October 2020

A Personal Word

from Kara Stewart

Center Stage Spotlight: Shauna Conzaman

The show

must go on!

Dance:

It’s not just

step, turn, jump

 
Lizzy.jpeg

Dance:

It's not just step, turn, jump

Lizzie had her first ArtSparks class five years ago as a third-grader at DeWitt Elementary — she was chosen to be a TNT scholarship dancer in that program’s inaugural year.

 

And the rest, as the saying goes, is history!

 

She has been dancing with us ever since and has moved through our advanced Team XD. Today she’s part of our internship program.

 

If you have attended our shows over the years, you may remember Lizzie as one of our joyful raindrops — in our show about the Cuyahoga River — or as Planet Earth in our show We are STARS.

 

Lizzie’s love for dance and choreography grows each day … we’re beyond proud to say that she has grown into a wonderful role model for our younger dancers!

 

In Lizzie’s own words …

 

“ArtSparks is awesome. ArtSparks is a way for kids to learn in a fun and energetic way. Before I was in ArtSparks, I thought dance was just steps along with the music. But now, it’s so much more. It helped me learn new geometric shapes, the history of the river, and even how the planets travel through the solar system. I’ve learned that dance isn’t just step, turn, jump. Through my four years of dance, I’ve created a great family. You guys can look at us as acquaintances, our families can look at us as friends, but as I speak on behalf of all of us, we are family. A strong bond. Built on laughter, trust and dedication.”

 

Thank you for supporting ArtSparks. Your support fosters the understanding of dance as an art form … and gives children of all ages the chance to build a beautiful future!

Duos Show 2019 Kara.jpeg

A Personal Word from Kara Stewart

 

As we begin this unprecedented school year, I find myself both humbled and hopeful. 

Despite the significant challenges our school partners face in educating students remotely, they have welcomed ArtSparks Teaching Teams into their virtual communities and have invested their time and efforts in ensuring the successful delivery of our programming.

How fortunate we are to have their support! Time and time again, I am told about the impact the incredibly talented and devoted ArtSparks Teaching Artists are making — they’re devoted to engaging and inspiring the children we serve. 

Led by Artistic Director Erica Piper, our dedicated staff spent countless hours this summer discovering ways in which to provide excellence in Arts education via remote platforms. They are ready! 

Will teaching hundreds of children each week in this new environment be without its challenges? Probably not. But if there’s one thing I know and trust to be true, it’s this: the ArtSparks Team will face those challenges with a tenacious can-do spirit. 

I look forward to watching our students’ smiling faces as they learn that dance, music, and joy can take place anywhere — and that they are best when shared. 

We are in this together!
 

 

Center Stage Spotlight: Shauna Conzaman

As we begin this unprecedented school year, I find myself both humbled and hopeful. 

Despite the significant challenges our school partners face in educating students remotely, they have welcomed ArtSparks Teaching Teams into their virtual communities and have invested their time and efforts in ensuring the successful delivery of our programming.

How fortunate we are to have their support! Time and time again, I am told about the impact the incredibly talented and devoted ArtSparks Teaching Artists are making — they’re devoted to engaging and inspiring the children we serve. 

Led by Artistic Director Erica Piper, our dedicated staff spent countless hours this summer discovering ways in which to provide excellence in Arts education via remote platforms. They are ready! 

Will teaching hundreds of children each week in this new environment be without its challenges? Probably not. But if there’s one thing I know and trust to be true, it’s this: the ArtSparks Team will face those challenges with a tenacious can-do spirit. 

I look forward to watching our students’ smiling faces as they learn that dance, music, and joy can take place anywhere — and that they are best when shared. 

We are in this together!
 

Holiday Fest 12.8.18 (21).JPG

The show must go on!

Shauna Conzaman, our Managing Director and Lead Teaching Artist, cannot pinpoint her favorite style of dance or music …

Why? Because she loves them all!

Shauna was born in Ravenna, Ohio, and went on to receive most of her dance training at the University of Akron’s Dance Institute. She also trained at: 

  1. The Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet, 

  2. Joffrey Ballet School, 

  3. Cleveland Ballet School,

  4. And Pittsburgh Youth Ballet. 

She had the privilege of dancing professionally for several seasons with the Ohio Ballet as well as with the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble in Michigan — she toured all over the U.S. with both companies. 

Shauna has been teaching dance in all genres since 1996 and spent six years as the Assistant Director of Kensington School of the Arts in Michigan. 

She joined ArtSparks at its inception and, besides her passion for her faith and family, our mission for children is a driving force in her life. 

Shauna has recently taken on additional responsibilities in building relationships with friends and supporters of ArtSparks to help make them aware of new opportunities to be involved financially, as partners!

In fact, the Arts “add joy and life to my days,” Shauna tells us. Her heart is to see students grow and learn and transform on every level.

And just for fun, a few of her favorite things include:

  • The Bible

  • The movie It’s a Wonderful Life

  • Eating at Casa Del Mar

  • Watching her kids play basketball

  • Bike rides with her family

  • Chocolate mousse for dessert

  • Vacationing at the beach

Her all-time favorite performance of her career? “Performing ‘Cakewalk’ at The Joyce Theatre in NYC with The Ohio Ballet!”

We hope you get the chance to meet Shauna soon. She’s a treasure on the ArtSparks team!
 

 

“How can we still educate, empower, and care for our youngest citizens from a distance?”

 

This is the question of the year here at ArtSparks.

Our current reality calls for an enormous amount of creativity to solve such a challenge … it’s where all those lessons of tenacity and creativity instilled in us from a young age come in handy.

And yes, we first learned such lessons in the dance classroom! 

As artists, we have gotten creative about how to teach our ArtSparks classes this year! 

  1. All four of our major programs have started off strong through Zoom and GoogleMeet classes … 

  2. Our stellar staff members have spent hours playing with technology, rethinking choreography (or as we are sometimes calling it, “Zoom-ography”) … 

  3. And we’re finding ways to ensure every child feels seen and loved in this virtual universe.

  4. While nothing will ever replace the value of human connection in a dance classroom, virtual teaching has connected us in new ways. 

Children in our in-school program now have opportunities to meet and connect with peers from other schools who are participating in the same ArtSparks program. This gives every child the understanding that being a part of ArtSparks is being part of a greater community of children all across Akron and Cuyahoga Falls!

Our TNT/XD Scholarship students have strengthened their performer skill of “keep performing even if something goes wrong.” 

The idea is to keep dancing on stage even if the music stops or somebody loses a costume piece …

But we can now extend these lessons to “keep performing even if your dog runs into you” — or “keep dancing even if you see a giant wolf spider crawling across your computer screen.” 

It’s been an adventure! But a worthy one.

No matter what life throws at us, we persevere and just keep dancing with everything we’ve got. And ArtSparks is grateful you’re on this ever-changing journey with us!
 

Support ArtSparks today!

You can play a key role in fostering creativity and self-confidence as children experience the Arts in new and profound ways.

 

You’ll encourage children to develop a belief in themselves that impacts all aspects of their lives.

 

Your generosity provides access to high-quality dance programming along with the ArtSparks commitment to fostering the understanding of dance as an art form while challenging students of all ages and abilities to discover new heights of individual excellence.

 

Thank you!