, camp counselor, parent, traveling program director, voice over artist, public speaker, and artist for Arts for Learning, I have always utilized storytelling – from folktale to attention grabber to lesson. Often enhancing my storytelling are my guitar playing and singing.
Say something and maybe someone will remember. Tell something to someone and that person will recall it because storytelling, applied the right way, creates a connection to his/her own life experience. It makes it so entertaining and exciting! And that’s what I strive to be in each endeavor.
Assembly & Workshop Artist - Storytelling
Marilyn McPhie has been telling stories professionally since 1985 and has performed for groups from preschool to adult, nationwide and beyond. She has told stories for assemblies, classes and festivals, has lectured for colleges and universities and has performed for schools, libraries, museums, civic and church groups and corporate and private gatherings. She has directed a troupe of student storytellers and has written reviews for national storytelling and parenting publications. She is the President of Storytellers of San Diego and the Pacific Region Director for the National Storytelling Network.
I am passionate about storytelling. It links people face-to-face, eye-to-eye and heart-to-heart. It is as old as civilization and as new as tomorrow. Storytelling in schools extends learning, fosters values, enhances language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, sparks enthusiasm, promotes problem solving and conveys culture. It is both exciting and satisfying to bring the art of storytelling to all audiences.
Mojalet Dance Collective
Assembly Artists Dance
Mojalet Dance Collective is an internationally acclaimed contemporary dance company that performs with a passion to share the beauty of expression through movement and artistic collaborations. The work performed by the professional company varies from large ensemble work to intimate duets and solos using strong elements of design, musicality, and athletic movement. Themes range from abstract, to the intimacy in relationships, and the pure beauty of movement.
Mojalet Dance Collective was founded in 1991 by three North San Diego County Artists, Faith Jensen-Ismay, Mary Neuru, and Linda Zambrano: three educators in dance working in college establishments; they found a need to provide opportunities for dancers, choreographers and other artists post-graduation. Mojalet continues to serve as a platform for established and emerging performers and artists to share their work.
Since the inception of Mojalet, the company has worked and performed in schools through Arts for Learning San Diego, educating and inspiring our youth. A major goal of Mojalet is to reach out to communities and make the work accessible with a major focus is to offer opportunities to dancers and artists to develop their craft outside an academic environment.
In 2008, Mojalet Dance Collective opened The Vine Theater, Mojalet’s Place for The Arts, a small black box theater. This new endeavor allows the company to produce not only its own work, but also present a wide variety of artists ranging from dance, music, poetry, storytelling, theater, and more.
Over the past 20 years, Mojalet has been successful in following its mission to find opportunities to collaborate with other artists and schools throughout the county, as well as develop their international partnerships.
Residency & Workshop Artist - Dance
Cybele Peña has been teaching dance to youth and adults for 17 years. As a teacher for Arts for Learning San Diego, she has taught short and long term residencies in schools all over San Diego County. She danced and performed Afro Cuban traditional dance for ten years. She trained as a dancer in a school for traditional arts in Caracas, Venezuela. She has also danced and performed Puerto Rican Bomba (with Bomba Liberté and Areito Botincano). She is passionate and inspired by all forms of dance as well as the stories, history, and culture that come with the dances.
Nos de Chita
Assembly Artists - Dance & Storytelling
With the idea of inspiring children to go to school, combined with my desire to keep alive the history, and traditional music and dance from my country, Brazil, I have put my passion, knowledge and experience into education. I believe that through art programs, in collaboration with the regular school syllabus, children will find academic achievement, equitable opportunity, social and emotional development, and responsibility as citizens. It is why I created Nos de Chita.
Since a young age in São Paulo and Londrina, Brazil, scenarios such as women singing beautiful songs along the rivers while washing clothes inspired me to share my culture. Observing the rhythms that people make shaking match boxes while waiting for the bus, or watching a circle of barefoot people playing "capoeira" in the middle of the streets with so much body control, moved my soul. These circumstances made me believe that art has to be part of every person’s daily activity as a natural way of expression.
I bring traditional Brazilian music, dance, and Capoeira to students through assembly performance programs and workshops. I focus my teaching on improving students overall well-being through increasing motivation, critical thinking, confidence, concentration, and social engagement. I ask students to see the world through my eyes, inspiring and guiding them to explore a different culture.
Nos De Chita incorporates rhythms, dances, games and stories into core curriculum. Children and adults experience multicultural awareness and appreciation while developing other skills such as motor, social and intellectual skills, as well as musicianship. These lead them to understand and enjoy the deeper forms of beauty in life that only art can provide.
ARTIST STATEMENT: CLAUDIA LYRA, LEADER
I realized I have the potential to positively influence children’s thoughts about being in school as well as increase their enjoyment of being there, every morning, every day. My influence could be by teaching workshops and performing assemblies about my culture, having students experience the culture through music and movement.
