Archive for the ‘Youth Programs’ Category

Reflections on The Creative Expression Through Movement Residency in the Ti Atis Program – by Maxine Montilus, HCX Teaching Artist


I was hired as a teaching artist by Haiti Cultural Exchange in September 2014 to conduct a ten-week residency in the Ti Atis program at PS 189K-The Bilingual Center in East New York, Brooklyn as part of the school’s “Arts Wednesdays” for their middle school students. I chose to craft a residency centered on creative movement and poetry, for I was interested in facilitating a program in which students had room to express themselves. I did this with the notion that students would get to select which class they could take in the program. However, the students were separated by grade level in each arts class, and in the process, I ended up with all male students on the first day! (Three female students later joined the class.)

My biggest challenge in the residency was finding ways to keep the students engaged for 90 minutes throughout our time together each Wednesday afternoon. I would often keep activities to 20 minute intervals so that the students remained focused on the tasks at hand. We explored movement principles rooted in Laban Movement Analysis (an approach to dance created by modern dance pioneer Rudolf Laban) and created movement sentences using those principles. I also taught the students hip hop phrases as well, since they loved hip hop music and movement.

Ti atis 2 Ti atis 4

As for the written portion of the program, we explored works by Franketienne, Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes. I also gave them various writing prompts to freely write their own thoughts on topics such as gratitude and their favorite activities, as well as create their own poems. My favorite moments in the program were when I chose to take on heavier topics with the students for their writing. For example, there was one week in which I facilitated a discussion on hip hop, in which the students brought up various issues within the genre, such as misogyny and the use of the “n” word by their favorite artists. On the last day of the program, we had a discussion on police brutality and the use of the arts to combat injustice.

What was most encouraging for me was to see that the students were engaged with the world around them, and critically thinking about social issues in their environment. Being a part of the Ti Atis program left me with questions on how to further work with young people on using the arts for social change and further encourage critical thought on various topics. This was a huge learning experience for me, and I hope my students got as much out of it as I did!

Posted in Archive, Arts, Dance, HCX Programs, Ti Atis, Youth Programs | No Comments »

Ti Atis | Introducing Teaching Artist Okai Fleurimont – by Jessica Tong, Communications and Outreach Intern


Haiti Cultural ExchangeAs we say goodbye to Maxine Montilus, our previous Ti Atis teaching artist, HCX is happy to introduce Okai Fleurimont who will be teaching a 10-week arts residency, Discovering the Music of the African Diaspora, at PS 189 The Bilingual Center.  Held in collaboration with HAUP’s after-school program for middle-school students, the HCX Ti Atis program provides youth of all ages an opportunity to connect with Haiti’s cultural heritage.

Okai has always been involved in giving back to his community through his work with organizations such as Hospital Audience Incorporated (HAI),, and Hip Hop Saves Lives.  Teaching children how to write lyrics, produce a beat, and through percussion lessons, Okai provides opportunities for youth to share their ideas and foster their creative development.

During this arts residency, children will discover the music of the African diaspora including: Blues & Jazz from New Orleans, Hip Hop and Salsa from New York, Reggae from Jamaica, Samba from Brazil, and Rara from Haiti.  Okai will use instruments, audio, video, rap and poetry to help his students gain better knowledge of how the music of the past has developed into the music of the present.  Using percussion instruments, participants start to understand the dynamic nature of music from the African diaspora, examine key influences and struggles, and begin to understand how culture and globalization interact in our daily lives and within music.  HCX is pleased to welcome Okai!

Posted in Arts, Dance, Music, Poetry, Ti Atis, Youth Programs | No Comments »

Ti Atis | Introducing Teaching Artist Maxine Montilus – by Jessica Tong, Communications and Outreach Intern


shocphoto_maxine_634-Edit_web_We are excited to have Maxine join the HCX team where she will be teaching a 10-week arts residency, Creative Expression Through Movement, at PS 189 The Bilingual Center, as part of our Ti Atis program held in collaboration with HAUP’s after-school program for middle-school students.

Maxine Montilus is a native of Brooklyn and a first-generation Haitian-American. Maxine has a B.F.A. in Modern Dance Performance from The University of the Arts, and an M.A. in Arts Management from City University London. As a dancer, Maxine is currently a member of KaNu Dance Theater and Tamara LaDonna Moving Spirits, and has performed with Ase Dance Theatre Collective and Balasole Dance Company. Maxine is also a 2014 EMERGENYC artist with New York University’s Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics. Maxine has presented work at the “Being Bushified!” culture and community series hosted by Urban Bush Women, The Actors Fund Arts Center, Jamaica Performing Arts Center, Dance New Amsterdam, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club and the inaugural Rex Nettleford Arts Conference in Kingston, Jamaica. In 2014, she choreographed for BallyBeg Production’s third play and Equity-approved showcase, “The Taste Of It“. Maxine has also had a long career in arts education, and has coordinated programs for healthcare facilities, public schools and individual nonprofit arts organizations.

We are thrilled to partner with HAUP, an organization with a long history of service and commitment to our communities, to continue our ongoing commitment to the children of PS 189.

Join us on October 4th as we celebrate HAUP‘s 39th Anniversary! CLICK HERE for more information.

Posted in Arts, Classes, Crafts, Dance, Ti Atis, Uncategorized, Youth Programs | No Comments »

Archive: Krik? Krak! Storytelling & Songs with Goussy Celestin and Jean Mary Brignol


gous and jm

As part of the Brooklyn Public Library’s youth programming for Black History Month, HCX visited the Dweck Center for a special Krik? Krak! Storytelling & Songs with storyteller Goussy Celestin & drummer Jean Mary Brignol.

Tromping through the snow and shaking off layers of coats, gloves, and caps, families settled in to listen to Goussy and Jean Mary as they transported us to warmer places.

Reading from Diane Wolkstein’s Banza, Goussy told the tale of a shy little goat who used the power of music to ward off a pack of hungry tigers.

Another story of the underdog… or rather, underfrog, is that of Crapo and Cheval. With a convincing “Click-O-Top! Click-O-Top!” we heard the tale of the over-confident Cheval (Horse) and his competition with clever Crapo (Frog) for the hand of the King’s beautiful daughter.

Following the victorious tale of Crapo, Goussy and Jean Mary led us in learning Crapo’s wedding dance! We all got moving with a silly dance and great rhythms celebrating Crapo’s new bride!

Another mischievous Crapo (no relation, Goussy explained) got himself into trouble with Simbi the spirit of the river when he dries out the village for his own selfish pleasure. We then wrapped up this session of Krik? Krak! with another traditional Haitian dance called the Yanvalou.

Upcoming Krik? Krak! Storytelling & Songs taking place this summer include a special session at our Haitian Flag Day Selebrasyon! on May 18th at Ocean Ave and Parkside Ave.

A special thank you to the Brooklyn Public Library’s Dweck Center for hosting us.


This Krik? Krak! Storytelling & Songs took place on February 15, 2014 at the Brooklyn Public Library’s Dweck Center.


Posted in Archive, Arts, Events, HCX Programs, Krik Krak, Weekend, Youth Programs | No Comments »

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