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ALTO: Arts Integration

ALTO: Bringing Learning to Life through the Arts

Arts Integration is an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Opera includes elements of all art forms, so ALTO teaching artists give students creative tools in Dance, Theater, Music, Poetry, Visual Arts or Media Arts while students engage in a creative process to make original art that expresses their understanding of something else they’re learning in school. Since 2010, ALTO teaching artists have led over 300 arts integrated multi-session residencies in the Santa Fe Public Schools. Current residencies are listed below, some of which are also available for students in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Española.

2022-2023 – Arts Integration Offerings

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Residency Descriptions

STEM Connections (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)

Shape-Shifting Geometry
3 sessions, Grades 2-3
This experiential unit of study will explore and reinforce students’ understanding of two- dimensional (circle, square, triangle, rectangle) and three-dimensional shapes (sphere, cube, pyramid). They will be creating these shapes with their bodies. The students will be challenged in the first two sessions to create these different shapes working in small groups of two or three students. The third session will challenge the students to use shapes to create a short skit based on a poem by Shel Silverstein poem called “Shapes”. These three sessions can be scheduled over one or two weeks. Teaching Artist: Wendy Chapin

Volcano Dance: Forming the Valles Caldera
5 sessions, Grades 3-6
When students transform earth science into the immediacy of movement, they experience a leap forward in comprehension while simultaneously building learning skills transferable to other subjects. In this residency students choreograph the powerful geologic forces behind one of the largest volcanic eruptions in this continent, the Valles Caldera. This is an integrated dance / literacy / science residency for 3rd-6th grade with a focus on understanding the processes that underlie the formation of volcanoes in general and the Valles Caldera in particular. Concepts including plate tectonics, convergence, divergence, subduction, translation and uplift are translated into dance. Teaching Artist: Kathleen Kingsley

New Mexico Desert: Story of Sand
5 sessions, Grades 2-3
This is a 5-day integrated dance/science literacy residency focused on sequencing and moving the rock cycle. Building on the FOSS 2nd grade science unit entitled “Pebbles, Sand and Silt: The Story of Sand”, students improvise dance phrases, embodying the changes over time that break down rocks to sand, and the roles that water and wind play in that process. In the process we look at various New Mexico locations where that process is clearly visible. The dance content is based on these naturally occurring events. Veteran dance teaching artist Kathleen Kingsley guides students as they creatively and collaboratively translate the essence of the story of sand into a dance “text” through a creative group process. Teaching Artist: Kathleen Kingsley

New Mexico: Where Does Our Water Come From?
5 sessions, Grades 3-5
In this residency students choreograph living waterscapes, embodying the powerful force that water plays in carving and shaping our planet and specifically our state. This is an integrated dance/ science literacy residency for 3rd-5th grades, focused on sequencing and visualizing the water cycle and its geographic implications for New Mexico. Veteran dance teaching artist and choreographer Kathleen Kingsley guides students as they creatively and collaboratively translate the essence of the story of water in New Mexico into a dance “text” through the creative process of choreography. Teaching Artist: Kathleen Kingsley

Dry Bones Dancing
5 sessions, Grades 3-5

In this arts integration residency, students explore musculoskeletal anatomy through improvisation and choreography. Students are guided through activities which encourage a playful approach to movement and dance. As students move, they build connections between their own bodies and a broader understanding of musculoskeletal anatomy. Then, students learn how to create and refine their own sequences of movement. The residency culminates in small group presentations of choreography created and performed by students. This class is designed to work in 3rd-5th grade classrooms. Led by experienced dance educator Julianna Massa, students will discover how their bodies are ideal tools for learning and creativity. Teaching Artist: Julianna Massa

Math on the Move
5 sessions, Grades 3-5

Students frequently feel frustrated when asked to master mathematical skills without fully understanding the ideas behind those skills, or the ways in which they apply in daily life. In this lively residency, students explore numeracy, symbols, geometry, and collaborative choreography that bring mathematical ideas to life. Students create individual and small-group movement studies based on simple but powerful truths behind everyday math skills, and they will evaluate, edit, and revise their work before recording it on video. No previous dance experience is necessary, and children of all abilities can fully participate. Teaching Artist: Randy Barron

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English Language Arts Connections

