A&H in the City Gibney Slideshow | Teachers College Columbia University

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A&H in the City: Gibney Dance Community Action

Due to popular demand, A&H in the City held their first ever workshop in the summer.

Alumni from the department headed to Gibney Dance Studio to participate in a workshop organized by their Community Action initiative. As part of Gibney Dance’s philosophy, they partner with shelters around the City and work with women who have dealt with domestic violence to help them take agency over their own bodies. Workshop organizers Amy Miller, Associate Artistic Director, and Yasemin Ozumerzifon, TC Alumna and Senior Community Action Manager, adapted their movement curriculum to be useful to A&H in the City participants. The workshop aimed not only to help participants be comfortable in their bodies,but also to be easily translated into the classroom.

The A&H in the City series is mainly attended by TC alumni who are in-service teachers or in administrative school roles. Alyson Greenfield, Event Producer for the Department of Arts and Humanities, says that events focusing on movement are meant to bring teachers and people in the education system into a space where they can be introduced to new ideas and methods.

In the workshop, participants were asked to describe characteristics about themselves in three movements. Following these ice breakers, alumni wrote down answers to questions including, “What do you need more of in your life?” They then made pairs and translated these responses into movements to share with the whole group. To unpack the workshop, alumni took part in a conversation with Adele Bruni Ashley, Lecturer in the Program of English and English Education, and Catherine Box, Instructor in the TESOL and Applied Linguistics Program, both of whom have extensive experience in movement and education.

“One of my missions working on A&H in the City is to help demystify barriers to the arts because I personally believe that everyone can have access to the arts and it can be beneficial for use in the classroom, especially when talking about multiple intelligences,” said Ms. Greenfield. In comparison with traditional school settings where learning usually takes place sitting at a desk, incorporating movement can awaken different parts of the brain. “When you use your body, you can actually embody a different experience that for some students might be more beneficial in the learning process,” she said.

Dr. Box, who also attended the A&H in the City workshop with Alvin Ailey, says the workshop allowed everyone to connect physically, professionally, and socially. “Educators need quiet moments like this, away from their classrooms and offices, when we can put the paperwork and standards and meetings aside, and focus on taking care of ourselves through experiencing a rich intellectual moment, feeling our bodies in space, and just 'being' with others who share our passion for education and the arts.”

Picture of Nori KatoNori Kato is a Staff Writer and Office Assistant for the Department of Arts and Humanities. She is also a graduate of the International Educational Development program at Teachers College.


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