Friday Arts at Gardner Pilot Academy

June 20, 2014 - Scenes from the Friday Arts Showcase at the Gardner Pilot Academy in Allston, MA.

This unique, standards-driven, student-focused arts learning program provides year-long, weekly direct arts instruction in dance, music, theater and storytelling to the entire student body of Gardner Pilot Academy (GPA), a Title I K-8 Boston Public School in Allston.

IMG_7378 duoProgressive, hands-on, fully-inclusive workshops build toward final projects, which are performed at student showcase assemblies for the entire GPA community. Students build artistic skills, develop critical learning skills from collaboration to time-management, uncover their talents, and gain the confidence that comes with performance.


“Young Audiences has had an incredible impact on our students over the past seven years. At GPA, over 85% of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch – many of our students lack opportunities that their wealthier peers in the suburbs are provided. Through our partnership with Young Audiences we are able to close this opportunity gap with exposure to a variety of high-quality and engaging arts instruction for all GPA students.”

“Overall, the aspect of our partnership that we are must appreciate of is the collaborative and hard working spirit of the team at Young Audiences. We work hard to ensure that our Friday Arts program is reflective of our mission and vision and it is a huge support to have Young Audiences as a partner in this work.”
-Erica Hermann, Principal, Gardner Pilot Academy


Brandon Allen – Vocal Ensemble
A singer, songwriter, recording artist, D.J. and teaching artist, Brandon earned his M.A. from Berklee College of Music in 2011. Brandon teaches vocal performance at the awarding-winning urban community music program, ZUMIX, and hosts the R&B/Hip Hop show, “The Time Turner” on the Berklee Internet Radio Network.

Rachel Buffer of Mass Movement, Inc – Hip Hop Dance
An award-winning choreographer, dancer and teaching artist, Rachel has taught hip hop and other dance forms on many levels from Boston University to elementary schools, to community dance schools, to summer camps. She is a member of Tribe Dance Company and Embrace Professional Dance Company.

Christin Collins of Mass Movement, Inc – Introduction to Dance
Christin holds a BS in Elementary Education and a minor in Dance from Boston University. She trained at the Lexington School of Ballet, Summer Stages Dance, Boston University, and Dana Hall. She is a company member of Rainbow Tribe’s Embrace Dance Company, Linx, and Tribe the Dance Company. Christin is currently on the dance faculty at BU, MIT, the Lexington School of Ballet, Dancers Workshop, the American Chinese Art Society, and the Boston Public Schools. Additionally, Christin is a choreographer and off-ice dance instructor at the Colonial Figure Skating Club.

Nicolette Heavey – Storytelling
A professional storyteller and storytelling teaching artist, Nicolette is a member of the National Storytelling Network (NSN) and League of Advancement of New England Storytellers (LANES). She is the co-founder of “Stories in the Streets” a non-profit organization which brings professional storytelling in public places to students, young adults and caregivers in Lawrence and Brockton. In 2010 she won 3rd place in MassMouth’s annual “Big MouthOff” storytelling competition.

Henry Kasdon of Mass Movement, Inc – Hip Hop Dance
Henry “kidspin” Kasdon loves to dance. Combining his athletic experience and love for music, he started out his dance career as a freshman at Tufts University in 1998 as a bboy. He quickly spread into all styles of hip hop, and throughout his college career he expanded into jazz, modern, and various cultural dances. After graduating in 2002, Henry joined Rainbow Tribe and began teaching hip hop at Boston University and Harvard University. In the following years he expanded to various elementary schools, high schools and dance studios. He was featured in the only Boston episode of MTV’s My Super Sweet 16, and has choreographed multiple routines for Boston Ballet. In 2008 Henry co-founded Bside and has been director ever since. He teaches master classes all over New England as well as his ongoing classes above. As a DJ, drummer, entrepreneur, coach, husband and father, he has a very full life – but there is always time to dance.

Julio Santos – Latin Percussion
A Berklee educated Brazilian percussionist has worked professionally as a musician since we was 14 years old. He has performed in the Pacific Symphony and collaborated with Brazilian artists such as Dudu Nobre and Leandro Lehart. Julio had a formative experience in a social program in Sao Paulo called “Meninos do Morumbi” where he met artists such as Gilberto Gil, Toquinho, Sandra de Sa, Falamansa, Maná from Mexico and made presentations on the importance of music to world leaders such as George. W Bush, Collin Powell and Tony Blair. The program worked to bring greater social inclusion to more than 5,000 impoverished youth.

Andrea Lovett – Storytelling
Trained by renowned storyteller Jay O’Callahan, Andrea Lovett has been performing and teaching storytelling professionally since 1992. She is the co-founder of the MassMouth storytelling network, the founder of South Shore Story Slams and a board member of Stories in the Street. Andrea has won The Brother Blue Award from the League of Advancement of New England Storytellers (LANES) and the Oracle Award from National Storytelling Network (NSN). Lovett has been featured several times in the Boston Globe Magazine and recently in the South Shore Living Magazine. She has two CDs to her credits: Folktales From The Forest and Tales From The Table.