Be Your Own Poet Laureate
5 sessions, Grades K2-12
2021-2023 Santa Fe Poet Laureate Darryl Lorenzo Wellington will help students strengthen their language skill and cultivate imaginative and creative abilities, facilitating a 5-session residency where students read poems, discuss poem, critique poems, and—most importantly — write their own. Students learn to ask “Why?” — what is a poem, why is a metaphor successful, and why does a line of poetry appeal to me? The residency plan can adapt for both elementary school students and higher grades, including high school students studying literature, or students in dance, music, gymnastics history, social studies, or science, who are interested in writing cross-disciplinary poetry. Teaching Artist: Darryl Lorenzo Wellington

Poetry as Narrative Writing
5 sessions, Grades 3-12
Often, constructing a written narrative seems challenging to students who may struggle to see the main ideas in a sequence of paragraphs. Applying the principles of narrative writing to poetic forms and conventions, students learn to tell evocative stories, both fictional and non-fictional, in their own words. Santa Fe Poet Laureate Darryl Lorenzo Wellington leads this creative approach to teaching narrative writing with joy, inquiry, and discovery. Teaching Artist: Darryl Lorenzo Wellington

Dancing New Mexico’s Stories: Poetry in Motion
5 sessions, Grades 3-6
Poetry offers a compatible form or structure for choreography as well as a springboard into movement that can be concrete or abstract, simple or complex, depending on student age, comprehension level and experience. Students connect more deeply with poetry when they involve their bodies in expressing meaning. Throughout the residency students will explore moving to words, phrases and whole poems presented as a series of short “movement problems” which they must solve choreographically. Poems range from simple haikus, and poetry centered around the southwest for younger grades to works from poets of New Mexico. Teaching Artist: Kathleen Kingsley

Dancing New Mexico’s Stories: The Poetry of New Mexican Poets
7 sessions, Grades 7-12
This is an integrated dance / ELA residency for middle and high school students with a focus on comprehension and expression; specifically strategies of questioning, making connections and inferring. Literacy encompasses many kinds of “text” including dance. Veteran dance teaching artist Kathleen Kingsley guides students as they probe for details, events, and emotional overtones to deepen the “story” behind the poems of Levi Romero, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Nora Naranjo Morse, Michelle Otero, and Penny Harter, turning images and feelings into meaningful choreography. Teaching Artist: Kathleen Kingsley

Breathing Life into Literature
5 sessions, Grades 3-6
Literary text can be daunting to young readers, who may find the conventions of fiction difficult going. In this residency, students will use the theater strategies of tableau and dialogue to create, perform, and record a written script based on an appropriate literary work. Wendy Chapin, theater director and long-time ALTO teaching artist, leads this deep exploration of meaning and story. Teaching Artist: Wendy Chapin

Poetry As The Means We Need
Spoken-word and Performance Poetry Residency
5 Sessions, Grades 6-12
Seen as a “step-child” of academic poetry, spoken-word/performance poetry (or slam poetry) is a poetry form that is infinite and accessible to all students. This type of poetry, most importantly, opens the door for poets to use their whole body, and space, to make a poem come alive! In this workshop, through different writing exercises, students will write their own spoken-word poems and will be exposed to different performing styles, and will learn memorizing techniques to recite their poem like a seasoned poetry slam poet. This workshop will ask students to explore the power of their own story as a means to create change, not be forgotten, and inspire others to do the same. This residency is suitable for all humanities classes. Teaching Artist: Alejandro Jimenez

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Social Studies & Life Skills Connections

Physical Education with the Brain in Mind
5 sessions, Grades K-4
Research has shown without a doubt that physical movement is essential for brain development, yet the school day is heavily focused on stationary instruction, with minimal time devoted to educating students’ bodies. Based on the dance elements of Body, Energy, Space and Time (BEST), this residency is an introduction to movement skill-building strategies for elementary PE education. Led by Kathleen, each class is a model of a developed lesson plan that involves a BrainDance, an introduction and exploration of one of the “sub” elements, physical skill development, and creative problem-solving. Sessions include both somatic awareness techniques and creative dance activities, and are completely aligned with the New Mexico Physical Education standards for the targeted grade levels. Teaching Artist: Kathleen Kingsley

