“When I was young, teachers were my number one ally, assisting me to become who I am today. The best teachers supported me without judgment.”
Founder of Moving Education Institute, Frenchy is a retired New York City educator with decades of service as a dance specialist, English teacher, arts administrator, and instructor for students with disabilities. He traveled the world as a member of Kathryn Posin Dance Company and Nikolais Dance Theater, facilitated the Revelations curriculum for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Foundation, and served as director of AileyCamp Boston. In addition, Frenchy choreographed Come Out, a narrative about Black/Latino silence around HIV/AIDS, with accompanying curriculum.
What lead you to be a teaching artist?
After dancing professionally, I began teaching in public schools as a way of giving back to my people and communities. I discovered children who could dance, but could not read, write, or communicate with one another. I thought back on my own development and those things that allowed me to thrive and get in touch with my natural inclination to learn and create. Meditation and yoga were the two most important things that allowed me evolve into a whole and complete human being. With this in mind I created and developed Moving wRites, a curriculum that utilizes meditation, movement, and yoga to enhance reading, writing, inter- and intra-personal skills for students in grades three through twelve.
All youth are unique due to lived experiences; they are active participants in their own education, and they have an analysis of their lives. As such, they are entitled to a stimulating educational environment that challenges them to grow physically and mentally, while at the same time developing the emotional dexterity to be with people who differ from them.
I look for ways to get to know my students, and for them to get to know each other, and go deeper, beyond names, and likes and dislikes. To that end, my students write and choreograph Identity Dances. First they write short statements about who they are, where they come from, how they see the world, and how they think the world sees them. Then they read them to their classmates who ask clarifying questions. Then they create movement sentences that are performed while reciting their statements. This is one way they get to know themselves and their peers for who they really are.