March 26, 2014


The next time you hear yourself justifying inclusion of the arts in an educational setting stop and ask if this could be true:



Then back up and ask yourself:

Is my art form a vehicle for communication?

Does my art form support personal engagement and community participation?

Does it distill my insights and synthesize my meanings?

Do I use a symbol system that emerged to support my art form?

Does my discipline support idiomatic expression for me and my community?

Does my art form invite engagement and gain meaning from critical interpretation?

Is it guided by particular structures, rules or agreed-upon [cultural] customs?

Does my discipline adapt with relocation or change over time?

Let us assume, for now, that the answers to the above are all yes!

All of the above are characteristics of BOTH language and arts disciplines. Clearly academia generally privileges written and spoken language when it defines literacy. That forces all other ways of knowing through a single sieve: language.

While trying to prove our relevance in schools today, might we have overlooked our gift to the future of education? Teaching Artists own the map to the Literacy Genome!! Each of our arts disciplines configures the guts of literacy in an unique way. (If this seems too radical a thought, go back and recheck the above list of the functions of literacy.) Our effectiveness as Teaching Artists stems from our ability to navigate the DNA of distinct literacies and engineer their relevance in school and community environments.

In the future, the rules and frameworks that govern a single literacy will be too limiting to prepare children’s intellectual fluency for a world overrun by information. The arts, if well taught, offer engagement with an array of tools that build flexible, adaptive, and – most of all – creative citizens that are able to navigate a fast-changing world.

Arts disciplines are wired to :

connect disparate domains of knowledge,
navigate parallel wisdoms
decipher hidden meanings
reveal common ground
catalyze the fusion of unrelated fields
…. (Please, please add your ideas to this list!)

We Teaching Artists “get” the DNA of literacy, whether we know it or not, and we model how its tools work. How can we get past rationalizing our relevance and set our sights on the gifts we offer the future?

True story –

I was once invited to teach a workshop at a literacy conference for elementary school educators. When I spoke on the phone with the director of the conference I asked whether I could treat dance (my arts discipline) as a distinct literacy. There followed an awkward silence…….. and then she said that she was taking a more traditional approach to literacy, one that focuses on books and language. I replied I had no problem with that and immediately set about to make a two part workshop that might wear away at the foundations of her perspectives:

Part one: Create an exercise in which teachers and children (I insisted that they provide me with a 1:1 ratio of children to adults) collaborated in the choreographing of dances based on their shared interpretation of some favorite children’s books.

Part two: Create an exercise in which teachers and children design a word-based sound-score for 60 seconds of a dance film. (If you want details, I can provide them.)

In the first exercise they translated the written ideas into movement, and in the second they translated movement ideas into words. While I never rubbed their noses in the fact that this would never have worked if dance weren’t a literacy equal in stature to the English language, I know they left with a visceral sense that literacy was a broader subject than they came in with.
– See more at:

What Stage 7 Has to Offer

November 30, 2010


Emphasize the fluid nature of responsibility for choreographic investigation between teacher and student. Learning and creating within this context gradually moves students away from dependence on teachers and toward artistic and technical independence. We engage with great choreographic works in order to apply movement concepts to a variety of contexts, and experience them directly and viscerally. Repertoire – study of classical, neo-classical, and contemporary works in order to apply ballet’s concepts artistically.

Floor Barre:

Re-orientation of the sense of how joints and muscles operate in ballet-based movements that are practiced while laying on the floor. Excellent for recovery from injury and for test-driving advanced movements safely.

Arms in Relation

In each 90-minute Feldenkrais® Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class, students will be verbally guided through a specific sequence of slow, gentle movements designed to illuminate aspects of movement and sensory awareness chosen specifically for their relevance to dancers. This series will feature four ATM lessons that will each explore the use of self in relation to one or more orientations of the arms (e.g., arms extended overhead, forwards, sideways, etc.). There will be an opportunity at the end of each lesson to explore these relationships in various orientations other than lying down on the floor. Each ATM seeks to provide a setting in which students may work at their own pace and be led by their own curiosity to rediscover and enhance their innate human capacity for graceful, effortless movement.

