For teachers learning how to talk about art in their classrooms—or for those just looking to reinvigorate their careers with a good dose of arts-centric professional development—Lincoln Center Education’s revamped Summer Forum this past July was a resounding success.
LCE teaching artists—designated arts professionals who work with educators to integrate arts into the classroom—conducted labs, performances and workshops. Wendy Blum, a 15-year LCE teaching artist, led a family event for educators and their children during the second week of the Forum. In preparation to view an afternoon performance of fellow LCE teaching artist Monica Bill Barnes’ vaudevillian duet Luster, Blum had her workshop participants create a pattern made up of commonplace gestures (miming to a friend that he has pizza on his face, for example), then implemented tools like exaggeration, repetition and inserting pauses to modify the original pattern. Participants also built their own makeshift proscenium, using props and material. Quick discussions following each activity (“What kind of performance do you think will happen in a proscenium space?”) helped cement the connection between collaborative dancemaking and Barnes’ finished piece.
LCE program manager Daniel Wallace highlighted the complete customization as the program’s biggest strength. “If you’re a high school English teacher, and your students are reading something about companionship,” he said, “then you can bring in a dance artist to teach partnering.”
But the Forum’s success wasn’t LCE’s only summer happening. Lincoln Center—in partnership with Hunter College—announced an alternative certification program to train and place arts teachers in New York City’s public schools. In August, 20 music and dance artists enrolled in a tuition-free master’s program at Hunter College that is subsidized by Lincoln Center’s recent $1.5 million grant from The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. Beginning in February 2015, program participants will be placed in NYC elementary, middle or high schools—and continue to teach as they complete the two-year master’s program. Those enrolled will receive a $7,500 grant for art supplies for their placement schools and will also have access to further training and coaching at Lincoln Center. By next year, Lincoln Center plans to expand the program to 60 candidates.
Photos by Christopher St. Clair, courtesy of LCE