SARAH'S SUNDAY SCOOP FROM February 9th, 2016
By: Sarah Trested
INTERVIEW WITH KYL/D'S Youth education coordinator: Gracianna coscia
(SARAH): Hi Gracie! can you tell me a little more about you personally as an educator, what education work led you up to becoming the Youth Education Coordinator for KYL/D?
(GRACIE): I went to Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance, and graduated in 2013 with my BFA in Dance. While at Temple I met Kun-Yang, who’s CHI Awareness Practice instantly drew me in as a student. I took Kun-Yang’s class for all four years of my undergraduate career. It was at Temple that I also met Dr. Teresa Benzwie, to whom became my mentor, teaching me the world of dance education. I took several of her classes where we taught academic lessons through movement to children in the Philadelphia and New Jersey Area. I continue to study under both Kun-Yang’s and Dr. Teresa Benzwie’s influence.
(SARAH): Tell us more about your role at KYL/D...
(GRACIE): There are many roles that I as the Youth Education Coordinator do at KYL/D to keep the educational programming growing. There is what I will refer to as the back scene work: contacting schools, meeting with principals, scheduling classes, and working on funding. Then there is the creative aspect: creating the curriculum and lesson plans. Finally there is the teaching aspect, where you get to connect to the students and allow them to explore artistically.
(SARAH): Can you explain CHI Dance more, and why it is important?
(GRACIE): To me teaching should be child centered, where the whole child as an individual should be celebrated. Its through CHI Awareness that I think children can really dive deeper, and connect to their bodies and minds in ways that ground them, bring joy, and a greater sense of creativity. CHI Dance is special because it connects to themes of mindfulness, breath, body awareness, working as a group, as well as themes such as anger management and self control. For young people (and all people), these are such valuable things to learn. CHI Dance does this in a way that is accessible and fun at the same time. Children are provided with tools to focus through their bodies, breath, and awareness. In our fast paced and often times crazed world, having tools to be able to focus inward, self reflect, and share love/spirit through movement, is very important to keep us grounded. To me the relationship between dance and education for CHI Dance is the CHI, it’s the in between space, it’s the breath, it’s the life force.
(SARAH): What has been successful in introducing the CHI Dance program to schools?
(GRACIE): I will use the 1st grade students at Southwark School, in South Philadelphia, as an example. By the end of our 8 weeks together, I would come into a room of 28 children, all seated crisscross applesauce, hands on knees, quiet and ready. I’d quietly come sit with them, placing my hands on my knees. I’d have them close their eyes and together as a group we’d take 3 deep and beautiful breaths together. They were focused, they had found their CHI, even if after those three deep breaths they got distracted. The success is also found when you have those same children partner together and there is a gentleness found with each other, that can be hard for young children to with a lot of energy to find. It’s the focus and self awareness, that mindfulness exercises can bring for kids that I think is most successful.
(SARAH): What three words would you use to explain the CHI Dance Program?
(GRACIE): Mindfulness, Breath, and Fun.
But just three words can't explain the entire program!
To learn more, please visit our education and outreach page HERE
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