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Inaugural Award's Ceremony

Equity is the Word. Equity is for All.

I spent thrilling couple of days with Teaching Artists, Administrators, Advocates, Arts Leaders &Enthusiasts, Grantors and Facilitators during the Teaching Artist Institute Workshop at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.

City of Peace Workshop on Wellness

Creating Tabaleus from prompts and words

I'd just returned home the day before from a week amongst Culturalists, Historians, Storytellers, Artists and Delegates of the Caribbean/African Diaspora for Carifesta XIV . I continue to lay the ground work for what a Dance Scholar at large looks like today, what she/he does and how can they contribute to the network and community of the Performing Arts. I think back on my previous years as a Professional Performer and how I was able to transfer this is into curriculum as a Teaching Artist for students that provide them with the basics tools, the technique as well as exposure to the artistry of dance.

Sitar Arts  sharing with TA the importance of incubating self for class preparation

establish your Executive & Supportive Branches of the Mind with Happy Theater

So much has changed over the course of time yet a lot remains the same, the purpose of learning different art forms is to discover, explore and uncover facets of our human experience in a creativity way based on designated prompts or tools for self-expression. It historically helped to shape, mold, improve or highlight the strengths and weakness of one's character. And offer exposure to diverse perspectives, approaches

To be seated amongst those who share a similar objective and passion for Arts Education was like being birthed for the first time. I had realized the network of people who I'd be been inadvertently been working with and around in the Washington DC area and we all resembled a fiery, fun and full energy that speaks to who we are and why we do what we do in the studio and in the classroom. This seminar helped put a few things between Teaching Artists and Facilitators into perspective such as:

Equity- fair treatment, access and exchange with organizations, companies, schools or programs
Agency- safe space for expression, communication, growth, exposure and representation
Accountability- support, incentive, assessment, mutual understanding, trust
Culture- value system, core, standards, ethics, behavior, environment
Transparency-open candid conversation, conflict resolution, applicability
Erika Hawthorne, Moferating "Keeping Children at the CENTER". Speaker, Kahina Haynes of Dance Institute of Washington

After the second day, we all agreed upon that fact that a change requires real course of ACTION on behalf of these topics we addressed is the only sure way to breakthrough and I am confident that with the help of the DC Commission for the Arts and it's associates that this time of incubation will not go in vain...but instead will lead by example in raising the standard for Teaching Artists.

I spoke with Alivia Schaffer, a San Francisco Bay Artist who recently premiered work at the Jacob's Pillow School in Becket, MA for the InsideOut Stage series this Summer. She is an Alonzo King's LINES Ballet BFA Alumn, Guest Company Member for Robert Moses Kin, Adjunct Professor at University of San Francisco, Choreographer, and Teaching Artist for a number of programs throughout the U.S.


Having received Fiscal Sponsorship along with funds she raised during a studio performance, Schaffer re-staged a work that she'd built on in and through the Bay Area with her dancers.  Although she faced new challenges with having to balance the administrative with the artistic she walked the line with integrity with the support and guidance of seasoned Mentors who believe her work and who have done this hat- juggling act before. Schaffer, did her research, ensuring that her dance artists and collaborates were well taken care of, supported and fairly compensated for their contribution to the work.


As a performing artists many times over, Schaffer among many can attest to the unfavorable: non-paid, volunteer or poor conducted opportunities which leave dancers only "an experience" or "the exposure to" in exchange for their hard work, time, sweat, value and personal investment as an Artist.


Sadly enough, dancers expect the very least from non-equity gigs or opportunities. They scan the job description for the word, stipend, and leave the rest in hopes to prove itself worthy of their time which usually puts them in debt, at risk or in harms way. Rarely are the cost of transportation, food, lodging, per diem or an hourly rate for rehearsals factored into the budget much less mentioned. However, this was not the case for Schaffer and her Collaborators. You can see in pictures shared on social media the lightness of their presence and the brightness on their faces as they took the whole experience of being on the Jacob's Pillow "Dance Mountain" without the cares and concerns that typically plague very gifted and capable artists.

Schaffer states her reason for the given name, "Collaborators"--it speaks to the process of creation itself; the cultivation of movement language and phrases put together with dancers to create the full breadth of her work. She says that no one, including herself, was seen or treated higher, greater or more important than one to another. All Collaborators were equally respected, cared for and valued while she alone took responsibility for the troupe's whereabouts, well being and personal, artistic needs. Her support and attentiveness throughout the process gave way for the artists to express freely, fully, and to commit themselves to this performance project and taking ownership of the work.


This approach should be the model for all companies, collectives, groups and and the like.
To operate within a structure that protects, provides for and invokes trust between the Muse and Maker; one that clearly demonstrates the roles that each play without the stress of cross-accountability.

Equity Folks.
Let's just start there. And keep the bus hummin...

To Learn More about how you can be of Support and Involvement on Teaching Artist along the East Coast here:


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