Enrichments change from year to year in response to changes in curricula and varying needs of students from year to year. Below are several examples of what has been offered in previous years and information about program teachers. For information about enrichments we hope to offer in 2019-20, click here.
Music Together (PreK and K)
The Music Together curriculum is purposefully constructed with a wide variety of meters and modes of music. Combined with movement, the curriculum supports language, vocabulary and literacy learning, mathematics, fine and gross motor skills, as well as social and emotional development, all in a super fun and engaging class! Musically, the goal of this program is to bring children to their individual level of Basic Music Competency. Basic Music Competency is defined as being able to match pitch, sing in tune, as well as move, walk and dance accurately to a variety of meters and diminutions of meter. This will enhance their ability to understand and succeed in formal music training later on if they wish. For more information about this exciting new program at 217, visit http://rimusictogether.com/,to learn about Music Together and our neighborhood partner that is bringing this program to our school.
Our Music Together teacher, Owen, has been a Musical Theatre actor for 29 years. On Broadway: Shogun, the Musical (1990-91), Rent (1999-2008), and Allegiance, A New Musical (2015-16). Broadway National Tours: 42nd Street (1987-88), Miss Saigon (1991-94), The King & I (1995-96), Rent (1997-99). Owen has his Bachelors of Arts degree in Theater and Music from CUNY Hunter College (2011), and will be receiving his Masters of Arts degree this Fall also from CUNY Hunter College.
West African Dance (3rd Grade)
In conjunction with, and to further the students understanding of their studies of West Africa, the West African Dance residency immerses students in the culture of West Africa through dance and drumming. In the introductory session, students learn about the roots of the drum in West Africa, what purpose it served, the different types of drums/sounds, and their influence on today. They are then taught about dance in the West African culture in the same way and introduced to a basic movement that teaches them timing and stage direction. Following this session, they begin to dive deeper in the culture with movement that tells a story from a particular region of West Africa. They learn choreography, staging, and do research for narration. The residency culminates into a performance for parents with live drummers, costuming, dance, and student narration.
Teacher Lamine Thaim is a world-renowned dancer, choreographer, drummer and actor, and specializes in West African Dance from his native Senegal and neighboring countries, including rhythms such as Sabar, Djembe, and Bougarrabou. He has graced the stage at venues worldwide including Carnegie Hall, Symphony Space, The United Nations and Lincoln Center (NY), as well as theaters in Japan, Germany, London, Mexico and the Caribbean."
Barbara Parker's experience as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer spans over 25 years, with the Bernice Johnson Dance Studio, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Harlem School of the Arts and the Clark Center, extensively in African Dance, Jazz, Modern and Ballet, as well as Alvin Ailey and the Broadway Dance Center in Jazz and Modern, Ballet, Theatre Dance and Hip Hop. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center and the Harlem School of the Arts. She is a dancer and choreographer at the Main Street Theatre & Dance Alliance, teaching Teen Hip Hop & Choreography, Pilates and AERO/Pump fitness class. Barbara teaches and choreographed numerous dance pieces in West African, Jazz, Hip Hop and Theatre dance in the New York public and private schools, and has organized and choreographed dance productions for the Vanderbilt and McBurney YMCA New York City street fairs.
Ballroom Dance (5th Grade)
Ballroom/Social dance has been proven to address the "positive development of self-confidence, respect and respectability, good manners, cooperation, as well as socialization skills" says a NYC Principal about the Dancing Classrooms program. Alex, who is a teacher for Dancing Classrooms and featured in the "Mad Hot Ballroom" documentary, believes in the importance of these skills for today's students. Fifth grade is a transitional year for students developmentally, physically and emotionally. Ballroom dancing addresses both of these areas of development in pre-teen students. Social dancing has been used to bridge cultures and communities together since the beginning of time. The goal of the program is to connect students with one another in a disciplined and respectful manner through partner dancing in a non-competitive and fun environment.
Alex Tchassov has performed for the Moscow Ballroom Dance Company and the American Ballroom Theatre Company. An experienced professional dance instructor, Alex has taught in his native Russia, as well as at various studios in the Tri-State Area including MSTDA and The School of American Ballet at Lincoln Center. Alex presently has a large base of students of all levels and works for Dancing Classrooms, a special dance program that was adopted by the New York City Schools as a part of the required curriculum. Alex and his students were featured in the awardwinning film, Mad Hot Ballroom.
