Teaching Roster

Laurel Shastri

Contact Name: Laurel Shastri

Email: Click to email

Phone: (423) 598-6637

Artistic Disciplines:

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Populations/Areas of Interest:
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Virtual Programming:

A lifelong love of learning, science, and dance coalesced when Laurel Shastri (MS in Geology) became a teaching artist twenty-five years ago. Her creative mission to integrate dance authentically yielded a number of unique units, including ‘The Scientific Dancer’, ‘Meaningful Movement’, and ‘DANCE as ACTIVism.’ Her work is featured in the college text ‘Creating Meaning Through Literature and the Arts,’ by Claudia Cornett. She inspired thousands of students through programs of Arts Council Santa Cruz County, Montalvo Arts Center, ArtsBuild, and Tennessee Art Commission. She has led interactive, well-received workshops for educators in Tennessee, Florida, and California.

Laurel’s ongoing creative inquiry yields a number of dance-integrated units and lessons. Dance integration is a unique learning experience in which students learn skills and elements of dance along with core curriculum in organized and meaningful ways. Lessons are standards based, develop knowledge in multiple disciplines, and foster opportunities for student discovery and creativity. Through dance-integrated lessons, students:
• Practice skills and apply concepts in a safe, positive environment,
• Tap into their own creative process, and
• Deepen and demonstrate learning by embodying concepts in structured movement activities and through collaborative conversations / reflection.

Artist Work Samples

Sample Programs Offered

Program Title: The Scientific Dancer

Program Type: Arts Integration

Program Description:

In ‘The Scientific Dancer’ series of units and lessons, students explore similarities between scientists & dancers and relationships between dance and science concepts.
• A Movement Experiment—Students explore scientific practices, experiment to solve movement problems and determine unknown dance vocabulary, and present their findings in a movement phrase.
• Force and Motion—Students examine the forces that act upon (their own) dancer’s body.
• Speed and Velocity—Why is it important for dancers to define both speed and direction (velocity)?
• SPACE Out!—Students explore ‘space’ as scientists and as dancers, learn how dancers orient themselves onstage with a coordinate grid, & use movement of the sun and shadows as inspiration to create dance.
• Energy—Students embody aspects of potential and kinetic energy and explore how dancers use energy in creating and expressing ideas through movement.

Dance Rocks! As a former geologist, Laurel is thrilled to connect two of her passions (Earth Science and Dance) in this series.
• Rock Cycle—Students observe and describe rock samples, translate their descriptions into movement, and learn about Earth processes that create the rock cycle.
• Volcanoes and Dance— Students act as scientists and dancers as they examine volcanic landforms and eruptive styles through the elements of dance. As their understanding of dance and volcanoes grows, students perform a short piece of choreography with intent and meaning.
• Weathering and Erosion—Students explore flow, movement, shape and other elements of dance in connection with processes of erosion to create movement phrases demonstrating these processes.
• Plate Tectonics—Improvisation brings plate tectonics concepts to the human scale. Students explore movement of plate boundaries resulting in mountains, valleys, earthquakes, erosion, and more.

Other STEM to STEAM Explorations
• Engineering a Dance—Students practice improvisational dance games as a form of brainstorming and use the engineering design process to create choreography based on an engineering theme.
• Exploring Body Systems— Students kinesthetically explore the skeletal, muscular, nervous, respiratory, and circulatory systems and examine the importance of body knowledge in dance.
• Geometry and Dance—Students embody spatial concepts of geometry using dance.

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

Program Title: Meaningful Movement (Available Virtually)

Program Type: Arts Integration

Program Description:

Meaningful Movement units explore Dance as a form of literacy/text/communication/expression. Items with an asterisk (*) are available virtually.
• Dance Speaks*—Students learn about African-American and minority dancers through literature and media, explore different dance forms and create movement to express an idea about themselves.
• Dance — Write!— Developed through Artist-Teacher Partnership with Cynthia Clancy, this unit connects creative movement to writing skills (letter formation, word formation, narrative, and story-telling).
• Greetings Through Movement—Explores literacy connections between reading, writing, & dance by creating movement greeting cards to express thoughts & feelings.
• Moving Morals— Using elements of dance, students create dance phrases that communicate the same meaning as the morals of selected fables.
• Poetic Dances—Students explore the relationships between the elements of poetry and dance. Topics include rhythm, structure, descriptive or figurative language, and self-expression through words and movement. Students create and perform dance phrases inspired by their own or others’ poetry.
• Dance Upon A Time*—Uses creative movement to introduce literacy concepts in children’s stories. Students embody different characters, express vocabulary, and perform parts of the story while developing knowledge of dance elements, spatial awareness and sequencing. Choose a story below, or suggest one to be developed in your class:
– ‘Little Cloud’ by Eric Carle,
– ‘From Head to Toe’ by Eric Carle
– ‘One’ by Kathryn Otoshi
– ‘Follow the Line Around the World’ by Laura Ljungkvist;
– ‘Ballet of the Elephants’ by Leda Schubert
– ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’
– ‘Princess and the Pea’

Socially Relevant Topics: Participants explore social topics and the dancer as a communicator in society.
• Art (DANCE) as ACTivism—This unit empowers participants to communicate through dance and to create and perform a meaningful message of change for their community.
• Breaking down Barriers—As a universal language, dance brings diverse groups together to address topics such as bullying, disability, or English as a second language. (Also, see ‘Dance Speaks’ above.)
• Environmentally Dancing—Create and perform a story-ballet based on Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, or real-life environmental issues, as part of an awareness campaign.
• Learning Styles*—Students explore brain development and different learning styles through the lens of learning dance.

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

Program Title: Professional Development Workshops for Educators

Program Type: Arts Integration

Program Description:

Professional development workshops for educators are typically one to three hours long and focus on ways of integrating dance with school curriculum. Workshops are participatory, meaning teachers will be immersed in hands-on, dance-integrated activities. Examples of workshops include:

• Let’s Dance the Curriculum: Sparking Students through Movement and Learning
• The Scientific Dancer: Investigating, Experimenting, and Embodying Science through Dance
• Meaningful Movement: Connecting Dance with Reading, Writing, and Learning
• Giant Steps Toward Reading: Exploring Fairy Tales Through Movement
• Brain-body connections of dance and its impact on early childhood development
• Dance-Integrated Lesson Plan Demonstrations

Detailed descriptions of these workshops are included in the sample lesson plan/curriculum outline. Other topics are available or may be developed upon request.

Lesson Plan Example: Download File

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