Assembly Artist - Storytelling
David Novak is a nationally recognized leader in the storytelling revival, recipient of the Circle of Excellence from the National Storytelling Network, featured many times at the National Storytelling Festival and numerous theatres and festivals including the Cincinnati Playhouse, Kitchen Theatre, CSC Rep, Timpanogos, Tejas Festival, Hawaiian Talking Island, Frisco, and Sierra storytelling festivals. He has keynoted for the American Alliance for Theatre In Education, the Mid-Atlantic Storyteller's conference, the Greater California Reading Association and numerous library and educational conferences. His aesthetic education programs have found audiences across the country from the Lincoln Center Institute to the Los Angeles Music Center On Tour. In 1995/1996 he was Master Storyteller for the Disney Institute in Orlando, FL, and in 2009 he was guest lecturer for the Czech Children's Theatre Conference in Trutnov, CZ.
"He tells his stories with great physical awareness, a real sense of suspense, humor, and integrity. His range, personality, warmth, truthfulness, imagination, ability to transform, taste, all combined, make him a unique artist." Lincoln Center Institute
"Novak, a gifted teller who regularly performs at festivals around the country, enhances his stories with a bag of tricks. His fluid voice can become a dozen different characters. He sometimes takes out a looped string and turns cat's cradle tangles into antlers, beards and other costumes for his protagonists." Smithsonian magazine
"In him, The Brothers Grimm and Carl Jung meet Monty Python." Houston Storytelling Festival
Why Does He Tell Stories?
"As a Storyteller, I can integrate my many areas of interest and expertise. My work has grown from explorations in mime and movement, character, voice, and classical text to the spontaneity and intimacy of the shared story. The theatre is my tradition and is evident in my style. Yet I am not interested in merely “acting out” a story, but in telling. Every story I tell has been through the filter of my imagination and carries a piece of my heart. I believe that storytelling is the original virtual reality. I hope that people listening to my stories will experience their feelings, explore their thoughts, and consider the world we live in."
Residency Artist - Theater
Wilfred is a California-based artist with a B.A. in Theatre Performance: Acting and Musical Theatre and an M.A. in Theatre Arts, both from San Diego State University. Wilfred is a graduate of the MCIT Acting Studio and a member of the Actors' Equity Association. In addition to Arts for Learning San Diego, Wilfred actively works with Blindspot Collective, California Center of the Arts, La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Junior Theatre, Young Actors' Theater, Playwright’s Project, and JCompany. Wilfred has training in trauma-informed care as well as professional development in Emotional Intelligence, Restorative Justice, Arts Integration, and Formative Assessment.
In addition to being an experienced educator and teaching artist, Wilfred is a freelance Director and Choreographer. Wilfred is an established actor with work spanning across genres: Drama, Musical Theatre, Dance Theatre, Social Justice Theatre, and Experimental forms. Listen to Wilfred on Spotify and iTunes on the original cast recording of the musical The Things We Never Say featured on the track “Coronado Lights.”
Residency Artist - Music
One day in third grade upon returning home from school I found a marimba in my bedroom! My musical life was born. My musical career has blended performance (San Diego Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Canada) with education (presenting up to 40 school assemblies per year with Arts for Learning and as teaching artist for the San Diego Institute for Arts Education and ArtStarts in Canada.) Currently, whether I play orchestral timpani or percussion, solo marimba and vibraphone concerts or teach San Diego Youth Symphony percussionists, I endeavor to provide listeners and students with excellence and inspiration.
My goal is to help students connect more deeply to music. What exactly are we hearing? How does this bring meaning to us individually? I use the marimba and approximately 40 smaller percussion instruments from the U.S. and other continents to help students develop their listening skills and creativity. Students participate in abstract, hands-on activities to work with the elements of music such as rhythm, beat, tempo, pitch, timbre and dynamics. They create music with paper, found objects and percussion instruments. They learn how composers organize music, combining contrast and repetition to keep our interest, and how the elements meld together to bring thoughts and images to our minds and feelings to our hearts. The activities culminate with the class creating, rehearsing and performing a contemporary composition, which is inspired by a story. It is my joy to empower students to discover the knowledge, beauty and meaning music can offer!
The PGK Dance Project
Assembly Artists - Dance
The PGK Dance Project is a 20-year old contemporary dance company performing different styles of work by many different kinds of choreographers. Our multi-ethnic ensemble has dancers who originally come from all over the United States and now live in San Diego to be a part of this ensemble. Our 5 ensemble dancers include our Assistant Director, Kymmberly Kellems who is originally from Oregon and brings a strong, athletic quality to dance and is an excellent leader. Kevin Truitt is originally from Baltimore, Maryland and is really tall, really fun and enjoys making other people smile. Jessica Kelley is originally from San Diego and with her bright red hair loves and is really good at ballet with a contemporary twist. Marty Dorado, also from San Diego has a steady, reliable quality and loves, loves, loves to help other people learn to dance.
