Professional Development Initiative

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For over 22 years, BAX Youth Arts Education has provided expert instruction in building technical skills in dance, tumbling, and theater with an emphasis on cultivating creative expression. Working with professional performing arts faculty, BAX students develop improvisation, original choreography, and performance skills, working independently and in collaboration. In 2013, we launched a Professional Development Initiative to consolidate the rich work that has taken place at BAX over the years, to champion our teaching artists as expert arts educators, and to better establish opportunities for mentorship and feedback.



Teaching Artist Work in Practice: Creating Space for Young Artists

Workshop 1/February 15 (Artist Services Day): Creating the Space for Community

Workshop 2/April 15 (7-9pm): Creating the Space for Performance

Pay what you can $40 / $25 / $15  |  CLICK HERE to purchase tickets.

BAX’s Professional Development Workshop Series: Creating Space for Young Artists will impart concrete tools and engage teaching artists in experiential exercises that facilitate creative and generative processes for young artists. Each workshop in the series will explore an essential stage in this process: first, creating a safe space, culture of community and collaboration; second, creating a space for creative risk-taking, choice-making, and authentic expression; and, third, creating a space for performance readiness and performer/audience awareness.

Artists and educators who are interested or currently teaching in the performing art disciplines are welcome. Every workshop will include concrete tools, interactive activities, and incorporate time for participant questions, discussion, and reflection. Participants will leave workshops with:

  • Concrete and replicable facilitation tools;
  • Flexible activities that can be applied to in-school, after school, and/or private studio programs;
  • Tools and exercises that can be tailored to varying ages, levels, and disciplines;
  • Youth-leadership and empowerment exercises and vocabulary;
  • A network of teaching artists.

Each workshop will be a self-contained experience with take-away materials and a brief overview of prior or upcoming workshops in the series. The respective workshops have, however, been designed to be part of a comprehensive overview. Participants who are able to are encouraged to attend all three for the most enriching professional development experience.

Workshop # 1/Artist Services Day February 15th: Creating Space for Young Artists
Establishing an open and trusting environment is essential to a healthy and productive learning environment. It is the facilitator’s role to create and hold this space in order for collaboration and creativity to flourish.  This workshop will look at ways to make this happen and the challenges that come up in the spaces we facilitate. We will look at tools for identifying who is in the room in order to lead to a collaborative community that engages in diverse perspectives and ideas.  By looking at different environments and participating in activities, this workshop will find ways to make connections to the daily rituals of the class and the art making we strive to engage in with young artists.

NOTE: This workshop will take place during BAX Artist Services Day. Click here for more information on the day’s events.

Workshop # 2/ March 18: Creating the Space for Original Composition
When young people create authentic uncensored original work they become powerful people. At BAX, classes offer a combination of concrete technique, structure, and freedom so that young artists can be empowered to author original composition. This workshop will focus on how to bring choice-making to the forefront of exercises and activities and allow for creative risk-taking in the learning and making of work. We will look at different feedback models for informal peer-showings in addition to dissecting and discussing what skills and tools are necessary to allow for students’ visions to become a reality.

Workshop #3 / April 15: Creating the Space for Performance
Participating in a public showing is the norm when teaching in the performing arts. This workshop will look at what is necessary to cultivate performance-readiness in our students and their work. We will look at the skills and tools that continue to be exercised as one prepares for performance and, in particular, how repetition can be used in effective ways as both a teacher and performer. The powerful act of sharing work with the public will be emphasized and explored in its many facets: as a relationship that provides the artist with feedback, as an opportunity for personal reflection, and as a place for community engagement and collaboration. #inhouse

In-house Professional Development Initiative

Piloted from January 2013 to June 2013, the initial project goals were to identify the core values, shared teaching practices, and curricula that create meaningful and progressive arts education programming. In order to do this, we drew upon our proficient teaching artists. Under the facilitation of Donna Costello, BAX Programs Consultant and Professional Development Specialist, modules were established for conducting safe faculty observations and debrief meetings to gauge, articulate, and qualify successful teaching and learning practices. Likewise, group “Enrichment” meetings took place to review specific program disciplines such as Tumbling and outline class objectives. Additionally, senior Faculty were invited to conduct specialty workshops as part of bi-annual faculty meetings. These included workshops on different ways to harness transitions, integrate mixed media learning and teaching techniques,work with student with special needs, and more. As a result of these observations, meetings, and trainings, the Education Department, working closely with Ms. Costello, reassessed and reorganized BAX class schedules, class levels, class descriptions, faculty hiring processes, and orientation practices. A guide was established to communicate to all BAX constituents these core values that inform BAX’s Educational programs: our classes; performance workshops; and seasonal festivals.

Over the 2013-2014 academic year, BAX’s Professional Development Initiative continues with Enrichment meetings around our Theater, Performance Workshop, and Early Childhood programming. We’re also exploring ways to measure class objectives and faculty performance, and to support our families navigate BAX classes and trajectories. Integral to this initiative is an understanding our history and past successes so that we can best inform our current practices and continue to grow.

Donna Costello: BAX Education Programs Consultant and Lead Facilitator; works closely with the Education Department, serves as a liaison between the department & faculty, and facilitates the Faculty Professional Development Initiative, including creating related PD documents. Beyond serving as the BAX Education Programs Consultant and Lead Facilitator, Donna also directs the annual YouthWorks Festival and the Dance Performance Workshop Level I classes and performances.

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    New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature
    NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council
    Council Member Brad Lander
    Jody and John Arnhold
    Bank United
    The Bay and Paul Foundations
    Con Edison
    The Copper Beech Foundation
    Corcoran Cares
    The Robert & Mercedes Eichholz Foundation
    Houlihan Lokey
    M&T Charitable Foundation
    The Pritchard Family Foundation
    Sterling National Bank
    The Beth M. Uffner Arts Fund
    … and our generous individual donors.