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!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 at 12:35 pm and is filed under Archive, Arts, Dance, HCX Programs, Ti Atis, Youth Programs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.