When people experience our assemblies we love how people can understand how our dancers are just like life. Full of different emotions, situations and how dance can be used as a common language between people who come from totally different places and cultures. Movement is already something all of us do in one way or another.
Residency Artist - Theatre
When I was a young girl in NYC, I had an opportunity to go to a prestigious theatre camp - a place where all the Broadway kids would go. I was a bit of a fish out of water. But I was hooked! Being involved in a collaborative project that everyone took seriously; where cooperation, listening, and tremendous effort were the behavioral norms; and where the job itself was creative play: Wow, what a turn on! And that’s also what I’ve loved about being a professional actress in the UK, NY, here in San Diego and in other cities in the US. I’ve always loved rehearsal more than performance.
I love to bring this combination of focus and play, intention and energy into the classroom or rehearsal hall. Not everyone is going to be or wants to be a great actor or playwright; but everyone can learn from being a part of focused group energy channeled to create something playful, exciting and new. Whether working on a drama residency designed to tap into imagination and expression, a playwriting residency that validates students’ own voices as storytellers, an arts-integration class teaching life sciences or ancient civilizations, or staging the 3rd grade play, I aim to create a safe environment for participation, connection, risk-taking and creativity.
Residency Artist – Capoeira Music and Dance
I am originally from Salvador, Brazil, birth place of the art I teach - Capoeira. I have been teaching since 2000 at over a dozen schools in the San Diego area. Capoeira is a complete art form that combines music, dance, and acrobatics. It teaches timing, spatial perception, eye contact, respect, community, and partnership. It teaches children to be courageous and encourages movement which allows kids to literally see the world from another perspective—doing cart wheels, hand and head stands. As a trained anthropologist, I love to use music and dance as an approach to history, and see capoeira as an excellent vehicle for teaching inclusion and community involvement. As a mother, I ensure the lessons are accessible by children of all ages and learning styles.
I integrate language, geography, history, and movement into my lessons, and each child can find a favorite element in the art to focus on. Our capoeira class consists of stretches, warm up (often with games related to the history or movements), and technique (kicks, dodges, timing, and movement sequences). Musically, children learn how to play different instruments such as the agogô, pandeiro and the berimbau. The students develop the ability to work in harmony with each other through capoeira’s singing style of call-and-response. The lyrics are in Portuguese, giving students a chance to learn songs in a new language. Some lyrics are very old and simple, giving me an opportunity to tell stories about what life was like for these songwriters. My teaching philosophy is to facilitate contact with the culture, develop a sense of community, and to encourage the capoeira player to become familiar with his or her own body. Most especially, my goal is to teach my students that happiness is the fuel for a healthy life.
Assembly Artist - World Music
Ed Reeves began playing music at age 12, in Memphis, Tennessee. He graduated from San Diego State University with degrees in Communications and Elementary School Music Education. While pursuing a degree Ed performed with The Cal-State, Long Beach Jazz Ensembles, the Southern Oregon College Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Ensembles, and the San Diego State Symphony Orchestra and Jazz Ensembles.
Always the educator, he began teaching drums and percussion at a local music store, while still in High School. He still keeps a select number of private students as an instructor for California Music Studios.
Lorain Khalil Rihan
Residency Artist - Visual Art
A defining moment for me as an artist was when I had a small solo exhibition. I invited my family members to see my work despite feeling extremely apprehensive about them being there. My artwork relies heavily on the personal and collective suffering my family endured as refugees. Growing up, I felt detached from their narratives but did everything I could to learn about the history that I was connected to through my arts practice. After being filled with months of dread, my family attended my show on the opening night. The positive emotional response and immense pride from them was overwhelming. They actively engaged with other attendees and shared the ideas behind my artwork. I could not believe that my art had invited them to open up and share about the wounds of war. It was the most empowering yet humble moment of my personal practice.
In my classes, I encourage students to consider their surroundings and to examine the social issues that impact them as individuals and their communities. I believe that art is instrumental in inspiring social change and provides us with the opportunity to learn from others with open hearts. I love to motivate students to recognize the power they all have and the magic they create when they produce and share their artwork. We take risks with the brainstorming and production processes while exploring a variety of media including printmaking, collage, ink, charcoal, fiber arts and non-traditional materials.
