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ALTO: Past Residencies


ALTO: Past Residencies

Since 2010, ALTO has developed arts integrated residencies in collaboration with classroom teachers and arts specialists in NM public schools. Each residency meets NM Core Arts Standards and either Common Core Math and ELA Standards, NM STEM Ready Science Standards or NM Social Studies Standards. Below are a few examples of past ALTO residencies which have either evolved in new directions or are no longer being offered.

Songs of Freedom

The Civil rights movements of the 1960’s was driven by young people and inspired by the music they were making. In this residency, students will gain an understanding of the cultural context and influence of music during the civil rights movements in the America. Specifically, students will analyze songs from Bob Dylan and Sam Cooke, and create their own compositions based on the events of the time, and inspired by the poetry, imagery and music.

Dancing Pictures, Moving Words – The Shepherd Boy

When students transform illustration and written word into the immediacy of dance, they experience a leap forward in comprehension while simultaneously building skills transferable to other subjects. In this residency, students embody a powerfully simple story about a Diné youngster in the American Southwest by actively visualizing, questioning, inferring, and composing with the elements of dance to choreograph living landscapes and dance phrases that illustrate and expand text meaning. Veteran dance teaching artist Kathleen Kingsley guides students as they dive deeply into the essence of a story, creatively and collaboratively translating a poetic, illustrated story into a dance “text.” This is a dance literacy and language literacy residency with a focus on comprehension; specifically the reading comprehension strategies of questioning, making connections and inferring. A “text” for the purposes of the residency, is more that the written word. Illustrations are also texts, as is the final dance created by the students. The process of creating the dance, introduction of the dance elements, simple choreographic structures and practice with smaller scale challenges that build to larger ones, is carefully scaffolded for success for all students. The content of the dance is based on the book “The Shepherd Boy”. Throughout the residency, students will be referring to the book repeatedly for details, events, and emotional overtones, the identification of which will lead to a deeper understanding of the story and hence a fuller choreographed final dance. The residency also reflects best practices of the “4 C’s” (collaboration, creativity, communication and critical thinking) as well as multiple drafts, opportunities for pertinent decision-making and extensive reflective work throughout. These are also hallmarks of the creative process.

Dancing Pictures, Moving Words: “Water Dances”

In this residency based on the book ‘Water Dance” by Thomas Locker, students choreograph living waterscapes, embodying the powerful force that water plays in carving and shaping our planet. This is an integrated dance/ science literacy residency for 3rd grade focused on sequencing and visualizing the water cycle and its geographic implications for our planet. The dance content is based on 5 edited text sections from the book “Water Dance”. Veteran dance teaching artist and choreographer Kathleen Kingsley guides students as they creatively and collaboratively translate the essence of the story of water into a dance “text” through the creative process of choreography.

Songwriting and Informational Text

The purpose of this residency is to increase student comprehension of nonfiction text through the process of lyric writing to an existing melody. Some of the skills required to craft lyrics are the same skills needed to comprehend and synthesize non-fiction text. Critical reading skills require the student to distill the details of a given text into what he or she deems are the main points and supporting details. Similarly, crafting lyrics that convey a message or story into song structure requires a similar process of organizing and distilling information into the succinct language of song verse. Additionally, crafting lyrics requires a manipulation of language which can build vocabulary, explore rhyme schemes, and help the student to understand that there are often many ways of saying the same thing. In addition to building valuable academic skills, the creative process allows students to make meaningful, personal connections with school subjects as well as express and process their understanding of the subjects. By integrating curricular objectives with the creative art of music, we hope to help provide students with new tools to facilitate their own academic learning as well as gain a greater understanding of song construction and basic music theory.

Painting with Words

Students will learn about expressive language and engage with expressive art making through an exploration of creating and reflecting upon visual art and poetry.

The Art of Dialogue

Perspective, point of view, and motivation can sometimes be difficult for students to articulate. In this residency, students will explore multiple points of view in literary texts in order to create their own original.

Unlocking the Knowledge of Body Language

We recognize and act on nonverbal cues from one another all the time, but rarely do we think about what signals we are sending with our own body language. In this residency, students use the elements of dance and the principles of choreography to turn their historical research into recorded creative movement phrases. Tamara Johnson, dancer and multimedia artist, leads this active exploration of how our bodies communicate.

Patterns, Power, and Progress

Since everything in the universe is moving all the time, students can use their own movements to understand patterns of change, growth, and interconnectedness. In this residency, students use the properties, structures, and processes of living things to invent choreography that tells their stories.

Volcanoes, Land Forms/ Plate Tectonics:

When students transform science concepts into the immediacy of dance, they experience a leap forward in comprehension while simultaneously building learning skills transferable to other subjects. In this residency students choreograph living landscapes, embodying the powerful geologic forces that form our planet. his is an integrated dance/ literacy / science residency for 3rd-4th grade with a focus on understanding the processes that underlie the forming of mountains and volcanoes, including plate tectonics, convergence, divergence, subduction, translation and uplift. The dance content is based on text sections from the book “Mountain Dance” by Thomas Locker.

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For more information, please contact:

Charles Gamble
Director of School Programs