Tag Archives: arts and cultural alliance

Bringing Art to Every Child

The Association of Florida Teaching Artists (AFTA  is a 501c3 not for profit) was funded to present a two month arts program at Newtown Estates Recreation Department and the Salvation Army in Sarasota, Florida this summer. Two hundred-ten youngsters, grades K-8 participated. The focus of this arts integrated program was learning, speaking, and processing, the elements of better communication.
Twelve teaching artists participated in the program, rotating to the two locations. Visual arts, performing arts, dance, music and mixed media were integrated with stories, plays and multi-cultural activities.

Students created their own musical instruments and worked with artists, Misha Rubinstein, Christopher Wanta and Haile Burke to mix their original sounds to recording tracks.  The students were amazed at their original compositions. They also learned to create and work with Poi and the science behind circles in Flow Arts with Rubinstein.  As a performance art, poi involves swinging tethered weights (also called “poi”) through a variety of rhythmical and geometric patterns.  Rubinstein created poi out of socks filled with brown rice.

AFTA collaborated with Fuzion Dance Artists to bring a multitude of dancers and dance styles to the students on a weekly basis. Hip Hop with Rick, “Kid Kinetic,” contemporary dance with Mary Richardson, Latin Jazz with Carolina Garcia Serpa and Brazilian dance with Stephanie Bastos were highlights. Scott Blum, percussionist taught the students rhythm and drumming basics and the importance of working to create a unified sound working in a group setting. Missy Mulloy offered challenging workshops creating “I Am” bags that illustrate the student’s unique personalities as well as focusing on cities, transportation and mural making.

Amy Webber, visual artist introduced clay sculpture based on two Doctor Seuss books and also taught Asian brush painting and cultural arts. Judy Levine taught the basics of jewelry design and the students created multi-strand bracelets using pattern variations.  She also had the young students create animal visors which they used for character development for story/drama. Gladys Varga, Laura Courter and Mary Kelly used storytelling, props, and books to bring reading alive through dramatization. It was an exciting summer program bringing the arts to homeless and under-served children who may not otherwise have access to these art experiences.

Read more about Florida Teaching Artists here.

Submitted by Mary Kelly-Director and Judy Levine-Co-Director, Association of Florida Teaching Artists.

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Robert de Warren lectures at North Port High School

Dance students at North Port High School recently experienced an exciting opportunity to learn more about the history of ballet and modern dance through a lecture presented by Robert de Warren under the auspices of the Sarasota International Dance Festival (SIDAF).

International Dance Festival

Robert de Warren and North Port High School dance students.

Mr. de Warren is the founder of the Sarasota International Dance Festival (SIDAF), which presented The Carreño Dance Festival, bringing to Sarasota prominent guest artists, faculty, and students from the United States and several foreign countries. He recently produced a critically acclaimed performance of LIFTED, which showcased the best exponents of current contemporary dance from Europe and North/South America.

In his position as Artistic Director of the Sarasota Ballet Company for more than a dozen years, Mr. de Warren founded the Sarasota Ballet School. During his distinguished career, he has directed several ballet companies abroad, as well as being involved as a dancer, choreographer, producer, and costume and set designer.

North Port High School dance instructors, Michelle Slay and Heather Nelson, prepared students in advance with pre-lecture background information. Mr. de Warren’s presentation focused on highlights of 300 years of classical ballet, and the origins and development of modern American Dance. Clips from a wide selection of films depicting present and past stars of the world of dance enhanced the presentation.

It should be noted that the grades 6-12 SIDAF Lecture Series supports the National Core Arts Standards. The following series of lectures are available, and each of the six-session series is available as a single presentation:

– “From Crinolines and Heels to Tutus on Pointe: Three Centuries of Ballet”
– “From Tutus and Pointe to Barefoot on Stage: A History of Dance in the 20th and 21st Centuries”

For information on specific lecture topics and the SIDAF Lecture Series, contact Dr. Sherry Lawrence at drslwrence@yahoo.com or 941-685-5400.

Blog contributed by: Dr. Sherry Lawrence, Sarasota International Dance Festival Board of Trustees. For more information contact Sherry by email.

