ABOVE: Congressman Al Green (center) delivers a congressional recognition for Nia’s Daughters, alongside founder Stacey Allen (left). Photo courtesy of Stacey Allen.
Texas State Board of Education member Staci Childs will speak to students in the Dancing Beyond Aesthetics arts education program at Houston ISD’s On-Time Grad Academy on Feb. 9.
The On-Time Grad Academy (a partnership between Houston Independent School District and the City of Houston) is a program that allows freshman high school students in danger of falling behind in classes the opportunity to earn graduation credits. The Academy (with class time between 9:30 AM and 4 PM) serves multiple locations, including Mickey Leland Preparatory Academy and Jones Futures Academy (formerly Jesse H. Jones High School).
The “Dancing Beyond Aesthetics” residency introduces students to Dance for Social Justice. Students in the On-Time Grad Program (serviced at Jones) will be guided through this residency as an introduction to not only dance, but creative arts and social practice at large. The goals are “to improve positive mindset, self-image and student engagement and attendance.” The residency was created by Nia’s Daughters Movement Collective, a grassroots arts organization aiming to create and support art and wellness initiatives through the lens of Black women and girls. Dancer, instructor and performance artist Stacey Allen founded the collective in 2018 to perform culturally competent dance works while telling Black women’s stories.
“I was inspired to form Nia’s Daughters Movement Collective from a combination of life experiences, mainly motherhood, my experience teaching in public schools, and of course my experience in Black expressive culture, dancing and things like that,” Allen shared. “But once I started having my own children, I realized I needed a structure that allowed for mothers to bring their babies into the practice. But I also wanted to create work that spoke to Black women and mothers. That’s kind of where our stories derive from,” she said.
Staci Childs, a graduate of Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law, also has an education background. A former fourth and fifth-grade teacher, she was elected to the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) in Nov. 2022. She now represents District 4, which includes central, northeast and southeast Houston, as well as parts of Galveston. The SBOE sets curriculum standards, reviews/adopts instructional material, and establishes graduation requirements. Now, Childs will address students who hope to attain those requirements through dance and via arts education – a mission that Allen takes seriously.
“I am honored that I am able to lead this very necessary work of connecting students’ creativity with advocacy and agency,” said Stacey Allen, founder and artistic director of Nia’s Daughters Movement Collective. “Dancing beyond Aesthetics is truly a way for students to begin to feel what embodiment can feel like, but also to learn their power on that journey.”