Sunday, December 19, 2010

Targets Arts-Holiday Residency Teaching Artist Check– In 12/13/10-12/17/10

Targets Arts- Holiday Residency

Teaching Artist Check – In
Name and School: Ellison Parks Week of 12/13-12/17/10

Goals for the week: Make sure choreography is memorized; rehearse the students in the flamenco choreography; Junkanoo art project; prepare the students for visit to Boston for Radio City Music Spectacular; prepare students for residency culmination next Tuesday including performance by guest artist and informational letter to be sent home

Achievements/Accomplishments What worked well this week? The students loved the art project creating a Junkanoo costume piece which we will use at the beginning of our presentation; students have fully memorized the flamenco choreography and are adding style to their movements.

Challenges and Solutions
Identify some challenges you faced this week and what you did to meet them.
After asking for more teachers to be present during our class, we had more help focusing the children and the more teachers who participated; the more the children did too. There are a large number of students who are so very focused on the dance and participate fully, but there is also a contingency of kids who just desire to run around and I cannot say they do not want to participate, because they have told me they like it, they just cannot seem to stay focused for long stretches of time. Sometimes, I have to realize that I am more distracted by them than are their peers.

Peer to Peer/Buddy System Notes
Let us know what relationships are forming and how things are going with your assistant: Carol strongly led the art project and with a very simple model, gave each child the ability to create and then be able to wear proudly their creation.

Attendance and participant behavior issues: There still continues to be a number of students who cannot keep their hands off of each other and the school really does nothing to hinder this; whether the contact is a friendly one or a threatening one. There does not seem to be a “bullying” policy in place and at times each child in that room does something that could be perceived as threatening and or caring.

Other comments/concerns/questions: I am honored to be a part of this residency program. It has given me great insight into the artistic needs of communities in the Boston area. I will continue to strive to add my love of art to these communities, because I see how interested the students, faculty and parents are. Citi Performing Arts Center has created a wonderful program not only of bringing arts into schools but also bringing the schools to the art. I loved every minute of this program and I hope to continue my partnership with the Citi Performing Arts Center in the future!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Targets Arts-Holiday Residency Teaching Artist Check– In 12/6/10-12/10/10

Targets Arts- Holiday Residency

Teaching Artist Check – In

                                                  Ellison Parks__Week of__12/6/10_

My goals for the week: Finish flamenco choreography, Read folk stories in relation to flamenco and Junkanoo; Choose dance spots for kids to perform in; work on tying in flamenco, yoga and Junkanoo for final presentation. Continue working on kids to help them learn focusing techniques, dance technique, rhythmic ear to changing rhythms and essence of the way you  move in relation to the style of music you are dancing to. Focus attention on spine.

What worked well this week? Finished flamenco choreography and a majority of the children are really getting in to it. There have been some great connections form kids who originally did not seem so focused, but they have gotten comfortable with the new learning style being offered to them and they are striving for their own success. I love to watch the students move and see their personal expression in their movements. They have learned a difficult piece of choreography that is very intricate rhythmically and technically. This is proving to be such a successful program. I am thrilled to see their enjoyment.

Identify some challenges you faced this week and what you did to meet them.
Fridays are a challenge for the students because a large number of them are feeling the pull of the weekend. It takes a bit longer for them to quiet down and settle into focusing on the class. Starting the music and just getting going roves to be one of the most effective tools. The students like to see Ms. Carol joining in and that gives them a sense of community, along with a few other teachers too.

Let us know what relationships are forming and how things are going with your assistant: I see a large sense of community growing as the students embody the flamenco. New friendships and groupings seem to come about and just shifting one or two kids can change the dynamic of the whole class.  

Attendance and participant behavior issues: I had to send a large number of boys to the principal’s office. They all returned to class, apologized for their disruption and have now remained a little more connected to the class. One girl has been expressing a lot of displeasure with the school and is losing focus in class and repeatedly acting out. I did speak to her teacher about this. The student who we recently were concerned about (due to their written note) is showing much more connection to the class and it retaining all the choreography.
Host school issues and resolutions: I have noticed some of the teachers are leaving after class begins and I will ask them to remain in the gym with us during class. We need more teacher involvement to help with the sometimes unruly behavior of the students.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas at Lunares Flamenco

Santa is bringing me a beautiful new outfit from Lunares Flamenco! Have you checked out their most recent on-line catalog? If you order $200+ you will receive a free gift!

Lunares Flamenco
+55 41 3779-3301

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What do I know from Bulerias...I mean it! Oy vey! What do I know!