Mr. Dyno Rock
Residency Artist - Dance (Hip Hop and Breakin')
Mister Dyno has been a teaching artist for more than 15 years. He has won several national and international breakin’ competitions. Together with his wife, Miss Piggy Rock, they teach classes, workshops, camps, school assemblies and collaborate with several community organizations with events and performances. Their mission is to share knowledge and history of Hip Hop Culture to the youth, encourage the creative process and self expression, promote collaboration & respect, and build & strengthen community through the art form. Mr. Dyno holds a Bachelor's degree in Sociology & Social Psychology from San Diego State University.
Miss Piggy Rock
Residency Artist - Dance and Visual Art
Miss Piggy Rock is an artist and educator whose life purpose is rooted in serving the community and bringing people together to build, heal, grow, express, share and collaborate through art. With her background in the Reggio Emilia Approach, collaborative art creation, and community involvement, she is inspired to continuously create unique experiences and projects for youth and families that are catalysts for individual and collective growth. Her mission is to provide art experiences that are meaningful, empowering, and imaginative. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood & Family Development with a minor in Graphic Design from San Diego State University,
Miss Piggy Rock’s specialties include: Graphic design & photography, mixed media art, event production & organizing, teacher & mentor training, workshops, camps, performances and exhibitions.
Rob Thorsen Jazz Quartet
Assembly Artists - Music, Jazz
Rob Thorsen is one of San Diego’s most in-demand jazz bassists. This longtime performer and recording artist created the highly successful program, Jazz, An American Artform, in 2010 after recognizing the need for jazz education in local schools. He leads his own quartet, has recorded six CD’s as a leader, and performs regularly with Charles McPherson, Gilbert Castellanos, Steph Johnson, the San Diego Symphony and many others.
Trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos is considered a major force on the San Diego jazz scene and one of the leading trumpeters in Southern California. This multiple award-winning musician has performed with jazz greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Diana Krall, Tom Scott, and Poncho Sanchez. He was recently invited to play at the prestigious Monterey Jazz Festival in an orchestra led by the legendary Quincy Jones.
Guitarist Bob Boss is a true musical chameleon having performed everything from soul to rock and fusion. His high-energy blues drenched playing is reminiscent of Wes Montgomery and George Benson. He’s performed with a wide variety of musicians including the late Hollis Gentry, Daniel Jackson, Arlo Guthrie, The San Diego Symphony and has appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
Richard Sellers brings energy and joy to every performance. He’s played drums professionally for over twenty years performing a variety of styles including straight ahead jazz, Brazilian, Latin, funk and hip-hop. Regarded as one of the premier drummers in Southern California, Sellers has been featured in Modern Drummer magazine. He is the recipient of the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award and continues his successful career as a performer, recording engineer, and educator.
Our goal is to motivate and inspire students to understand themselves and the world around them through jazz music. No matter what your background, your music and culture are part of what make up the framework of jazz music and improvisation. This program will help students realize that we are all artists and have a unique voice, giving them confidence and motivation in all aspects of their lives.
Li-Anne Rowswell Mufson (Aunt Li-Anne)
Residency Artist - Storyteller
I am a Professional Storyteller because I love the magic of transporting children and adults out of themselves. I tell original stories and traditional tales that bring compassion and warmth to the forefront of our collective experience. Narrative is the way our brains work. One day I went into a second grade class for a single day workshop. I told several stories and then asked the children to come up with ways they could use their math skills to find out things in the story. We covered a white board. One little boy’s face lit up after we wrote down his suggestion. “I can’t wait to tell my Dad this math story.” The teacher later told me he had never raised his hand in class before that day. When we harness the power of narrative for our students the results are amazing. I love the transformations that can occur when children, who perhaps have never believed in their own abilities, realize that they are storytellers, they can express themselves and transport other people too, wherever their imaginations take them- through story.
In my classes we explore learning how to get to know a story, so you can tell it in your own words, instead of memorizing. Active Listening – in small groups and large – is enhanced. Imagination, self-expression, teamwork, compassion – all of these skills are awakened and enlivened. No matter what the class is focused around, every child has a story. And that knowledge never leaves them.
Roxanne Rojas de Blanco
Residency & Workshop Artist - Dance
As a child growing up in Southern Spain, dance swirled around me. People of all ages and walks of life shared a common expression thorough meaningful movement. I remember the colorful festivals, the solemn processions and the jubilant parties. This experience laid the foundation for my artistic philosophy and teaching pedagogy: Dance reflects life! Since then my path has wandered curiously, from experimenting with contemporary dance to traveling to Cuba to learn about rich cultural treasures. My explorations have always brought me back to the same truth: dance is an essential human expression; a language of the body, mind and spirit. I believe children hold the key to unlocking this powerful force for learning.
