Strong Voices Arts Academy

April 2 – April 7, 2023

Ages 10-15

Strong Voices Arts Academy provides outstanding arts experiences for middle school and high school students in Washington State’s foster care programs. OSPI believes that their experiences in meaningful arts classes will both inspire them to find their own strengths and creativity and be an avenue through which increased literacy and academic development takes place.

For this program, Centrum collaborates with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Education’s (OSPI) and schools from around Washington State. This year’s in-person program will serve 45 students as they dive into Theater, Visual Art, Song Writing, Music, Poetry, and Dance for four days, guided by an outstanding artist faculty and the idea that the arts reveal essential insights and ways of learning that can resonate meaningfully in the lives of young people.

Strong Voices 2023 Class Descriptions and Teacher Bios

Picturing the Inner Voice with Danielle Fodor:

Drawing is something that cannot be taken away from you – it is power of self-expression, opened up with just a pen and a paper. The images we create can be joyful, silly, intense, or fearful.  These images give voice to dreams and emotions in ways that words struggle to.  In this class, there is no wrong way to draw – but we’ll explore many ways of starting to draw, playing with pen and paper, spending time beyond the reach of words, and conversing with pictures. Working with comics, doodles, self-portraits, and found drawings, we will give shape and form to our inner voices.

Danielle Fodor is a visual artist who works with the communities and individuals to create vibrant visions of today and tomorrow.  She has worked with hundreds of volunteers to paint murals and public plazas, designed giant puppets and banners, and written and illustrated indie comics and zines.  Her work transforms people and places by celebrating common ground, expressing unspoken emotions, and nourishing the connections between people, place, and the natural world. She lives in Irondale, WA.

Reclamation Music with Rebecca Elatiki:

Reclamation is a journey through the elements of songwriting, where we use music as a tool for self-reflection, play, and self-expression. The philosophy of this experience is rooted in the understanding that communicating emotion is at the heart of songwriting. We will use music as an avenue to access our full spectrum emotions, reclaim stories, share our voices, and connect with others through our shared humanity. The intention of this course is to allow students to be present with their emotions and stories, and to embody them in a way that’s authentic, playful, and artistic. Students will learn practices to explore and translate their emotions into music and develop a piece of art that reflects their internal world. Students will have the option to write directly from lived experience or to write fictionally. 

We will explore joy, love, sadness, and personal expression in effort to make space for what arises in a students’ process. The course will conclude with a reflection on what was learned, what was discovered, as well as an opportunity to be witnessed in their final song.  This course is designed for people who are new to songwriting, or who want to take their craft to a new level.

Rebecca is a Moroccan-American artist and activist, whose work lives at the intersection of art, humanitarian work, and cultural curiosity. Her professional roots in social work have provided her training in trauma-informed care, and enabled her to travel the world, working with diverse and vulnerable populations. From orphanages in India to healing circles in Latin America, she has used creative arts as a vehicle for cross-cultural connection and healing. As a former foster youth and adoptee herself, Rebecca has an ability to overcome hardships with a powerful determination to find and share life’s beauty. Her voice is a manifestation of her journey to the freedom of expression, and her passion is to create spaces for people of all ages where our voices, stories, shared humanity, and expression can be shared and liberated.

Breakdance with Bboy Bobby Drake:

Using music as an inspiration, learn the foundation of breakdancing, or “breaking.” The four fundamental components, toprock, footwork, freezes, and power moves will be demonstrated and taught. With Robert teaching some new-found knowledge and skills, students learn to create dance routines. Everyone will have the opportunity to battle against and perform with one another by exploring the arts of cyphering, battling, and performing. Perfect for those with little-to-no dance experience who are dedicated, enthusiastic, and open-hearted about learning.

Robert Eyerman, aka Bboy Bobby Drake, started breaking in 2005 at the age of 13. Three years later he co-founded the Dog Pound Crew. His group works frequently alongside the Seattle Theater Group, dancing in productions such as DANCE This, Global Party, and Sasquatch Music Festival. Robert highly values education, graduating from the University of Washington with two degrees – chemistry and biochemistry. His passions include dance, music, medicine, education, and philanthropy.

Whenever he is not conducting clinical research in the hepatology clinic at a local Seattle hospital, he provides in-home tutoring to youth, writes music, trains for competitions, and brainstorms how to further impact the world through art and science. Robert enjoys jamming on his guitar, playing with lasers, and traveling the world with his girlfriend.

Giant Puppets with Margie McDonald:

Bring Giants to life. Students will work together to create large puppets using simple materials such as cardboard, wire, fabric, sticks and tape. The Giants come to life on stage for Friday’s Student Showcase, accompanied by an invented narrative.

Margie McDonald is the artistic director for the Port Townsend Wearable Art Show now heading into its sixth year.

Margie’s work in Wearable art and sculpture has been exhibited in the New Zealand World of Wearable Art Exhibition, Bainbridge Island Art Museum, Museum of Northwest Art, Northwind Arts Center and Simon Mace Gallery.

“Your Story On Stage” with Jonathan Rizzardi:

The “Your Story On Stage” pathway at Centrum’s Strong Voices program uses theatre, movement, and performance art to amplify the unique lived experiences of young artists as they create an original devised theatre piece as an ensemble. Burgeoning Performers will work together to share novel stories (fictional, autobiographical, political/news-worthy, popular culture-based) that they feel represent them—what makes them collectively smile, laugh, think, hurt, and change. After experimenting with dramatic play and storytelling through acting, playwriting, improvisation, Playback Theatre, Theatre of the Oppressed, and other performance forms, artists will weave an original story to perform for the group that represents them, and the world they hope to build in years to come.