Let me kvetch! The ominous Bulerías has been on my mind lately. Why is it such an illusive dance for me? I get the rhythm, I get it...but damn there is something so stifling about letting myself let go and just dancing. I feel stiff and awkward and so not "me"...but I love the lime light...the center of the circle...the attention of the moment. So I will journey into myself and find my Bulería-self!

My journey begins...

Bulerías is a flamenco style which stems from the soleá family. It shares the same rhythmical structure, the difference being, in general terms, a more up-tempo performance. The bulería has many variations in terms of both melody and meter and is normally accompanied by hand claps (palmas) on the off beats and a turn by the dancer (bailaor). Jerez de la Frontera is the true home of the bulería. As for the dance, the bulería has made the break away from private family gatherings to make a name for itself on the stage - as a coda to the soleá, as a climatic closing number, or frequently as an encore. This is a palo where the whole company joins in, gathering round to form a 'corrillo' as they egg on not only the bailaores, but also the tentative footwork (or tomfoolery) of the musicians.

The compás pattern is: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
For the palmas, you can follow the above pattern, but the music dictates the rhythm you should be clapping, so you need to listen tot he music and decide if it is 12's, 6's or 3's...
So, for palmas:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 
1(+) 2 3 4 (+) 5 6 7 (+) 8 9 10 (+) 11 12 
1(+) 2 (+) 3 (+) 4 (+) 5 (+) 6 7 (+) 8 (+) 9 (+) 10 (+) 11 (+) 12

A very good site, with an explanation of the nuances of the palmas for this palo is compas-flamenco/palos.

When dancing Bulería in fiesta form (this is also referred to as Bulerías de Jerez) everyone only offers up a "Patada de Bulería"-a morsel-and this is the "magic structure":

Entrada (can sit and clap until you decide to dance; can mark time with just instruments playing; can mark time with singer. If you mark time while it is just instrumental, you will need to do a desplante to mark the end of your dance)
Letra (Mark time during letra; Llamada at end of singing; can dance now and do as many desplantes that you want, but once you end your desplante on 10, you have indicated that you are done dancing. If you do not go to the corenrner another letra will be sung)
Desplante (final call, bring yourself to corner to note that you are ready for the colatilla)
Salida (exiting marking and desplantes and final ending on 7 8 9 10)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Targets Arts-Holiday Residency Teaching Artist Check– In 11/29/-12/3/2010

Targets Arts- Holiday Residency

Teaching Artist Check–In

School: Ellison-Parks; Week of 11/29/2010-12/3/2010

My goals for this week:  
  Continue flamenco choreography, student memorization of choreography, increase student involvement, continue yoga poses and message of goodwill to all, non-possessiveness, self acceptance, peace, respect for self and others. 

Achievements/Accomplishments What worked well this week?  
  The increase of choreographic memorization has more and more students involved. I came at the class with a new tactic on Monday. I used a predetermined play list which includes:  warm up songs, the flamenco choreography's song and Junkanoo music. I just get the kids moving at the onset of class. They follow me through the warm ups and Carol joins in and also helps to quiet down the more unruly students and she tries to keep some order. I challenge the kids to reach for high levels of learning and memorization and I just keep the music going. I have incorporated yoga, Junkanoo and flamenco into the warm up. 

  The style of flamenco I am using for the choreography is Rumba Flamenco:
Flamenco Rumba (also called Rumba Flamenca, Rumba Gitana, Gypsy Rumba or Spanish Rumba) is a style of Flamenco music which derives its style from the influence of Afro-Cuban Rumba brought back from Cuba to Spain in the 19th century. It is usually accompanied by guitars and hand clapping (Palmas). However, modern performers (guitarists and dance groups) such as Paco de Lucia and Tomatito have incorporated congas and cajon to the percussion section as well as hand clapping.

Challenges/ Solution Identify some challenges you faced this week and what you did to meet them.
  I had previously determined the need to reduce the "free time" during the class and I accomplished this with my new play list, choreography and then using the yoga as a way to calm the kids down at the end. They continue to love "Yogini Went To Sea" which is a yoga song I use and I make sure that is something we do before the end of class. I end each class with savasana, which is for total relaxation and self focus.

Peer to Peer/Buddy System Notes Let us know what relationships are forming and how things are going with your assistant:
  Many students are interested in continuing to dance with me, which I know will be difficult since I do not live in their area. I appreciate their connection to my art and myself and feel honored at their desire to learn more from me.