Breathing Life into New Mexico History
5 sessions, Grades 3-6
This unit of study is based on any event from New Mexican history that the teacher would like to focus on. The students will create tableaus (frozen pictures) of 5 key moments that tell the story of that historical event. The students in the class will assigned to 4 or 5 small working groups. Each group will create a frozen picture or tableau of a key moment in the timeline of that event. They will also write a narration which will go with their tableau when they present it to another class. The students will infer from their study of the historical event some of the emotions that the people might have had during that time. Their embodied experience of creating these tableaus bring the historical event into the present in a way that allows them to gain a deeper insight and understanding as well as empathy for what happened. It allows history to come alive. These 5 sessions can be scheduled over two to four weeks. Teaching Artist: Wendy Chapin

Embodied Biography
5 sessions, Grades 5-6
Students often struggle with biographies of characters from very different times and places. In this residency, students will use the Actor’s Tools of body movement, voice, and imagination to become the characters they are studying and then write a monologue they will perform as the character. Wendy Chapin, well-known Santa Fe director and teaching artist, leads this literally moving residency to make learning about history an engaging experience. Teaching Artist: Wendy Chapin

Maps in Motion
5 sessions, Grades 3-6
Map reading is increasingly a lost art, yet maps can give us so much perspective in multiple ways. In this residency, students learn the tools of mapping to create written maps and then put them into creative movement choreography that gives a sense of place and belonging. Multi-disciplinary teaching artist Tamara Johnson guides students through the steps to create their own artistic maps in motion. Teaching Artist: Tamara Johnson

Migration: Movement and Meaning
5 sessions, Grades 3-6
Once students have a grasp of basic mapping skills, they can use maps to show their understanding of changes in their local community or region over time. Students in this residency focus on migration patterns of the various peoples who live and have lived in northern New Mexico, and then create original choreography to demonstrate their understanding of migration. Tamara Johnson leads this engaging and discovery-packed residency. Teaching Artist: Tamara Johnson

Exploring New Mexico History through Corridos
5 sessions, Grades 4-12

When students create a piece of music about a historical subject, they greatly increase their comprehension of the subject, and gain important learning skills. In this residency, students will work together to create a corrido (ballad) about Rafael Chacón in the Battle of Valverde, or any important figure or event in New Mexican history. Dr. Beth Ratay, an experienced composer and scholar of world musics, leads this session, focusing on students’ ability to synthesize historical facts into a deeper understanding of how these events shape our collective and individual lives. Teaching Artist: Beth Ratay

The Passion Project, An Exploration of Self and Identity
5 sessions, Grades 9-12

In this residency, high school students will explore a self-selected topic connected to their personal identity using “arts based research.” The residency begins with students building and constructing an “artful journal” with recycled materials and found paper ephemera. The journals then become a place to document their research on identity, as described in the New Mexico Social Studies Standards. Students develop their project through a handful of scaffolded creative practices, such as found word poetry, blind contour drawing, and practice interviews. The students will then research on their own using the internet, interviewing experts, having an experience, reading a book, watching a video and MORE! All of their key takeaways are creatively recorded in their journals and with each other in class. Teaching Artist: Michelle Holdt

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Rio Rancho Students 2020
kids on the floor doing lessons
kids in the classroom

Teaching Artists

Randy Barron Headshot

Randy Barron has classroom teaching experience dating back to 1980, and he served as a touring Kennedy Center Teaching Artist from 1995-2021. Randy has led hundreds of professional development events for teachers and teaching artists, in forty US States, as well as in Singapore. Randy danced and choreographed professionally with dance companies from Boston and New York City to the Midwest, and he served as a founding Artistic Director of City in Motion Dance Theater in Kansas City, Missouri. Randy has a wide range of experience in education. He has been a charter school founder, a charter high school director, a curriculum writer — and even a school bus driver. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology, and he is also a former volunteer firefighter and EMT. Randy has received the Coll Award of Distinction from the New Mexico Art Education Association. He lives with his wife on the Santa Fe Trail near Las Vegas, New Mexico, just an hour’s drive from their twelve-year-old, identical twin grand-daughters.

Wendy Chapin

Wendy Chapin is a theater artist who began teaching in the Santa Fe public schools in 2001 independently as a theater teacher, working with integrated arts for the Alto Program, and working for Artworks a Lincoln Center Program sponsored by Partners in Education. She also teaches for Southwestern College where she got her MA in Art Therapy.

