I grew up in Hawaiʻi and went to public school my entire life. My education was lacking in many ways, especially in the arts, and it wasn’t until I was a young adult that I was exposed to the wonderful world of the Performing Arts. Through that process I learned so much about myself and the world, and couldn’t help but wonder what my life would have been like if I could have had that influence when I was younger.
In my residences, students explore rhythm and movement as a way to examine classroom curriculum. I draw on their kinesthetic intelligence to learn concepts in math, science, and language arts. My classes include full body warm ups, connection to rhythm and beat, and an in-depth focus on grade appropriate curriculum. My passion and dedication to the art form inspires students to follow me on a joyful adventure into the world of music and dance.
I continue to be amazed at how engaged children become when they are dancing and relating to music. Their minds become open and receptive, and time after time I see the most reluctant child become excited about their process. Time after time I have a classroom teacher tell me “I don’t know how you did that.” All I can say is: moving your body and gaining control of it is a thrilling experience and children can’t get enough of it.
Mardi Swatek has been working in the Maui County schools as a resident dance artist since 1988, and has been the principal dance instructor for the Maui Arts and Cultural Center CanDo! Days since its inception in 1996. She has been presenting workshops for teachers since 1998, and a mentor to classroom teachers since 2000. She completed the Kennedy Center Seminars “Artists as Educators” in 2000 and “Planning Effective Residencies for Students” in 2007, and has been involved in the Summer Institutes since their beginning.
The Artistic Teaching Partners (ATP) Roster is an adjudicated directory of Hawai‘i professional teaching artists qualified to conduct in-depth residencies in educational settings. Each artist or arts organization has a page in the directory with contact information, a short bio, and an artist statement. The State Foundation on Culture and the Arts draws from this roster for arts education programs including Art Bento at the Hawaiʻi State Art Museum and Artists in the Schools.