Wow. It was spectacular!

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Featuring an original script and Broadway composed music, The Maya Musical has been a life-changing experience for the 100 low-income students involved. Maya, a partnership between ASTEP and Teach for India, tells the story of Princess Maya’s journey. Tasked to bring light back into her Kingdom, Maya and her friends use the values of courage, compassion and wisdom to lift 3 curses that have been cast on the world.

Like Maya, these children have discovered their brightest light. Thanks to an extensive team of dedicated ASTEP Volunteer Artists, Teach for India staff and scores of supporters, the show opened this month to thunderous applause.

“Maya gives me the power to live my life.
Maya is an inspiration that helps me to help others.
Maya is a song that encourages me to sing out my own voice.”
– Priyanka, 14 years old


The list of individuals who helped make this possible is inspiring!

From the ASTEP Team:

Allison Gibbons, Andrea DeLonis, Anna Jacobs, Asavari Thatte, August Eriksmoen, Ben Campbell, Callie Tepper, Charlie Sohne, Christopher Behmke, Cicily Daniels, Coty Cockrell, Danielle Mooney, David Goldsmith, Elle Sullivan, Enrico De Trizio, Francesca Betancourt, Garen McRoberts, George Abud, Georgia Stitt, James Sasser, Jane Pfitsch, Jay Mack, Jeremy King, Julianne Merrill, Kelcie Miles, Kendal Sparks, Lotte Crayton, Lynne Shankel, Maggie McNeill, Martyn Axe, Michael Sample, Michael Shawn Lewis, Natalie Silverlieb, Nick Dalton, Nieva Acoba, Paul Loesel, Rona Siddiqui, Russ Kaplan, Sam Davis, Sara Wordsworth, Shannon O’Bryan, Taylor Williams, Tim Rosser, Tony Fuemmeler, Trent Jeffords, Tricia Berry, and Wendy Wheeler

We will be forever grateful!

The Maya Project | Teach for India


Just one year ago, ASTEP and TFI joined forces to write and produce Maya The Musical, a project performed by low-income students from Pune, India. Teams of Volunteer Artists have spent countless hours composing music, choreographing the scenes, and rehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing! The show is scheduled to open in November 2014 and then tour around the country, directly impacting all Teach For India’s 32,000 children, through the Maya Book, Curriculum ideas, Film and the 100 Artists Program!

Stay tuned for more updates as the countdown begins for opening night!

One special art project, led by ASTEP Volunteer Artist Asavari Thatte, selected 5 kids involved in Maya and had them analyze the concept of “story” or “narrative,” and contextualize it against the backdrop of their lived experiences or the narrative of Maya. The second part of the project was illustrating the stories they had written. Below are their final pieces:

Thank you to all of the Volunteer Artists who have helped make this new program such a success! Elle Sullivan, Garen McRoberts, Asavari Thatte, Wendy Wheeler, Allison Gibbons, Francesca Betancourt, Kelcie Miles, Andrea DeLonis, Danielle Mooney, Lotte Crayton and ASTEP Program Facilitator Nick Dalton

Project Philippines 2014

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In 2008, a group of six dancers from The Juilliard School journeyed to the Philippines for four weeks, performing, teaching in schools, and creating new pieces with students in several different communities. Project Philippines returned in 2012, adding music and visual arts to the programming and in 2014, began a collaboration with ASTEP. A team of 8 Volunteer Artists are currently on the ground for five weeks and will serve communities on two separate islands and teach at four different schools: Catarman National High School, Philippine High School for the Arts, Cultural Center of the Philippines Dance School, and University of the Philippines Los Baños.

Through contemporary dance and improvisation, students engage in workshops to express themselves through movement.

“Dance has enabled me to be disciplined and focused today … I can communicate better with others and am a better person because of dance.” – Student, Project Philippines 2012

Through a variety of music workshops, students concentrate on different techniques and individual training through private lessons, master classes, a cross cultural-exchange, and performance technique.

Visual arts focus on journals and a large community project specific to each site. Everyday the students are asked to reflect and draw about their day. Visual arts incorporates self portraits, line contour drawing, painting and set design. Understanding that some students communicate best through the visual art form, these projects allow students to become more confident in their individual talents and connect to their peers through a collaborative art project.

“You could see it in their faces, writing, and drawing, that this freedom of expression was bringing a flow and light into their lives. Whether they were a part of a family or community or group of friends, they were coming closer together with smiles and laughter and encouragement.”
-Tighe Kellner, Volunteer Artist | Project Philippines 2012

Drama is incorporated in every art class through theater games and exercises. By focusing on performance, improvisation, and vocal training, drama supports each student on their journey to the stage. The training also uplifts each student in their self confidence, individual voice and community building skills off the stage.

Thank you to the 2014 Volunteer Artist Team! Chelsea Ainsworth, Kyle Netzeband, Tyner Dumortier, Allison Gibbons, Blake Wales, Brian Gnojek, Midori Samson, and Francesca Betancourt — you help make it happen!

ASTEP’s Arts Camp in India!

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A team of ASTEP Volunteer Artists recently spent three weeks in India to deliver a multi-week arts camp for the children of Shanti Bhavan! They are Francesca Betancourt, Lotte Crayton, Andrea DeLonis, Jonny Duennebier, Allison Gibbons, JJ Krehbiel, Kelcie Miles, and Danielle Mooney, led by ASTEP’s Director of Programs Abby Gerdts.

The volunteers created a series of arts-specific events, including the Color Cup, and led art classes that focused on dance, visual arts, even film. Check out the special short film that was written, directed, filmed, and edited by the students — they also got to indulge in a favorite past time…consuming candy!