Michelle Holdt Headshot

Michelle Holdt is an enthusiastic arts integration specialist and leader with a strong commitment to leading an arts rich life and making creative practice available for all children. She has over 20 years experience in arts education as a drama teacher, professional development leader, and arts administrator in a wide variety of educational settings. She was the Arts and Restorative Learning Coordinator at the San Mateo County Office of Ed and holds a Masters and Credential in Educational Administration from San Francisco State University, an Art Integration Certificate with The Alliance for Arts Learning Leadership, a BA in Drama and Human Development from Harvard University, a Masters in Theatre and Dance from the University of New Mexico, and a clear K-8 multiple subject credential from New College of California in San Francisco.

Alejandro Jimenez headshot

Alejandro Jimenez is a formerly-undocumented immigrant, poet, writer, and educator from Colima, Mexico, living in New Mexico. He placed 3rd at the 2022 Abya Yala Poetry Slam Championships held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which brought together 15 national poetry slam champions from 15 countries in North, South, Central America and the Caribbean. He is the 2021 Mexican National Poetry Slam Champion, he is a two-time National Poetry Slam Semi-Finalist (US), multiple time TEDx Speaker/Performer, and a regional Emmy-nominated poet. In 2022, he was featured in TIME Magazine as one of 80 Mexican artists shaping contemporary Mexican culture. His work centers and touches on cultural identity, immigrant narratives, masculinity, memory, and the intersections of them all.

Tamara Johnson

Tamara Johnson is a dancer, educator, and writer. She has been designing and facilitating experiential education programming for over a decade. She is passionate about the power of dance to overcome language barriers and cultivate empathy. Tamara is currently the Executive Director and Co-Artistic Director of MoveWest and a Course Development Specialist in the Institute of American Indian Arts department of Online Learning.

Kathleen Kingsley

Kathleen Kingsley is a dancer/choreographer/dance educator. As co-founder of City in Motion Dance Theater in Kansas City, Missouri, she choreographed for and danced with the resident company. She also initiated the first of four children’s dance theaters. She is a graduate of Anne Green Gilbert’s Summer Teacher Institute in creative dance. Her work in dance straddles both the teaching artist and school educator roles. As co-founder of the Río Gallinas School for Ecology and the Arts in Las Vegas, New Mexico she developed and taught the dance curriculum for grades 1-8. She established the dance department at the United World College of the American West (UWC-USA) and developed the IB dance curricula. Currently Kathleen is co-founder and executive artistic director of MoveWest Center for Movement Exploration in Santa Fe. She is also ALTO’s Residency Program Coordinator.

Julianna Massa headshot

Julianna Massa (she/they) is a dance artist based in Albuquerque, NM, trained in modern/contemporary dance. Her work centers around a love and respect for the messy imperfection of human bodies moving together in space, asking how dance can bring us towards shared visions of the future. Recently, Julianna was on the faculty for the inaugural Albuquerque Contemporary Dance Festival. Julianna has experience teaching dance and creative movement to children and adults with Albuquerque Public Schools, Harwood Art Center, OT Circus Arts Connections, and Keshet Dance and Center for the Arts.

Beth Ratay headshot, ALTO teaching artist

Beth Ratay is a versatile composer who is able to craft music using a wide variety of styles and techniques. From music possessed of a quiet, understated grace, to music based on mathematical concepts, to emotive and hilarious opera, Ratay’s music is engaging, charming and beautiful. Dr. Ratay has had her music performed by diverse ensembles from across the United States. Her studies on the relationship of text to music in the work of Leoš Janáček and symmetric or layered musical structures in the music of Harrison Birtwistle strongly informs her own compositions. Beth also has been teaching music to people of all ages for over 25 years. Her experience includes individual instrumental and compositional instruction, music fundamentals and general education music courses for adults, and music basics for kids for all ages. Beth believes that learning music teaches many important and fundamental skills including social/emotional skills, math skills, and problem solving skills.


Darryl Lorenzo Wellington is the 2021-2023 Poet Laureate of Santa Fe, NM. He also writes a syndicated editorial column for The Progressive Media Project. Since 2016, he has been a Writing/Communications Fellow with Center for Community Change, a Washington DC-based organization that supports low-income people of color. Last year, he presented talks and workshops on poetry at over fifteen Santa Fe elementary, middle and high schools.

theater with glowing lights at night with hills in background

For more information, please contact:

Charles Gamble
Director of School Programs