Susan Griss

Susan Griss
Accord, NY
Dance/Movement, Storytelling
Adult Day Care, After School Program, College/University, Arts/Cultural Organizations, Community Center, Correctional Facilities, Independent Living, K-12 Schools, Senior Center

Susan Griss is a pioneer in the field of arts-in-education. Rooted in her background as a dancer and choreographer, her successful methods of teaching academic curriculum through movement have been presented to principals, classroom teachers, teaching artists and pre-service teachers throughout the U.S., and in Slovenia and Israel. Her book, Minds in Motion: A Kinesthetic Approach to Teaching Elementary Curriculum, (Heinemann, 1998) is still widely used. Susan's pioneering spirit has now taken her to the new field of Creative Aging, where she choreographed a suite of dances called "Here to Stay" for performers aged 76 to 96 living at Woodland Pond. For the last two years, by request of the residents, Susan has continued to teach dance at Woodland Pond, combining group discussion, chair warm-ups, standing exercises, folk dances, and complex patterns and sequences to music you can't help dancing to! Ms. Griss also teaches graduate courses for early education teachers at Bank Street College of Education in NYC, and for K-12 teachers through Lesley University. For 10 years she presented workshops for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and was a key presenter at the Annual Partners in the Arts Summer Institute in Richmond, VA. In New York, Ms. Griss is the co-founder/co-director of BEYOND PAPER AND PENCIL: Bringing Literacy to Life through the Performing Arts, offering professional development and artist residencies in elementary schools. This program enables participants to use music, dance and poetry in an arts-integrated curriculum to promote student learning.

I believe that all people are born with a connection to the arts. Young children naturally dance, sing, draw and act. But many adults have lost that connection. My joy is helping people of any age, reconnect to the artist within, by providing a structure, artistic skills, and direction through dance and theater. My success comes from combining gentleness, encouragement, high expectations, and hard work. I view the opportunity to work with older adults as a way to help them find a voice through the combination of movement and words, and to bring their personal stories to life. I choreographed a suite of 4 dances performed by 76-96 year olds called "Here to Stay," about integrating into a continuing care facility. I spent the last 30 years as a teaching artist with children in the public schools, and more recently with children and their parents in Family Literacy Nights where we bring stories to life through the performing arts. As a dancer/choreographer I performed for many senior centers and nursing homes in NYC, and have had experience with many aging relatives including my parents who lived into their 90's. I feel very comfortable with the transition to working with aging adults: teaching dance classes and/or creating a dance/theater piece together to express important events in their lives. Dancing together builds community!