Lesson Learned | Alison Holland

After eight months of planning and few months of dance rehearsals, art making, and composing, L.A.-based Composer Paul Fraser, Visual Artist Mary Johnson of the Twin Cities, and I spent last week in residence at my local rural Minnesota school district.  In addition to working with students across the district that week, we set high […]

Art in Motion | Alison Holland

Students pose as “sculptures” while others practice their quick drawing When I was in elementary school, my art teacher Judy Broekemeier shepherded a group of us young students around our rural town of 3,000 with sketch pads and pencils. We drew a Victorian style home, bicycles at my family’s store, the town’s small lake, and […]

Round Pegs & Square Holes | Meg Mahoney

Creating a permanent place for the arts in public education requires some adjustment between the two in order to create a fit — a whittling process that usually affects the art more than the public institution within which it’s finding a home. Given the current trends in educational reform, with emphasis on standardized testing, accountability, […]

Kindling the Spark | Meg Mahoney

I’ve been honored to be a contributor to the TAJ online exchange of ideas since last August, even as I’ve felt sort of odd-man-outish. Being a certified dance specialist, located in one school for the past fifteen years, my context is quite different from itinerant teaching artists, especially in the most recent (and most stultifying) […]

Too Much to Ask: Dance Without Music | Meg Mahoney

Alimah and Farihah are my students. They’re both cheerful, attentive, kind, lively, quick, and participatory. Alimah, a first grader, is shy, but she’s a great partner for anyone in the class. Any student, boy or girl, calm or wildly off-task, gets their work done when paired with her, because she can be on-task and have […]

The Power of a Hula Hoop | Meg Mahoney

Early in my first months of teaching my students with Autism, I discovered that hula hoops held a special power. One day at the end of class, we’d been working hard on structured activities with variable success: lots of cajoling of individual students, with them alternately joining and wandering away from our activities. Exhausted, I […]