Hip-Hop to ArtsMentors June 17

Raphael Xavier break dancing at USJ

“Mentoring can happen in any moment, whether it is during a simple conversation or going to an event together. ArtsMentors invites you to conversations and performances to have your mentorship moments at the Autorino Center for the Arts.” Its an opportunity to nurture your relationship and forge new ones.

ArtsMentors is a creation of Steven Raider-Ginsberg, Director of the Autorino Center at the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) and co-founder of Hartford’s avant-garde Hartbeat Ensemble.  The program “is designed to increase the number of quality mentoring relationships” with the express purpose of expanding the capacity of existing youth programs.

On June 17 ArtsMentors launches its first full season of innovative hands-on programs at USJ during its annual Arts Day where participants will have a special opportunity to take part in hands-on art making designed to serve 100 mentor/mentee pairs. The day will include four rotating arts workshops, lunch and a tour of the USJ campus.

Here’s a snapshot of Arts Day:

RSVP to dwalsh@usj.edu

Established in 2016 as a pilot program in collaboration with the Governor’s Prevention Partnership (GPP), and support from the Richard P. Garmany Fund, ArtsMentors targets its programming toward sixth through ninth grade youth. It’s a student population identified by GPP as the most in need of mentoring programs, according to Debra Walsh, locally celebrated actor (especially with HartBeat Ensemble) and newly appointed ArtsMentors Program Director. ArtsMentors events provide free mentoring opportunities through interactive theater, contemporary dance, music, and cultural story telling performances. ArtsMentors programming includes:

  • Attending live performance events
  • Having dinner
  • Meeting artists
  • Participating in hands-on workshops

ArtsMentors multiple goals include:

  • providing area mentorship programs with an arts education program
  • developing a positive relationship with an institution of higher education
  • providing an activity mentors and their mentees can do together
  • developing direct, personal connections with artists and faculty by attending live performance events, and gaining a hands-on creative expression experience   

ArtsMentors Program Details:

During the inaugural season, participants will be invited to attend four live events at the Autorio Center. Before each performance participants will have an opportunity to meet the artists and experts in the performing genre. This activity prepares them to consider a “Guiding Question” intended to focus their thoughts, as well as provide background context for each performance’s themes.

As examples of ArtsMentors program offerings, last winter participants attended and took part in the following performances:

  • Bone Hill: The Concert, a dramatic musical work inspired by Martha Redbone’s family lineage and her return to the Harlan County, KY coal-country of the Appalachian Mountains.
    • Guiding Questions: “Where do the cultures in my community originate and what are the personal stories?”
  • Point of Interest, Raphael Xavier‘s “new program repertoire built from solo, duets, and trios over the past fours years that culminates is a classically constructed quintet [exploring] the sustainability of a highly physical dance form associated with youth.” 
    • Guiding Question: “How do we use the energy and vitality of our youth to age, develop and contribute to society in a positive way?”
  • PEP Talk, Hand2Mouth Theater presented its “interactive theatrical presentation of coaches, teams and everyday heroes that combine the bravado of Muhammad Ali and the gravitas of Vince Lombardi.” The performance created an art/sport atmosphere that inspired audiences to reflect on the past, cheer the present, and step from passive observers to active participants. 
    • Guiding Question: “What are the outcomes of positive speaking and positive thought? How do we accomplish what we think is unachievable?”
  • 5X5 Dance Festival, one of Connecticut’s “most important dance events, featured interaction, performances, and master classes between professional and collegiate dancers.”
    • Guiding question: “What are the various contemporary dance forms?”

ArtsMentors provides a dynamic and creative program to develop and enhance youth and mentor relationships. And its FREE! 

All who are interested should contact ArtsMentors Program Director Debra Walsh at dwalsh@usj.edu right away. ArtsMentors is an innovative opportunity not to be missed.

Don Shaw, Jr.
Writer and Editor

Blog post source text and quotations courtesy of Steven Raider-Ginsberg and Debra Walsh.Photos by Andy Hart provided courtesy of Steven Raider-Ginsberg.

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