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Ally Tufenkjian, Theatre Artist
After much coaxing from her mom, Ally reluctantly agreed to attend a 3-week summer theater camp at her local community theater. Not surprisingly, she had the time of her life and has been hooked on the arts ever since. From age 8-16, she followed a traditional performance path, performing in plays and musicals and taking singing and dance lessons. However, when she came to New York City to become a professional actor, her goals changed. The shift began at Eugene Lang College, the New School for Liberal Arts. As she took courses that excavated weighty topics such as privilege and systemic oppression, she began to feel that Broadway would not be the best outlet for social service. She pursued more experimental, off-Broadway theater projects, including an original musical From the Fire about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire and several pieces with Infinite Variety Productions, a theater company honoring historical women’s stories. At Eugene Lang, she also recognized the power of education and advocacy. She became a Peer Health Advocate for the university and began working for a fitness and nutrition program called Healthclass2.0 geared toward low-income public school students. She somewhat accidentally found herself teaching an after-school musical theater class and without realizing it, was on her way to becoming a Teaching Artist. She saw how much potential the arts had to educate, empower, and enliven kids and sought out more teaching opportunities. This led her to the Community-Word Project’s TATIP program to pursue further professional development. Ally has been a Teaching Artist at arts education programs such as the Young Players Theater and the CUNY Creative Arts Team, where she currently teaches two after-school arts residencies. She is also a Trainer at Global Kids, a youth leadership and social justice organization. Through a combined exploration of the arts, education, and social justice, she hopes to unlock students’ creative potentials, cultivate global awareness, and inspire responsible citizenship.
Ally has been interning at a first grade special needs inclusion class at PS 279 in the Bronx with CWP Teaching Artists Scott Lilly and Bianca Garcia. She also assisted at a Wingspan Arts elementary after-school program at the Harlem Village Academy for several weeks.
"One of my proudest moments in the TATIP program was having a successful session with a very difficult group of first graders in an after-school class. The Teaching Artist was having trouble disciplining the students so we revamped our approach. We came up with the idea of having the students create superhero personas and to get them interested, created our own superheroes. Our fearless Teaching Artist leader entered the class as ‘Captain Crazy Socks’. Her intern sidekicks, ‘The Wanderer’ and myself, ‘Sally Sweet,’ followed closely behind. I chose to adopt a terrible Julie Andrews-esque accent in order to complete my superhero persona. The kids were wildly amused."
"The difference from the previous week’s class was astounding. The students took turns sharing their superheroes and superpowers. They listened attentively when it was another's turn to speak. The crowning moment of class was when a little boy that had said, “I hate after-school,” earlier in the residency asked us, “Can we do this tomorrow?""
Check out Ally's blogs about After School, Working with Special Needs, Executing a Lesson, Commanding a Lesson, Raising the Bar: Professionals Supporting Professionals and her Final Thoughts about TATIP.
Find out more about Ally here:
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See more of our 2014-15 Graduates in the 2015 TATIP Anthology!