About the Artists
Black Box Dance Theatre
Curriculum Connection: mathematics, science, social studies, physical education
Black Box Dance Theatre has performed for thousands of people across North Carolina and is a favorite of both students and educators. Known for their non-fiction accounts of the world and their ability to connect to science and math curricula, the troupe has expertise in making dances that are relevant and inspirational to audiences of all ages. Their mission is to serve as a catalyst for meaningful human interactions, powerful storytelling, and transformative art making. Spanish-language options are available. Residencies can include a professional development workshop for educators designed to support the goals of the residency.
John Brown Band
Curriculum Connection: social studies, music
John Brown is a nationally renowned musician, experienced educator, student and supporter of jazz music, as well as Duke University’s Vice Provost for the Arts. Brown is currently the leader of seven jazz ensembles and the founding Director of the Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble. He and his musicians are committed to jazz education – for all people, at all levels. Each of Brown’s musicians has experience working with students in small and large group settings.
Curriculum Connection: social studies, mathematics, music
The beat of an African drum is not something that every child is familiar with, but for West African musician and composer, Diali Cissokho (pronounced “Jelly”), the beat was an integral part of everyday life. “Before we had a phone, radio, or a TV in our village, we used the beat of the drum to let people know what was going on,” he often explains to students at his residencies. Cissokho was born into a long line of West African griots, who have been passing down history through song for seven centuries. His residencies incorporate singing, drumming, playing of the kora, storytelling – and are at once powerfully engaging for students and teachers. Workshops focus on rhythm and beat through the drum, with the more important outcome of learning how to become a strong team to create music together.
Curriculum Connection: language arts, social studies
Howard Craft is playwright, poet, and essayist, whose work primarily focuses on the African-American working class — their hopes, dreams, struggles, and aspirations — as influenced by current events and American history. Craft works as a creative writing instructor with Mike Wiley Productions and is the current Piller Professor of the Practice at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill for the Writing for the Stage and Screen program. Craft instantly forms connections with students as they identify rhythms of Hip-Hop in his writing structure and learn about his creation of the first African-American superhero radio serial: Jade City Pharaoh. As an artist, he is constantly asking questions about the world we live in. He believes that if one digs deep enough into a particular perspective or way of being, we can discern what is universal in human nature.
Curriculum Connection: TBD by artist and educator collaboration
EbzB Productions celebrates the profound impact of storytelling through theatre in a repertoire of simple and compelling productions. EbzB offers arts-in-education performances, residencies, and workshops for students, as well as professional development for educators. The powerful element in an EbzB residency is the contribution made by teachers and staff: the company allows educators to shape the goals and design of the integrated arts experience so that students’ specific needs are addressed, from a boost in science learning to dealing with abuse and bullying. Residencies usually take the form of collecting oral histories on a topic, transcriptions, arranging a script, and helping students discover theatre as a tool for communication. Workshops emphasize the effective use of acting tools: research, imagination, sense memory, synthesis, breath, body, eyes, face, and voice. This year, EbzB also has short-form residencies available, without the script creation component, as well as trauma-informed arts instruction.
Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana
Curriculum Connection: social studies, English language arts, Spanish
Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana has been providing holistic, life-changing educational experiences to students of all ages and abilities – forging hands-on relationships with Hispanic culture, unlocking creativity, and inspiring diverse populations. Originally created by marginalized people, flamenco’s history explores themes of immigrant life, oppression, pride, and injustice. The art form comprises music, dance, and song – presenting multiple entry points for young learners – while offering opportunities to improve literacy and communication, deepen cultural awareness, and give students a voice (and the confidence) to articulate a full range of emotions. Their programs have been widely recognized by arts education leaders, including the Center for Arts Education, Arts for All Abilities Consortium, and the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable.
Curriculum Connection: social studies, language arts
Tarish Pipkins (aka Jeghetto) of Chapel Hill, is a self-taught puppeteer, painter, muralist, writer, and emcee – that is, he makes puppets, writes a play, designs and builds the sets, and performs his puppet plays start to finish. He chose the stage name “Jeghetto,” a portmanteau of Pinocchio’s Geppetto and ghetto, to reflect his childhood in the projects of Pittsburgh, and its influence on his artistic vision. A recipient of the 2018 Jim Henson Foundation grant, Pipkins has performed his creations across the Triangle, including the National Folk Festival, and his puppets have been featured in a Missy Elliot video, an Alexa Super Bowl ad, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. But even as Pipkins’ genius gains rightful recognition on the national landscape, his most important work is still passing it along to children, while educating them on lesser known aspects of American history. Residencies and workshops have included puppet performances with discussion and corresponding lessons, as well as puppet-making from recycled materials.
The Magic of African Rhythm
Curriculum Connection: social studies, and subjects determined by artist and educator collaboration
The Magic of African Rhythm (TMOAR) is a pillar in the bridge that connects us to our African heritage across the ocean. The African concept of Ngoma, the “rhythmic thread” that links drumming, singing, dancing, and visual arts together is the Shabu family tradition. A truly “magical” ingredient has evolved over the years: participants, students, and teachers become a part of that family rhythm. By combining the song, dance, drum, drama, and visual art, TMOAR aims to create a positive transformation in people’s lives.
Curriculum Connection: language arts
As a poet, author, and teaching artist, Phillip Shabazz has built an outstanding, extensive, and respected career. His work, which explores issues of community and culture in America, has been acclaimed by the media, critics, and audiences across North Carolina. Shabazz’s writing expresses diverse points of view, from poems about family and friends challenged by the complexities of life, to narratives that celebrate human possibilities. Educators have called him, “one of the most inspiring individuals in the arts.” In an effort to get students excited about creative writing, Shabazz encourages them to be empowered by their own words and expression. He conducts creative writing workshops across his home state of North Carolina, and has taught at more than 400 schools, conferences, and community centers. His residencies focus on creative writing and/or poetry/prose.
Curriculum Connection: music, language arts, and subjects determined by artist and educator collaboration
Cellist. Singer-Songwriter. Arts Advocate. Teaching Artist. Collaborator. Cultural Conduit. In each role, Shana Tucker is a builder-of-connections, whether she’s associating STEM concepts with backbeats for students or engaging a packed house through candid song-storytelling in performance. Tucker’s unique genre of ChamberSoul™ weaves jazz, roots, folk, acoustic pop, and a touch of R&B into melodies that echo in your head for days. Her teaching goal is to give practical tools for students to use that will help them express themselves through music by creating an inspiring and empowering experience.
Curriculum Connection: social studies, language arts
Dynamic actor and playwright, Mike Wiley is a driving force in the development and promotion of documentary theatre. His company’s plays span the historic worlds of Emmett Till, Henry “Box” Brown, Jackie Robinson, and more. Each work in the company’s repertoire is designed to inspire audiences to examine America’s racial history, teach the lessons of the past, and encourage the application of these truths to the present. Wiley’s residencies come to life with an explosion when he performs for students. To say students are captivated would be an understatement. While Wiley is performing and teaching history, he is also a role model, building confidence in his students and inspiring them to follow their own dreams.