Artist in Residence Grant Program

The Very Special Arts “Artist in Residence” project will provide creative dance, music, storytelling learning experiences to 4 classes of students who are educated in Marquette-Alger RESA classrooms in Marquette County. Two of the four participating classrooms are center-based Transition programs for students aged 18-26 years of age. Students in these classrooms have been identified with mild cognitive impairments, autism spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, and other health impairments. The third classroom is from Teaching Family Homes, a residential program for students with severe behavioral challenges. Additionally, these students may be cognitively impaired, learning disabled, autism spectrum disorder, or emotionally impaired. The fourth classroom of students is that of the Great Lakes Recovery Center residential program. These students are youth from grade 7-12 who are recovering from alcohol and/or substance abuse. Some of these students also have learning disabilities and emotional impairments.  Fifty-seven students will participate in the program.

Each class will participate in a minimum of 20 hours of dance and 20 hours of music and/or story making. Professional artists from the area will teach their art to the students connecting the arts with the academic curriculum and IEP (Individual Education Plan) goals. Resident teaching artists include dancers, musicians and a storyteller, who will engage the students in the creative process of their respective arts media. The artists will also provide strategies for classroom teachers and para-professionals using dance/movement, music, and story making to teach students other curricular subjects and life skills. Residency activities will begin in October 2017 and extend to the end of the school year in June 2018.

The diversity of students served in these settings is an indicator of the need for various strategies to educate these students who have not found success in their local school districts. For many of these students, the arts offer a way to express themselves that taps their visual, motor, and artistic abilities as a means of expression rather than relying primarily on verbal linguistic abilities. Unleashing these talents often assists students in acquiring the confidence necessary to take the risks to continue to learn. The residency with these artists will provide an exploration of creative dance, vocal and instrumental music and story making, which will engage each student in creating his or her own unique expressions through speaking, singing, percussion and the use of other tonal instruments, and movement. Four classroom teachers and 5 para-professionals will be directly involved in the creative process along with the students, so that methods of exploring these media may be continued after the artists have completed the residency.

Members of the TaMaMa Dance Company, Marissa Marquardson and Maggie Barch, are very experienced at engaging learners in creative dance.

Corinne Rockow is a musician and storyteller.

Carrie Biolo is a master percussionist.