Attendance and participant behavior issues:
  There are some kids who just do not listen to directions and I have learned to "ignore" a large part of it. I have every child continue to be a part of the learning process and encourage each child to rise above the noise and commotion and have self focus. I have noticed a number of students who really are participating 100% and are learning and memorizing the material and are becoming role models for the students around them.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Teen Dancer Questions

One of my long time teen dancer's posed some interesting questions to me, in reference to my career as a dancer. I thought I would share my answers:

1) What do you think it takes to become a professional dancer? What strengths must a person have to become a professional dancer? You need to have perseverance; you must learn your craft; you must work hard; you must have personal dedication, strength and stamina; you must follow directions well and take corrections and criticisms well; you must learn from the corrections/criticism that you receive; you must take care of your body and your soul (prevent injuries, eat well, meditate, stretch, yoga); you must take as many dance classes as you can and practice;you must shine on stage! You must audition and I guess you would need to have a flexible job. Understand that dancers do not make a lot of money, do not have much artistic freedom, and must love what they do to survive.

2) What was your motivation to become a dancer? I have never thought of myself as a professional dancer, although I am a professional. I have always thought of ,myself as a professional artist who uses dance as her medium. I love being an artist and was raised by an artist. I did try to become something else but art was just in my soul and I realized I had to recognize it.

3) When and how did you know that you wanted to dance as a career? The career just came upon me. As I learned more and more dance technique and more about choreography and movement, it led to my desire to show people what I could do. I have always natural performer and a natural teacher. Along with being a professional dancer, I am dance teach. My career has taken many shapes and forms: being in a company, creating my own choreography, teaching dance, choreographing student companies, working at studios and teaching and choreographing for them. I have now added creating an in-school yoga program, finding grant funding to get the program off the ground and being hired through another grant program to teach dance in the Boston Public School system.

4) What advice would you give to people who have the same dream of pursuing dance as a career? Follow your dreams and be ready for a wonderful ride. Stay open to all the paths that are presented to you. Find your gurus and learn all that you can. Make sure you are following your dream and not someone else's. Be ready to work hard and love it.

5) Why do you love dance and what is your inspiration? Dancing allows me to express my creativity. I love the structure of technique and the freedom of artistry. I am inspired by my mother, my teachers, my inner spirit, my students, the natural world, knowledge, life, the freedom art gives me. I think allowing myself to always learn new things is one of my greatest inspirations...that is osmething I get from my mom. She was never afraid to learn something new. I love to learn.

Ole dear Corrina...may you find the path you seek. Thank you for allowing me to be art of your journey for so many years.

Ole Namaste!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Residency Wrap Up: One Day Before Thanksgiving Break

This week (11/21-11/23) in the Target In-School Artists Residency Program, I introduced flamenco rhythms and technique; Began work on the flamenco choreography; Introduced Epiphany; Reinforced the Junkanoo steps and music; and Continued our yoga practice.

The students really enjoyed and focused on the flamenco technique; they continue to enjoy the yoga with some kids remarking they want to become yoga teachers when they grow up; they love the free spirited moves and music of Junkanoo.

I note that the children do not deal well with the transitions between the three class elements and it often takes us much time to get them settled back into the rhythm of the class. I have decide to approach the class differently when we return on Monday. I will start immediately with a predetermined warm-up (using flamenco, Junaknoo and yoga movements) for the first 20 minutes which we will return to at the beginning of each class. I will then go right into the flamenco choreography which I will run repeatedly with them and then add more steps as they are ready. If time allows, we will return to a more meditative yoga session at the end of class as a way of closure.

I am enjoying working with my assistant, Carol GS. She is an eager learner and is becoming connected to the class dynamics and has good insights to share n the creative process and on dealing with 33 third graders (ha ha). She is still finding her own way into the class and tries many ways to be involved and effective.

What can I day before Thanksgiving break? The kids were way out there today (smile). But as we noted they come in with smiles and they leave with smiles.

Today, I taught a special lesson on Aparigraha, non-possessiveness, and I explained that each child is born with special gifts....some run fast, some dance well, some are artists, some are good in math, some have straight hair...and that we should each be thankful for the gifts that we were born with. I gave each student a slip of paper  and anonymously they wrote down something that makes them special. They came up with many things such as I stated above but one girl noted that everyone hates her and she has no gifts and she ended by saying "help me". This is a cry for help from her and I have noted previously the ups and down of her moods and the valleys are deep there. We will pay special attention to her and try to keep her involved with the program, to find her place within it. I am trying to decide how to share these thoughts with the students and with the school.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Residency "Happy Moment" of the Day

A boy named Rolando said to me, "I want to be a yoga teacher just like you"

                                              that is satisfaction!

Pepe Torres and Juan del Gastor

Yesterday's performance by Pepe Torres and Juan del Gastor was a phenomenal show. I loved the authenticity and generosity of the performers. The fin de fiesta where Juan sang was one of the most memorable moments as was the opening when Pepe played the guitar solo.

