Student & Teaching Artist Spotlight
Xalma, Carolina, Andrea & Alexis
“I came to Living Arts when I was five or six,” states 18-year-old Xalma Palomino. “The studio was right around my house, so my mom just signed my sister and I up for a ballet class once a week.” Eighteen-year-old dancers Carolina Anaya and Andrea Hinojosa also began in ballet. “Xalma introduced me to dance because we’ve been friends for many, many years. My mom signed me up and I took every class they took,” says Carolina. Alexis Harris, 18, began dancing when she was three years old, and was introduced to Living Arts by her grandmother at eight years old. The four dancers, now seniors moving on to college, have been students in the Out-of-School Arts program for over a decade.
“I’m more outspoken now and not afraid to express what I want,” says Carolina. “So many kids feel like they’re going to be judged for what they do or say, and I feel like through dance, I’ve gained so much confidence.”
What started as a fun activity as children has become a passion and safe space for these young artists. In the many years they’ve been with Living Arts, the young women have found a space to develop choreography, dance competitively, and perform with Living Arts’ Youth Dance Ensemble. The program serves as an environment where dancers can not only cultivate their artistry, but also be vulnerable and supportive of one another. “We became like a family, we all grew up with each other like sisters,” says Xalma.
teaching artist spotlight
Katy Schoetzow, Teaching Artist
“I started working with Living Arts in 2015. Since then, the programs have evolved so much,” states Teaching Artist Katy Schoetzow. Katy, who has worked in all of Living Arts programs, works with Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) students ages two to nine, as well as Emotionally Impaired (EI) students in first through sixth grade, implementing theater skills and storytelling. “In our original residencies these groups were mainstreamed with other classes which meant that a) class sizes were very large and b) the material was only modified to fit their needs instead of created intentionally for those needs. Now that I’m directly in the classroom it’s much more focused and these kids are at the forefront of their experiences.”
Her classroom environment is one of mutual learning. “When we establish dialogue for a scene we’re working on, my students teach me to sign as they’re learning their parts. We make choices and build our stories together which provides fantastic insight into their lives and personal experiences. It feels like a true collaboration.”
Having worked with the same students and teachers over the past two years has established a long-standing relationship, a key component to learning. “Consistency is incredibly important for children. Special programs that come in for a couple of weeks and teach something new are great, but a program that returns every year and builds off of the success of the previous year has so much more impact on the academic success and personal growth of these students.”