Musical Theatre Workshop (4th grade)
Jonathan Fadner is a composer, arranger, music director, teacher, and rock and roller who grew up in southern California. He has a music degree with honors from UC Berkeley, and a Masters of Fine Arts from NYU Tisch in Musical Theater Writing. His work has been produced by Barrington Stage Company, Naap New York, Main Street Theater and Dance Alliance, 23 Elephants, and many other companies. His songs have been heard in such Venues as 54 below, Don't Tell Mamma's, Sardi's, The Duplex, and other cabaret spots in New York City. He has had his classical music performed at several colleges, choral groups, and choruses. Jonathan's arrangements and orchestrations have been heard at San Francisco Playhouse, Berkeley Playhouse, MSTDA NY, and several other venues. Jonathan also teaches piano, guitar, songwriting, composition, and is a freelance music director. He is a teaching artist that specializes in helping large groups in and out of the classroom write their own theater pieces and music. Jonathan brings his expertise in musical theatre writing, music composition, and song writing to the Musical Theatre Workshop enrichment program. He is thrilled to work with the 5th grade students at PS/IS 217 and looks forward to seeing what they create together!
Kimbirdlee Fadner graduated with honors from Mills College in Music: Vocal Performance and Dance. She is the founder of the Millismas Opera Club. She continued her training in acting, voice, musical theatre and dance at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. Kimbirdlee embraces the opportunity to develop and promote arts education and share her love for the arts with children. In 2014, she founded “Superstars”, a preschool theatre class, at Kon Gen International Preschool in which she created original music, stories, art and choreography. She brought this class to MSTDA this year as the new “Playmakers” class! As a teaching artist, she offers private music lessons and teaches for American Dance & Drama in NYC schools. She’s been a featured performer at Sardi’s, 54Below and NYU in NYC. She performs as lead singer in a band called DeLaMuse, which has 2 CDs - “Foolish Heart” and “Let it Rain” and is the Artist-in-Residence for a Midwest-based Big Band that features her voice on their CD, “The 40s: A Sentimental Journey”. Kimbirdlee brings her staging, performance, vocal training, and dance experience to the Musical Theatre Workshop enrichment program. It is her mission to encourage everyone to follow their dreams and she strives to instill her belief that everyone is an inspired creative being. She hopes to inspire the students of PS/IS 217!
Theatre Games (Grades 6-8)
Eva MeiLing Pollitt (also known as Mei Mei) is a writer, director, actor, and teaching artist from Colorado who lives in Brooklyn. She has acted with the Undermain Theatre in Dallas and The Actor's Studio in New York, has had her writing work presented with Bare Wire Theatre, and has directed, written for, and performed in several productions through her University. Eva has a BFA in Theatre and a BA in World Languages from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. During the summers of her university career, Eva travelled to France, Scotland, and Russia to do research on International Theatre. Eva also holds an arts-endorsed high school diploma from Denver School of the Arts.
As a teacher, Eva has worked at the Denver Center for Performing Arts Education for several summers, first as an intern, and then as a Head Theatre Teacher for preschool and elementary school students. Eva spent the last school year (2015-16) working as an English-teaching assistant in the French Alps. Here, she worked with French middle school students learning English as a second language; leading conversation classes and giving cultural presentations, but also directing small plays and using theatre games as tools for language acquisition. Eva believes theatre is a vital tool in education. It develops students' body/mind integration, improves their communication skills, and encourages their confidence and creativity. She is thrilled to be working with the students at Roosevelt Island, and she hopes to create the safe, inspiring, and playful space for them that she has always found for herself while doing theatre!
Dylan Guerra is an alum of Southern Methodist University where he graduated with a B.F.A in Theatre. He has taught acting and playwriting workshops at various middle and high schools in Miami, Dallas and New York City. His plays have been presented throughout the East coast at various theaters including the Byron Carlyle Theater in Miami and La MaMa in NYC. Dylan has acted in various improv troupes, plays and musicals around the South East and recently made his move to the city in July. He most looks forward to working with the students at PS/IS 217 on expanding their creativity, confidence and ability to have fun on stage!