Benefits include:

  • Increased freedom and ease of movement
  • Improved balance and coordination
  • Increased flexibility
  • Injury prevention
  • Rehabilitation from injury
  • Increased expressive range
  • Improved understanding of skeletal anatomy as it relates to dance

4 Saturdays: 7/12, 7/19, 7/26, and 8/2
10:00 11:30 a.m.

Location: Stage 7 School of Dance
3980 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104
Cost: $60 for all 4 classes
$20 drop-in

Information/Registration**: 619-464-3856

*participation in the first Feldenkrais for Dancers workshop (Aug. ™07) is NOT a prerequisite for this class series

**Space is limited so pre-registration is required.

Registration deadline is Thursday, July 10.

Drop-ins will be admitted on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Intelligent Bodies
Feldenkrais and Dance

Co-taught by Leslie Seiters and Kristen Baum Wilcox


Each morning and afternoon segment will begin with a Feldenkrais® Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class, in which students will be verbally guided through a specific sequence of slow, gentle movements designed to illuminate aspects of movement and sensory awareness chosen specifically for their relevance to dancers. Each lesson seeks to provide a setting in which students may work at their own pace and be led by their own curiosity to rediscover and enhance their innate human capacity for graceful, effortless movement.

The second part of each morning and afternoon session will investigate and expand on movement principles and pathways introduced in the ATM lesson and will include focused improvisations, set movement sequences with an emphasis on floor-work, and finally complex movement phrases. The dancing portion of this workshop is designed to continue the awareness, efficiency and specificity generated by the ATM classes to create a refined way of œworking when dancing.

This workshop will provide contexts for disorientation and reorganization to allow dancing bodies to utilize their intelligence.

Days/Times: Friday June 6, 10:00 5:00
Saturday June 7, 9:00 4:00
Sunday June 8, 10:00 5:00*
Location: Stage 7 School of Dance
3980 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104
Cost: $200 for all three days**
$70 per day

Registration Deadline: Tuesday, June 3rd

Information/Registration: email or call 619-464-3856

*each day will include a one-hour lunch break

**A sliding scale fee structure is available for those who qualify. If you would like to be considered for a fee reduction, please let us know when you call to register.

In their steps

March 4, 2008

Adult ballet offers a variety of fitness benefits

March 4, 2008
San Diego Union Tribune

Katherine Cordova approached a ballet barre for the first time when her younger daughter, an avid dancer, left home. œShe made me take a class to give me something to concentrate on when she left, Cordova says.

Three years later, the lithe, energetic Cordova goes to five ballet classes a week. œI’m in better shape than I’ve ever been in, she says.


Cordova, who dances at Stage 7 in North Park, also enjoys the beauty of ballet as an art form. As Stage 7 director Kathryn Irey puts it, œThere’s something intrinsically satisfying about exercise that has an artistic lens.

Along with aesthetic rewards, adult ballet offers a range of fitness benefits, say Irey and other teachers who offer classes for adults.

Ballet training improves flexibility, tone, balance, coordination and posture, says Michelle Noblejas-Bartolomei of Music and the Mirror Ballet Center West in Mission Hills. œOne student went to her doctor, and she’d gained three-quarters of an inch in height by the improvement in her posture and the way she carried herself.


At the intermediate level, students get an aerobic workout, Steven Wistrich of City Ballet says. œThey do a fair amount of jumping. When they leave class, they’ve worked up a good sweat, and they’re breathing pretty hard.

œA lot of students tell me it keeps their minds sharp, Wistrich adds. That goes along with recent research on the cognitive benefits of dance.


Absolute beginners: Adult ballet attracts many people who danced as children, but there’s plenty of room for neophytes. A number of studios offer pre-beginner classes, such as Irey’s œBonehead Ballet. Irey begins each Bonehead class by drawing students’ awareness to their wrists, for instance, or their upper backs. The idea is to œfind alienated body parts and to integrate the body as a whole.

Belly up to the barre: Don’t worry that you’ll be expected to leap across the floor like Baryshnikov. Most of a beginning class is spent at the barre. œThat’s where the foundations for the center work are learned, Noblejas-Bartolomei says. The barre helps you balance as you shift your weight to one leg, freeing the other leg to trace a pattern on the floor or in the air.

No tutus required: Ordinary workout clothes are fine, though you’ll want to wear something form-fitting, so the teacher can see what you’re doing. For footwear, Irey’s Bonehead class is done in socks the wilder, the better. Other classes request ballet slippers, available for $12 and up online; you may want to spend a little more at a dance store to assure the fit of your first pair.