I’ve had the honor of teaching children for over 20 years, first with City Moves and later through Arts for Learning San Diego. In my residencies, students learn how dancers engage their bodies and imaginations to communicate ideas, share stories and express feelings. We explore the choices dancers make through the elements of time, space and energy and weave them purposefully to create original collaborative choreographies. I look forward to every residency as a learning adventure! One of my favorite approaches is to parallel the dance creation process with other academic perspectives such as literacy, science or history. How are dancers like scientists? Like authors? Like archeologists? I also enjoy examining cultural or historical contexts in a manner that helps children connect, understand and empathize with people of other lands or times. ¡Qué viva el baile!
Samahan Filipino American Performing Arts & Education Center
Assembly Artists, Filipino Music & Dance
Samahan Filipino American Performing Arts & Education Center has enriched the cultural diversity of the San Diego community for four decades by providing Filipino cultural arts through dance, music and living traditions. Originally named as Samahan Philippine Dance Company, it was organized in 1974 by the late Dr. Lolita Dinoso Carter. It started as a youth group of COPAO (Council of Philippine American Organizations) with the purpose of helping Filipino American students attain pride in their cultural heritage by giving them opportunities to learn, perform and experience traditional dances and music. Samahan has been offering Filipino folk dance classes, music workshops, holding its annual Concert of Philippine Dance and Music and Philippine Cultural Arts Festival in Balboa Park; performing in community and school events as well as private gatherings. Its performing groups: Samahan Philippine Dance Company, Samahan Philippine Rondalla, Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble and Samahan Polynesian Dance Group have evolved to be recognized among San Diego’s leading ethnic performing groups.
ARTIST STATEMENT: RUBY PEARL CHIONG, LEADER
Dance has always been my passion ever since I was young. But why Philippine Dance? It is a dance that is close to my heart because I lived it. This dance form is a reflection of the lives of the people, their cultural heritage, their way of living. What inspired me to teach Philippine dance in San Diego is when I noticed many young Filipino-Americans wanting to learn and gain knowledge about their heritage, to be proud of it and to experience it through dance and music.
San Diego Ballet
Assembly Artists - Dance, Ballet
The San Diego Ballet (SDB), a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organization, was founded in 1991 in close association with Robin Sherertz Morgan’s San Diego School of Ballet and features a strong contemporary repertory created by resident choreographer, Javier Velasco. No other dance company in Southern California is quite like San Diego Ballet. Under the visionary leadership of Velasco, you do not simply see a San Diego Ballet performance, you feel it. His distinct choreography redefines what most people would expect from ballet -- to bring inspired, provocative and thrilling performances year after year.
Artistic director Javier Velasco is a multi-award-winning choreographer and director, noted for his work in musical theatre and concert dance.
SDB has a large varied repertoire and continues to enjoy growth and critical acclaim with original pieces such as Sweet Synergy Suite (music of Jazz icon, Charles McPherson), Mambomania (music of Perez Prado), Luna Lunera (with poetry of Garcia Lorca and music composed by David Burge), Opus Swing (to music of Ellington, Miller and Goodman), Sweet Dreams (to the music of Patsy Cline) and The Brontes, (a musical based on the lives of the three historical sisters). More classical pieces include The Nutcracker, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo & Juliet.
SDB’s Nutcracker (now in its 27th year) utilizes company dancers, independent contractors, and over 100 local children. For the past 15 years, SDB has toured throughout the western United States to critical acclaim.
San Diego Ballet has collaborated with the San Diego Symphony, San Diego Chamber Orchestra, and San Diego Camarada during their seasons as well as dance organizations such as Culture Shock and others.
San Diego Ballet’s mission is to excite, enrich, and entertain its diverse audience through an imaginative presentation of quality classical and contemporary dance. It is committed to reflecting a Southern California cultural aesthetic in its programming. This does not mean that the company only dances to mariachi and surf rock music, but it does not shy away from those influences either. This philosophy of the creation of new and innovative work as a company value has been successful in attracting an ethnically, and generationally, diverse audience. SDB feels that it is important to engage its audiences at whatever level they come to see a performance at. Whether they be first time ballet attendees or long time dance aficionados, SDB has something for everyone!
The San Diego Guild of Puppetry
Workshop Artists - Puppetry
The San Diego Guild of Puppetry is the primary puppetry resource for the people of San Diego, now entering its 23rd year as a nonprofit. Initially founded as a club for puppeteers almost 60 years ago, it now serves audiences of all ages, especially those in underserved communities. Guided by a handful of hardworking professional puppeteers, the Guild produces an exciting array of high quality programs, including performances for all ages (by both local and touring guest artists), a wide variety of curriculum and standards based education outreach programming from one time workshops to long term residency programs, and a variety of special events, often in collaboration with other arts/culture and community organizations. It gives classes, mounts exhibits, does custom design work, provides puppet/mask making activities for libraries, street fairs, conventions and family nights, offers training and internship programs, builds and performs with giant puppets and creates school and community based giant puppet parade pageants and festivals for participants and audiences of all ages.
