TAPIT/new works producing artistic directors, Donna Peckett and Danielle Dresden, have more than 20 years experience as teaching artists working with school-age children. Their background includes extensive Kennedy Center training, which is widely considered the gold standard for arts education. Peckett and Dresden have developed a model residency format in which they teach area children the basics of drama and dance, guide children in using these tools to bring their classroom studies and family histories to life, and promote self-expression and cross-cultural communication.

This deep dive into experience-based, hands-on arts education activities, provides students with a comprehensive approach to the distinct yet complimentary disciplines of dance and drama, enhances their engagement with classroom curriculum, and promotes cooperation between students, parents, teachers, and counselors.

In each residency, Peckett and Dresden guide children through participatory workshops to increase student knowledge, experience, and self-expression through drama and dance. Students learn the basics of these disciplines from professional artists and use these skills to develop their own short scenes and movement vignettes. Each step of this process links back to classroom curriculum and students’ personal experiences. 

Students present their work for fellow students, teachers, and family members if possible. Before the residency begins, classroom teachers/program coordinators receive a questionnaire students can use to interview family members and friends about their own cultural heritage. Combined with classroom work in Social Studies and History, this material forms the subject matter students bring to life through theater and dance. In class sessions, residency artists cover:

      • The importance of diversity in our society and the essential roles of imagination, inclusiveness, respect, and team work in the arts
      • The basic tools of acting and the basic patterns of movement
      • Working with motivation and dramatic conflict to write a scene
      • Working with rhythm and tempo in movement vignettes
      • Combining scene work and movement vignettes to bring their cultural heritage to life
      • The process of giving and receiving constructive feedback