Stephanie Munoz – Music for Grade K
Friday Arts Showcase at the Gardner Pilot AcademyStephanie is a professional saxophonist performing in both jazz and classical styles with ensembles such as the Landmarks Orchestra and Cresendo. She is a seasoned music teaching artist. In her hometown of El Paso, Texas, she taught music to 400 Pre-K through 5th graders in a bi-lingual school. In Boston, she has taught at The Margarita Muñiz Academy in Jamaica Plain, a bilingual high school with an El Sistema inspired music and arts program. She now teaches at the Boston School of Music Arts in Dorchester, as well as teaching private students in her own studio. Stephanie earned a Masters Degree from the New England Conservatory of Music and is a member of the North American Saxophone Alliance.

Corey O’Rourke – Improv and Scene Study
Corey began doing Improv in 2006 and since then has worked with many companies and performers. He has performed and worked with Improv Asylum, Catalyst Comedy, Urban Improv, and ImprovBoston. Corey found a home at ImprovBoston in the fall of 2013. Joining the ImprovBoston National Touring Company, and was an original cast member of All Access Improv. In that time, Corey has worked hard to grow the brand and to expand the work that the company does. He works often with the community’s youth, in schools and after school, through youth troupes and anti-bullying initiatives.

Caitlyn Schrader of Mass Movement, Inc – Yoga Movement as Dance
A professional dancer, choreographer and teaching artist, Caitlyn currently dances with EgoArt in Somerville and teaches for the National Dance Education organization’s Dance In Schools program. She has been a Franco-American Teachers-in-Training Fulbright Participant, and a Green Works Choreographics Residency Recipient and is member of the International Dance Council (CID).

Allison Stamiris – West African-style Drumming
Allison has been studying percussion for the past 20 years and is currently performing and teaching in the Boston area with Moussa Traore, Joh Camara and Sory Diabate from Mali and with Nani Agbeli from Ghana. Allison is devoted to learning the tribal rhythms of West Africa from the master drummers who reside in our local community. She has traveled to Mali, Ghana and Guinea on several occasions to enrich her knowledge of the West African culture and rhythms. She teaches for the Cambridge Performance Project and Brown University’s annual Rhythms of Change Festival and performs with Benkadi Drum and Dance Ensemble and Agbekor Drum and Dance Society.

Andy Tayor-Blenis of Mass Movement, Inc – International Folk Dance
A professional dancer, choreographer, dance professor and teaching artist, Andy has taught International Dance through the Folk Arts Center of New England, Modern and Jazz Dance at Northwestern and Northeastern Universities, Harvard, Emerson, Boston University, Boston Conservatory and the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio. She is the artistic director of Mladost Dance Ensemble and the RSCDS Demonstration Team and loves teaching school residencies through Mass Movement and Revels, Inc. She has danced with Danny Sloane Dance, Paradigm Dance, Concert Dance Company, Dance Collective and ACE Entertainment, and has been with Prometheus Dance Company for 19 years. Andy earned her BFA in Dance from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Ronnie Terrell of Mass Movement, Inc – Ballet
The founder, artistic director and choreographer of Mustique Illusions Dance Theatre, and an accomplished dance instructor, Ronnie started as a promising student at the Boston Arts Academy under the watchful eyes of ballet teacher Mr. Cosmin Marculetiu. He was offered scholarships to The Boston Conservatory, The Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet. At the age of 16, Ronnie was featured in The American Ballet Theater production of Giselle, shortly after Mr. Thomas had the amazing opportunity to share the stage with Mikhail Baryshnikov and his company White Oak Dance Project in the featured piece Past Forward. By age 18, he had performed with such companies as Jose Mateo Ballet Theater, The Hybrid Movement Company, Quixotic Fusion Performance Ensemble, and Anna Myer & Dancers. After 5 years of working in the United States, Mr. Thomas was invited to work in Europe with Teatrul De Balet Sibiu, Romania. In 2015 at age 29 Ronnie returned to the United States as a choreographer, freelance dancer, and guest teacher. His interest in expressing his own point of view has led him to formulate a movement vocabulary that fuses Classical technique and adapts Voguing, House dance, and Body2Body acrobatic balancing, transforming shape and movement that’s familiar to the naked eye.


June 20, 2014 - Scenes from the Friday Arts Showcase at the Gardner Pilot Academy in Allston, MA.For more information, including how to bring a program like Friday Arts to your school,please contact Gail Zarren, Director, Expanded Arts Access & Healing Arts for Kids at 617-629-9262 x 304 or

All Expanded Arts Access & Healing Arts for Kids programs are supported through the generosity of foundations and individual donors. Help us bring arts access to Gardner students. DONATE.

This program is supported in part by grant from the Boston Cultural Council, a local agency which is funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, administrated by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture

Special thanks to all of our  sponsors:
Boston Cultural Council
Edvestors Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion Fund
Ramsey McCluskey Family Foundation