Residency & Workshop Artist - Dance, Theatre, & Playwriting
I am a writer, performer, teaching artist who was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and raised in La Jolla, California. My bi-national, bi-cultural upbringing has made a huge impact on my body of work and teaching methodologies. In the classroom, I use process-based teaching methods (components include group work, problem solving, critical thinking, reflective learning, self-directed learning, and experiential learning) to cultivate the inner artist. I integrate theatre and dance in various educational settings, such as the teaching of academic subjects like history, literature, science; peace building/community building, and teacher training. I have over 15 years experience working as a teaching artist throughout San Diego City Schools.
I am a strong advocate for literacy and the arts. My bilingual play Our Children/Nuestos Hijos, was recently featured at The Old Globe’s New Voices Festival. I also work at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation with DEEP (Diamond Educational Excellence Program – Parent Engagement) and am a producer for Barefoot in Baja, a multi-media project that’s committed to preserving the natural and cultural heritage of Baja California through education. I enjoy surfing, travelling, and spending time with my family.
Residency Artist - Theatre
A few years ago, I was teaching fifth grade. In January, I was given three sets of booklets and was asked to help the students with their end of year exam. This did not mix well with my style of teaching. Instead, my students were making paper bag puppets and using them to put on social studies puppet plays, or using improvisation scenes to work on math. At the end of the year I was not asked to come back to the school. I was disappointed but also excited because I knew what I should be teaching. I moved on and began teaching drama all over San Diego. As time went on, teachers began telling me about the positive influence my teaching was having on their students. Parents were saying their kids had more confidence and felt more comfortable in front of other people.
As a teaching artist, my goal and expectation is to facilitate students' growth as artists and within themselves. In my classes, we work through the Actor’s Toolbox - using our voice, body and imagination to create characters, improvise, and learn basic theatre and acting. We think critically about performances and communicate our thoughts and feelings to each other. I want my students to develop empathy for others and respectfully communicate constructive feedback. My enthusiasm for both drama and theatre, and for working with kids, knows no bounds. My hope is that this feeling carries on to my students. I love what I do.
Assembly, Workshop Artist - Theater
As a performing artist and a Native American/Californio from San Diego, with a mission to entertain and educate people about California’s people and culture - I consider myself a historical comedian doing living history for the public as a direct descendant of the founding families of San Diego, the birthplace of California. I am committed to rediscovering and preserving our true heritage, and continuing our shared legacy. Art is the life of soul, and I am a servant to the arts and will continue to be forever!
My artistic background includes comprehensive study and experience in the areas of mime, dance, acting, theatre, and stage performance. I received artistic training personally under the famous mime, Marcel Marceau, at his School of Mime at the University of Michigan for 10 years, and I continue to teach his legacy to students. My lifelong involvement in various community events includes the role of Artistic Director for the Annual San Diego Grunion Festivals. My performances frequently include historical dramas and comedy, such as my “Running Grunion” presentations theatricalizing the struggles and triumphs of my ancestors. I was recently hired by the Smithsonian Institution to perform at The National Museum of the American Indian in New York City, focusing on “Celebrating California and The Great Basin: The Art of Storytelling.” In addition, I am Fulbright-Hays Scholar who has traveled to India, Mexico, Chile and throughout the United States on special assignments teaching about Native American history. Currently, I tour my original one-man show based on California history and I love to be immersed in educating youth in school settings.
Catherine Hanna Schrock
Residency Artist - Theatre & Spoken Word Poetry
I have been an Applied Theatre Practitioner since I was about 5 years old when I discovered the power of theater and play to bring people together, create humor and healing joy. Professionally, I have been in Applied Theatre for 15 years, bringing together the roles of humanitarian, educator, performer and writer. I have a Master’s in Educational Theatre from New York University and a BA in Sociology and International Development.
As a facilitator, I work independently and with local and international organizations to develop performance-based teaching and learning methods in professional, educational and community contexts. I design creative programming to meet the needs of the community with topics such as community building, leadership, peace-building, communication and conflict transformation. I spent six years developing and directing a Teacher Exchange program, which brought educators from northern Uganda and North America into a collaborative teaching relationship. I also started Arts for Life, a girl’s empowerment through arts program in Kibera, Kenya.
As an artist, I work independently and collaboratively to create written and performance work around themes of reconciliation, connection and humanizing storytelling. My students inspire me as much as my art form does and I am passionately 100% both an educator and artist and I believe in the magic that happens when the two are brought together.