José Barrios in In Case Dawn Breaks with special guest - jazz legend Arturo Sandoval

Suffolk University & Fundación Conservatorio Flamenco Casa Patas
presents the inaugural performance
at The Modern Theatre:
José Barrios in
In Case Dawn Breaks
with special guest - jazz legend Arturo Sandoval
Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m.

WHAT:              Suffolk University & Fundación Conservatorio Flamenco Casa Patas are pleased to open the inaugural season of The Modern Theatre with Casa Patas Director and Choreographer José Barrios in Por si acaso amanece (In Case Dawn Breaks), with special guest jazz legend Arturo Sandoval; with musical direction by Isaac Muñoz and Jesús Núñez. This internationally acclaimed ensemble explores the fusion of flamenco with jazz, klezmer, and the blues.

WHEN:          Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m.  
WHERE:       Modern Theatre, 525 Washington Street, Boston  
TICKETS:     $30 general public; $15 Suffolk community, students and seniors. Tickets can be purchased online at or 1-800-838-3006. More information can be found at


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekly Wrap: Target In-School Artists Residency Program

My artists residency is at The Ellison Park Early Education Center in Mattapan, MA. This residency is based around the Radio City Christmas Spectacular that is being held at the Wang Center December 3rd through December 29th, 2010. As a teaching artist, I am to present dance, movement and choreography using other winter holiday celebrations as my jumping off point (i.e. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Thanksgiving, Carnivale, Epiphany...).

I have had great success using yoga as an entry point with kids. They all seem to love the focus it brings to them and the moments of intense focus that I am able to help them reach are quite profound. When the stillness and breath is the only thing notable in the room, a gift blossoms inside each child, even if for only a second. The first few days of the residency were based solely on yoga (first in relation to the seasonal change and the winter solstice; second in relation to Ahimsa or peace).

My assistant Carol Grossi Smolinsky brought a very interesting holiday tradition into our planning stages. She had recently traveled to the Bahamas and had experienced Junkanoo: Junkanoo first began as a temporary celebration of freedom for slaves who were given three days off at Christmas time. Donning scary-looking masks, slaves played homemade musical instruments (drums and bells) and cavorted about freely on the island.

Carol has very enthusiastically taught the students about Junkanoo by showing them videos of the parades, telling them the history and last class, she brought in cups and rice and each student made a maraca that they will use in their Junkanoo parade and later also in their flamenco dance. I have learned a lot along with the students and most interesting to me is that Junkanoo was created in the 17th century by a repressed group of people which relates to the origins of flamenco, also in the 17th century, a a repressed people, the gypsies.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Special $20. ticket offer for Fall Flamenco Festival 2010


CALL WORLD MUSIC/CRASHarts 617-876-4275
For the discount, use the code: FLAMENCO20 upon checkout.

*Discount is not valid for previously purchased tickets and cannot be combined

 with any other offer.  Handling fees apply. Subject to availability.

For tickets and information: www.WorldMusic.org617.876.4275
Read more about the festival in The Boston Globe

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day Two: Citi Performing Arts Residency: Peace on earth!

Day two: Peace on earth; Goodwill to man. What does that mean? Peace on earth means, no fighting, no war. Goodwill means doing good things for other people. Ahimsa is a yoga precept, which means non-violence to yourself, to others, to the planet.

What does Peace mean? A state of harmony between groups or people; a freedom of the mind from annoyance, distraction, anxiety and obsession; silence, stillness.

Different ways to say peace:
1. Om shanti: I am peace.
2. Pax: Latin
3. Shalom: Hebrew
4. La Paix- French
5. La Paz: Spanish
6. Lape (accent over the e): Haitian Creole

Peace idioms:
1. Peace out!
2. Rest in peace.
3. Peace be with you.
4. Keep the peace.
5. Make peace.
6. Leave in peace.
7. A peace offering.
8. Peace of mind.
9. Be at peace.

There is the Peace Corps: an agency of the federal government devoted to world peace and friendship (started by President John. F. Kennedy)

Songs: Peace Like A River with movements (also Yogini Went  To See, which was asked for repeatedly.

The kids shared a beautiful and peaceful Savasana and "Sa Ta Na Ma" Meditation.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Girls Yoga Retreat: Day Two

Sunday morning, the mom's, daughters and I re-communed at Spirit Bear Power Yoga for the second day of our yoga retreat. I woke up that morning feeling very refreshed and totally focused on the morning's class. Where last night had been a calming , restorative practice, I planned for  a more energetci and uplifting class for today.

