Sage LaCroix | March 2019
Hometown: Berkeley, California
Minor: Visual and Performing Arts Education
Q: How did you discover your interest in the arts and how did you know that it was something that you wanted to pursue professionally, as an artist or as a teaching artist?
A: I began creative movement classes at age 3 and figured out relatively quickly that dance was something I wanted to keep in my life forever. Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, I trained in many styles of dance, constantly inspired by the teachers and mentors I had along the way. As I entered college, I knew that I wanted to continue my studies in dance but that I also wanted to be that mentor for other young students. As a kid, I was fortunate enough to attend schools with great arts programs but as I was introduced to LAUSD, I realized how dire the need is for arts in public schools. It was then that I realized how much I wanted to bring the arts to students who wouldn’t otherwise get the opportunity.
Q: Describe what the student artists in your VAPAE afterschool arts or arts enrichment program are working on and the process they’re using.
A: I just finished teaching at the Classroom in Residence at the Hammer Museum. There, I taught two different groups of fifth graders and we focused on themes that were similar to those represented in the museum galleries. These themes included self-portraits, everyday objects being repurposed, and community. With both groups I used different ways of generating choreographing that were student centered. Then I facilitated putting it all together so they had a full dance by the end of the week. We also touched on dance concepts such as musicality and rhythm, shape and tableau, and appropriate audience and stage conduct.
Q: Why is an enrichment opportunity like this important for those participating? What do they gain?
A: An opportunity like this one was visibly impactful for the students. They came into the experience both eager and slightly anxious about trying something that was new for them. However by engaging with their community and with their classmates in new ways, they were able to flex the creativity parts of their brain and open up to each other and to the staff in a more vulnerable way. Throughout the week, I saw students become more comfortable with their body and taking up space in the class. They became more eager to share when I asked questions and contribute movements to the group choreography. Each student was also able to be accountable and show up for their classmates in a community sense.
Q: Did you have an opportunity like this when you were a younger artist? If yes, how did it help shape your love of art? If no, in what ways could a program like this have helped you?
A: I had lots of opportunities for the arts when I was younger that allowed me to see the connection between human emotion and art. This helped me fall in love with the arts because I saw how it was a way I could express everything I felt in a safe way. At the same time, I never experienced a program like CRH that connected visual and performing arts. I think a program like this would have given someone like me who’s more of a performer, a better sense of how I can use my creativity in the visual arts world as well.
Q: What do you personally gain as a teaching artist, arts facilitator?
A: As a teaching artist, I’m constantly inspired by the students’ willingness to go out of their comfort zones in order to express ideas and contribute to the group artmaking process. This leap of faith makes me want to take those same leaps in my own work and in life in general. I also get the opportunity to see the students collaborate in a way that is so supportive and and kind, and they remind me to bring those ideals to every group situation I’m in. By being a teaching artist, I also get the constant joy of seeing my students discover parts of themselves that they had all along but maybe didn’t know how to express.
Q: What are the benefits to you as a student/graduate in the UCLA VAPAE program? Was this program a good choice for you? If so, why?
A: The VAPAE program was one of the reasons I chose to come to UCLA. It’s unlike anything I could find at any other school and participating in it has been one of the best decisions I’ve made at UCLA. Through VAPAE I’ve had hands on teaching experience in over 5 different locations and been able to take classes from countless renowned teaching artists. This experience gives me great benefit not only because it has strengthened my leaderships skills, and knowledge of my own arts practice, but because I would feel completely prepared to go into a teaching job after graduating from UCLA. I have confidence in myself but also in the support system that VAPAE has built and knowing that they would be there to help and support me as I transition out of undergraduate study and into a career.
Q: Are there any anecdotes from your time as a VAPAE Teaching Artist at an Arts Enrichment or Afterschool Arts Programs that stand out to you? Perhaps you had a breakthrough with a student or saw some particularly noticeable growth in that student through this program, collaboration etc. Maybe something surprised you or made you think about art or teaching in a new way.
A: At the Classroom in Residence at the Hammer, I had one student who was resistant to participating throughout the entire week, despite encouragement from myself and the other staff members. He decided to be an audience member for the final performance, instead of dancing on stage with the rest of the class. I was worried that this student wasn’t getting anything out of the class and wasn’t growing in the same way as the other students. However after the performance, I asked the students to reflect on the week and he shared that he was proud of his fellow students for having the courage to perform on stage and that it looked like a lot of fun. When him and I had a one-on-one conversation later, I asked if next time he might want to participate, he said yes. Though it was small, I felt him slowly open up to the possibility of being vulnerable and stepping out of his comfort zone in the future.
Q: What are your short-term and long‐term career goals?
A: At some point in my life I would love to perform in a modern dance company because performing and traveling are two things that make me the happiest. I would also love to become a Dance/Movement Therapist or somehow incorporate social emotional aspects into being a teaching artist. I’m also very interested in student affairs and working with undergraduate arts students to help them achieve their long-term goals. A long- term goal for myself would be to increase the use of dance and movement as a form of therapy and healing among a multitude of groups.