Residency Artist – Dance
My name is Annie Skaggs, and I am a native of Maryland with over five years of teaching experience. I graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor's in Dance Performance and a Bachelor's in English Literature. The following year I graduated with a Master's in Education and a certification to teach Dance K-12 in the state of Maryland. I have taught dance in studios and schools in Maryland, North Carolina, and California. In addition to teaching dance, I am also a performer. While at the University of Maryland, I was a member of Ballet Company M. I have also performed for the University of Maryland's Dance Department, Kinetics Dance Theatre, Dark Horse Dance Productions, and I currently perform with Inclusive Dance Company.
As a dance teaching artist, I believe it is important to teach my students both technique and creative movement. I want my students to learn dance vocabulary, steps, and the proper ways to support their dancing through technique. I believe that students need to have a strong technical base in order to succeed in all types of dance. I also want my students to think creatively and come up with their own unique movements. I work had to encourage my students to discover new movements both on their own and in collaboration with their peers. It is very important to me that I develop a classroom environment that is fair and equal for all students. I do not choose favorites, and do not favor certain personalities. I use positive reinforcement in my classroom, and work hard to inspire my students to find a passion of dance.
Assembly Artist - Storytelling
Alyce Smith-Cooper, is an African-American Ancestral storyteller who has performed in Fortune 500 boardrooms, museums, libraries and schools. In over 35 years of storytelling, Ms. Smith-Cooper has captured hearts by the power of her presence, through which her words aid the imagination to soar by the beauty of storytelling. As an Ancestral Storyteller, Alyce Smith-Cooper introduces audiences to the world of African-American folklore through her vibrant words and expressive vocal techniques. Alyce encourages students to explore their personal stories to ignite their imaginations, spontaneity and creativity. Students develop an awareness of a rich and colorful culture and learn to appreciate the magical world of the storyteller. She has been a Storyteller-in-Residence at San Diego's Children's Hospital and Safari Park's Heart of Africa.
I am inspired to tell stories by the ever-present insistence of the Ancestors. The gift of story is the gift of our history carried by the words and images they portray. The truth of who we are and whose we are is preserved and propelled by the telling and hearing of the stories.
It is vitally important that we be defined and depicted in the light of our creator and that we carry that light into our future. That is my mandate as Ancestral Storyteller, to be a light bearer. I am overjoyed with the assignment.
Sol e Mar
Assembly Artists - World Music
Sol e Mar is a small part of the Escola Samba Sol e Mar ensemble. Sol e Mar is dedicated to sharing the experience and love of the sights and sounds of Brazil. All of the members of the ensemble have studied and performed extensively in South America and Cuba, as well in the United States. Sol e Mar specializes in the music of two countries whose musical roots are strongly tied to Africa: Cuba and Brazil. This African influenced music from the two countries has had a tremendous impact on both the United States and the world.
Residency and Professional Development Artist - Theater
Skyler Sullivan is an actor, director and arts educator transplanted from New York City. While there he worked with The New Victory Theatre where he honed his skills as a curriculum developer and facilitator. Other NYC teaching credits include: The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, the Professional Performing Arts School, and on-set acting coaching on two PBS shows: Sesame Street and The Electric Company. Currently in San Diego he also teaches for The Old Globe, The La Jolla Playhouse, and is the education director at Diversionary Theatre. In addition, Skyler is a therapeutic clown with Healthy Humor, a non-profit organization in residence at C.H.O.C (The Children’s Hospital of Orange County), and the Loma Linda University Medical Center. Skylar holds a B.F.A and M.F.A in Acting.
Denise S. Tabari
Residency Artist – Visual Art
“Find your passion and your profession will follow”
As a young child, I remember receiving art supplies as my favorite gifts. I was inspired to become an artist by my family who was very talented in art and music. During high school, I traveled to Europe to study Art where I became fascinated by the art of the old world. I won a scholarship in Art and attended California State University, Fullerton. While attending art history classes there, my fascination for the styles of the Masters of the old world profoundly expanded.
I then explored interior design where I gained knowledge about my imagination, and three dimensional designs. This led me to painting murals and faux finishing. As my passion for fine art painting grew, I furthered my studies. In 2005, I began painting at an art studio where I diligently studied color theory, watercolor, and drawing. I continued to paint murals and began a new adventure of teaching art at sea.
My emotions and colors in my paintings are what characterize my compositions, with attention to accented lighting. The art of capturing movement in my paintings makes my artwork come to life!
Students can expect to learn a variety of styles from realism to impressionism. They will be exposed to basic geometric shapes. Exposure to drawing, light source, the color wheel, and color theory, is introduced. Each child will be able to express their unique style. Each art project is presented to them in the old fashion method, of “hands on learning”, introducing them to the new and exciting world of art!