I began class with a wave breathing taught to me my Barbara Benagh. We lay on our backs, and held our knees with our hands. On the inhale, we let our knees out and on the exhale breath, we brought our knees towards our stomach, naturally causing the air to be dispelled from our body. After that a simple twist, using Eagle legs (causing our hips to be fixed so we could focus our twist in the middle and upper part of our backs). Standing, in time with our breath, we went up and down into Uttanasaa. I explained the use of Ujjayi breathing and that in this up and down time, we would want to make our in and out breaths even. Here I briefly discussed that some people are more prominently exhalers and others are more prominently inhalers. And that poses where were did more exhaling were calming and those that had more of an inhale where energizing.

We did a Sun A series of high lung, to low lunge, and then a rest in Child's Pose. Pressing back up into Uttanasana, we then stood for tree pose. Then taking a wide stance on our mat, we did a flow series of triangle to 1/2 Moon to standing split to Warrior II to Dancing Warrior and then repeated on the other side.

After another Child's Pose, we did Vishnu's Couch, Table Top Balance and then we all experienced Head Stand Prep. I also led the kid's in a simple tripod head stand.

Dropping back into Savasna, I lightly turned on "Chant From The Heart" BY Kitaro, an 8 minute piece and let everyone drfit off into a rleaxation state.

We finished class again with journaling. I read another selection from Buddha at Bedtime and the families and I talked about healthy eating, sharing with our kids, CSA's, and various other topics drfited in and out.

I want to thank Christy Carlson for hosting this wonderful event at Spirit Bear Power Yoga. It was a wonderful way to connect to the community and share my love of yoga. Thank you all for the wonderful welcome to Natick. I look forward to many more enjoyable times.


Day One of the Girls Yoga Retreat

Saturday Night at Spirit Bear Power Yoga:
A beautiful evening spent with 7 girls (ranging in ages 8-12) and 6 mom's. I proposed the question as to what had brought the girls to this yoga retreat and they had varying answers: sports, dance, curiosity and to spend time with their mom's. I appreciated everyone's openess.

We all just dove into our yoga. I opened the practice with pranyama. We sat upright, and using a line from my teacher, Barbara Benagh, I had everyone feel their front body lean into their back body and in return their back body lean into their front. Explaining that these two dynamic forces connect in the middle (the spine) causing it to be stronger, more upright and more balanced. We felt the heaviness of our sit bones and our base. We also tried Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing). I led the class in a Moon Salutation and then a series of restorative poses that heated us up and then cooled us down. There was a prevailing sense of calm in the room. To end our session, we did bridge pose, wheel (where I assisted each girl to get up into or expand their pose) and Viparite Karani Mudra with a block. Then either laying out in Savasana or keeping their legs up the wall, I led them in a short total body relaxation which led into the final Savasana.

We sat up, and I explained how their are 5 sounds in the universe (s-, t-, n-, m-, and a-) and by chanting them we can help to align our energies. We did a short "Sa Ta Na Ma" meditation and then after explaining the meaning of Namaste (which also has all the sounds of the universe incorporated into it); we bowed to each other and gave our expression of respect. I explained how we each should feel a gratefulness to all the people who had shared the yoga experience together and to all htw people in the world.

After handing out paper, crayons and markers for journaling, I talked briefly about the Yamas of Yoga and read a story from "Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire" :

Ahimsa: non-violence to others, to the world and to ourselves.

Satya: truthfulness

Asteya: non-stealing, of material items, of other's ideas, of other's happiness.

Brahmachaya: Balance of desires, self control, respect yourself and others.

Aparigraha: Non-greediness, the letting go of possessions that are unnecessary to life.

Friday, November 12, 2010

One more day to sign up....only a few spaces left!

Yoga Retreat for Girls

(ages 8-14) ….and Moms too 

with Eve Agush at 

Spirit Bear Power Yoga

Saturday, November 13th:  7:00 – 9:00pm  
RELAX with an incredible stretch, like a giant yawn for the body. We will spend one hour practicing breathing techniques, restorative yoga poses and meditation. The second hour, we will explore journaling, healthier lifestyles and creation of personal mandalas.
Sunday, November 14th: 11:00am – 1:00pm 
Rise and Shine!  We will greet the sun with an energetic practice. Through warming poses, our bodies will breathe in new life and vitality. Students will learn poses, breath, and meditation that will help reduce and manage stress. Expect to leave feeling strong and balanced!

Register on-line or at the studio. Spirit Bear Power Yoga is located in Natick Center at 19 Main Street at the intersection of Route 27 and Route 135
1 student:  $25 for both, $15 single session
Mom:  $25 both, $15 single session
Second sibling:  $15 for both, $10 single session

(508)655-YOGA For more info