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Sarasota Youth Opera Turns 30

For 30 years Sarasota Youth Opera (SYO) has given young people an opportunity to experience opera first hand through participation in after-school choruses, main stage productions, summer workshops, and fully-staged youth productions. As the only program in the U.S. committed to presenting annual full-scale opera productions for young voices, accepting all who wish to participate regardless of skill level or ability to pay, SYO is a model for opera education.

opera2Part of Sarasota Opera’s commitment to Youth Opera includes the commissioning of new operas for children and young adults. Five new works have been commissioned as part of this mission: Deadline (1989), Her Lightness (1993), Eye of Ra (1998), The Language of Birds (2004), and Little Nemo in Slumberland (2012). Our most recent commission, Little Nemo, featured 106 young people from throughout the community and used a ground-breaking projection technology called SCRIBE to bring Winsor McCay’s comic strips to life.

Since 1984 twenty-one additional operas have been produced including The Black Spider (1999, 2010), The Second Hurricane (2001, 2006), The Little Sweep (2005, 2013), and The Hobbit (2008, 2014). Members perform in each opera with professionals overseeing staging, costumes, lighting, and performing in the orchestra.

The opportunities to explore opera expanded in 1992 when Sarasota Youth Opera began offering summer workshopsopera3 for young people. With an original enrollment of 24, the number of campers each summer has grown to over 70. Under the direction of Sarasota Opera’s professional staff, campers experience the magic on the stage and behind the scenes as they study the many facets of opera, from music and acting to opera appreciation and production.

As Sarasota Youth Opera enters its 30th season, we look forward to introducing the next generation of opera lovers, patrons, and performers to the magical world of opera.

Blog contributed by: Ben Plocher, Manager of Educational Activities, Sarasota Opera. For more information contact Ben at (941) 366-8450 ext. 249 or by email.

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Arts Education in Sarasota County


This is the first blog post of Arts Education Sarasota, a blog that will focus on arts education in Sarasota County Schools and the community.  Sarasota County has had a long history of supporting and celebrating arts education through the public school system, the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County (formerly the Sarasota County Arts Council), and the county’s many arts and cultural organizations.

This blog will share the news and events concerning arts education from the school district, higher education, and community arts organizations

The blog is being formed as a result of needs expressed by the members of the Arts Education Task Force (AETF).  Members wanted a way to share arts education events and news taking place in our county each month.  If you’d like to catch an AETF meeting, those take place the first Thursday of each month, 9:30AM, at the Center for Arts and Humanity, 1226 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236.  All that are interested in arts education are invited!

Organizations that work in and on behalf of arts and cultural education may submit short paragraphs (up to 300 words) each month at or following the AETF meeting summarizing their arts education activities for that month for the blog.

Active Arts Education Organizations in Sarasota County include:

 The Arts Education Task Force (AETF) – a standing committee of the Alliance since 1988.  The AETF brings together education directors from arts organizations in Sarasota County, Sarasota County School staff, community members, and interested citizens to support arts education in our schools and community.  Annual programs include a Principals’ Recognition Recognition Luncheon each November.

The Community/Schools Partnership for the Arts (C/SPA) – an official advisory committee for the Superintendent of the Sarasota County Schools.  This unique partnership between the Alliance and the school district was founded in 1996 and is comprised of school and district administrators, teachers, and community arts education advocates.  This group works to strengthen arts education within public schools, increasing the opportunity for all students to receive instruction from arts-certified teachers.

Any Given Child Initiative – a program of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  Sarasota County was the 6th site selected in the nation for this designation in 2011.  The initiative involves the community in collaborative efforts to provide equity and access in arts education for all students.

Artists in Schools Programa program of the Alliance that trains teaching artists to work in the public schools as a part of the website, www.EdExploreSRQ.com.  Teaching Artists become aware of educational state and national standards so that their experiences for students are aligned to appropriate benchmarks.  Teaching artists can also join the Association for Florida Teaching Artists, an organization within the Alliance formed in 2012 to provide ongoing support and networking among teaching artists.

EdExploreSRQ.coma website created in 2011 by school and community partners to promote and make available opportunities for K-12 students in arts and cultural education through field trips in the county, in-school experiences, teaching artists, and more.  The website is maintained and managed by the school district.

And, I’m Cindy Balistreri, the Business Coordinator and Arts Education Manager for the Arts and Cultural Alliance.  Please email me to submit news, articles, and your reports for consideration!

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