Residency Artist - Dance (STEP and Hip Hop)
Originally from Washington State, Jaami Waali has been dancing for over 27 years, beginning with jazz and ballet. She began studying hip hop at the age of 14, and soon organized a school dance team at her high school. After she graduated, she joined AmeriCorps National Service and founded an afterschool hip hop dance program for teens, to help address the rising teen crime rate. She then moved to San Diego specifically to dance in the San Diego State University dance program. In 2002, she founded Kruciaal Element Hip Hop Dance Company where she directs, choreographs, and organizes numerous performances in San Diego and Los Angeles County. Mrs. Waali has been teaching for over 22 years at numerous high schools, colleges and dance studios across the region. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Fine Arts and Dance from San Diego State University, and a Master of Arts degree in Dance from California State University, Long Beach.
Rachael Van Wormer
Residency & Workshop Artist - Theatre
I grew up and attended elementary school in National City. I came into contact with Arts for Learning every year of my elementary school. I remember how much my classmates and I looked forward to our "dance days" or "art days" or "music days." In fourth grade, our arts emphasis was Theatre Arts. That six-week residency awoke something I had never experienced in myself: a confidence, a motivation to work hard, a focus and drive I had never experienced before. I now work professionally in the field I also teach.
I carry this first-hand knowledge of the power that arts education has to transform and shape an individual's life into every classroom I work with. I love to watch students discover their own sense of confidence and courage as they experience their ideas and self-expression accepted and celebrated by an audience of their peers. This is often especially true in my bi-lingual classes, where I get to see students succeed not only in a skill set that is new to them, but in a completely new and foreign language. Watching students explore and succeed in cooperative and leadership skills are also a constant source of inspiration for me, as they come together as a group to create performance pieces. My residencies cover a variety of performance genres including: pantomime, tableau, improvisation, and script work. And I am bilingual in Spanish and English!
Residency & Workshop Artist - Music
As a child, I was always entranced by music, and enjoyed adventures in singing, theater, and performing. This passion evolved as I grew up, and expanded into a career in the arts, which also included radio, songwriting, voice-over, and, most recently, exotic instruments, like the gong. Sound is my life theme, and the journey is a continuous one, constantly unfolding with each new experience.
We are always surrounded by sounds, and taking the time to listen and understand how the sounds affect us is what I love to bring to life in the classroom. I bring in percussion instruments and share where they came from, how they’re used, what they communicate, and how to play them. Watching a child (or an adult) try out a new instrument from another part of the world, experience the joy of making their own music, and sharing that joy with their classmates and friends delights me to the core. We change our environment with every sound we make, and recognizing the ability we each have to shape the world in this way is empowering, and makes a lasting impression on the creative mind.
Residency Artist - Visual Art & Arts Intervention
As a child, visual art wasn’t something I felt I could do very well. I didn’t have that gift of being able to transform an image I could imagine to the paper. Years later I found myself looking for another way to express myself in a creative way and started to paint. I found so much possibility just in color and texture; and the ways colors blend and the freedom of an abstract image and what it could hold.
Working with children, I often meet someone who reminds me that art can be so much more than drawing. I encourage my students to explore new media and new realms of creativity. I love to present the idea of abstract art, to share my sources of inspiration such as nature itself, life and/or other artists. I invite each of my students to find her/his way of expression as a unique individual. I encourage them to be present and connected with their senses in the process of art making so they can be surprised with their own magic of creativity as they make an artistic choice without worrying so much about the outcome.
Residency Artist / Workshop Artist - Visual Art
I was first inspired to be an artist at the recreation center near my childhood home. The nice art teacher created a place of contemplation, creation, and celebration that changed my life. My first job as a teaching artist took me to a small town as a state arts council artist-in-residence for the elementary schools, where I helped students to honor the founding indigenous people, changing their community in the process. Since those early days, I have taught art in diverse K-12 environments; and have been a museum educator, workshop facilitator, nonprofit arts organizer, and a professor in community colleges. I truly enjoy creating the necessary places that will achieve the visible community that students, teachers and families are looking for.
In teaching K-12, I offer a foundation in drawing, painting, sculpture, and design, applying these artistic disciplines to a wide range of subjects and contexts. Students develop skills of close observation, representing what they observe in expressive and imaginative ways. They engage playfully and enthusiastically with the world around them. A visual arts perspective helps make a meaningful connection to other subjects, on an intellectual, social, and emotional level. I look forward to the exhilaration they feel at the moment of breakthrough, when problem-solving takes on a creative dimension. The culminating exhibitions are times of community connection, showcasing the artistic output of large groups of learners, amplifying their communicative power. This power is needed to assure that arts will truly be integrated into the heart of public school education.