Shea's Performing Arts Center offers short-term and long-term artist residencies of the highest quality. Our affiliated teaching artists come from a variety of backgrounds and possess a broad range of skills. Please contact Thembi Duncan at email@example.com or 716-829-1169 to design a residency for your organization, school, or community group.
My goal in creating art is to write characters who are relatable because of their significance as members of the human family. Then I like to work with actors to see that come to life through performance in front of a live audience. I’ve written full-length plays, but I am particularly drawn to the dramatic monologue that allows characters to speak directly to an audience as if they are their closest confidants.
My creative process begins with something as simple as encountering a news story, reading the obituary page, or interacting with a special child in a hospital or classroom – whatever allows me to go on a journey that ends in finding a deeper truth about the human condition.
Just Buffalo teaching artist Marquis “Ten Thousand” Burton is a spoken word poet, educator and curator. Working with Shea’s Performing Arts, C.A.O.(Community Action Organization), Say Yes Buffalo and other non-profit and educational institutions, he has taught young writers to discover their voices through poetry while celebrating their stories for more than a decade. He has represented Buffalo in National Poetry Slams for the past ten years and has been the official team coach for two years. Marquis has also held the position of curator of poetry talent for the Music Is Art Festival for the past six years.
Annette Daniels Taylor believes in the power of words and the creative interpretations and inspirations of an arts practice which allows one to explore, create, understand and dream of doing and being better humans. An award winning playwright, author, poet, actor and filmmaker Daniels Taylor is a storyteller-artist experimenting with a variety of disciplines to create new theater/performance media.
Thembi Duncan is the Director of Arts Engagement and Education at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.
Her background in the performing arts extends to the Washington, D.C. area where she worked for nearly 20 years as an arts administrator, actor, director, producer, dramaturg, playwright, and teaching artist.
Lisa LaBrake has been teaching for 29 years at Sweet Home High School. She is a certified English and Reading teacher. At Sweet Home, she teaches American Literature, Senior English, and Mass Media Analysis. Staff development has been another area where she has focused her energies - teaching her peers about the latest technology techniques or reading strategies. She has also taught college classes in the Education Department and Learning and Instruction Department at University at Buffalo and Canisius College.
Lisa was the Technical Liaison for the Western New York Writing Project for 8 years, where she updated the website and taught technology workshops. She is certified to teach online courses in education and technology concepts.
“Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life” – Oscar Wilde
I have found as I’ve gotten older, that the work I do, whether on stage, in front of a camera, a training center, coaching or a one on one conversation that theatre, has become an extension of my need to always connect on a deeper human level. I’ve always believed in the arts, and my use of them, as a way to transcend the differences we have, create a true connection and much needed dialogue, interject humor or just listen and become truly engaged with your fellow human being and always, always be in the moment. We all have a story to tell. It’s our wiliness, through the arts, to listen to each other’s stories that allows me to remain optimistic that we’re going to be alright.
Applied Improv, also known as experiential learning, is a more effective and impactful educational tool. Rather than being told what’s important, participants are guided through activities that are connected to the subject being taught. These activities help the participants discover the foundational building blocks of the learning. That’s why it’s called ‘experiential’ -- you learn by doing.
Applied Improv allows participants the opportunity to practice a skill and immediately start to apply that skill in their work or life roles. A trainer doesn’t just talk about the importance of listening to understand, the trainer guides the participants through listening skill building exercises that allow the participants, in real time, to experience those skills and discover ‘ah ha’ moments in a group setting.
The exercises are designed to be fun and challenging while gently pushing participants to move, ever so slightly, beyond their comfort zone and learn a thing or two in the process.
Tara Scime is a passionate and energetic dance instructor and competitive ballroom dance director with talent in a wide variety of social and competitive dances. She has over 25 years of choreography training and execution in small and large spaces from one to 100 people. She is the owner of Ballroom & Beyond where she teaches smooth, Latin, swing, country, wedding, performance, and competitive ballroom dances.
Tara has a strong ability to teach via demonstration and interaction and a high level of music education. In addition, Tara works with physical education classes in area schools to provide alternative physical activity. She is also trained to work with Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers.
Art has always been my personal sanctuary. When I make art, I feel like my truest, most authentic self. I work mainly in the medium of 35 mm photography but I also work in mixed media, enamel, painting, sculpture, fiber art and large scale site specific installations. My work has been exhibited widely in museums and galleries in Western New York including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, The Burchfield-Penney Art Center (who have several pieces of my work in their permanent collection), Indigo Art, Western New York Book Arts as well as exhibits in major cities throughout the United States.
As a teaching artist for the past 25 years, I have worked with students in a wide variety of media, embracing the joy of the artistic process and the exploration of materials. I have been a teaching artist for Buffalo Public Schools, Bryant Street Studio, Westminster Early Childhood Programs, Neglia Ballet, Just Buffalo Literary Center (Writing with Light in public schools, The Just Buffalo Writing Center), the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the UB Anderson Galleries and Aspire, Inc., Young Audiences and now, proudly, Shea's Performing Arts Center. I recently ran an art program for the refugee children and families at VIVE La Casa.
I have worked with students on bookmaking, multi-cultural art, mural, collage, ceramics, mosaic, sewing, fiber coiling, print-making and painting. I love being able to create “holistic” development through art and help change children’s attitudes about the creative process.
Victoria Pérez is an accomplished theatre artist and teacher. She is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Raíces Theatre Company, the only theatre company in WNY dedicated to developing, nourishing and producing modern and original works dealing with the Latino experience in order to preserve our roots. She serves as Secretary on the Board of the Arts Foundation of the Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts and is a Committee member and theatrical expressions teacher for the Miss Borinquen Latina Leadership Development Program. Victoria has worked with many WNY theatres including Road Less Traveled, Ujima, ArtPark, Musicalfare, O’Connell and Company, Kavinoky Theatre and Subversive.
She has been nominated 10 times for the Buffalo Artie Awards and won for best actress in a musical for her work in FOUR GUYS NAMED JOSE AND UNA MUJER NAMED MARIA. She was also the program coordinator for MUSE (Musicians United for Superior Education) and for Antecesores, both arts organizations for which she was also a teaching artist specializing in theatre, music, and Puerto Rican folkloric dance and storytelling. She has been involved in the Buffalo’s young Latino community by doing theatre/music and dance residencies at the West Side Community Services, The Belle Center and with Friends of Hispanic Arts at Herman Badillo Bilingual Academy.
She was part of the creative team that was commissioned by the Arts in Education Institute of WNY to create a musical based on the history of Puerto Rico, entitled Mosaico Borincano. Victoria also received the Arts Award from Hispanics United of Buffalo and the Community Arts award from Senator Antoine Thompson. Victoria is a vocalist for the Buffalo Tango Orchestra and a teaching artist at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.
“To thine own self be true” – William Shakespeare
Not only is this one of the Bard’s most famous quotes (from Hamlet), but a motto I try to live by personally and professionally, which I aim to pass onto all my students. As a student of Arts Education, I am an advocate for the importance of the arts for both children and adults in the community. With my own passion of Shakespeare’s texts and the craft of acting, I thrive on sharing that joy, and watching the students do the work to find not only the characters story but also their own stories to igniting a fire of creativity.
I strive to give every student a strong music foundation on which they can continue to grow and develop their love of music. I think it is very important to design lessons for each individual. Every student is very different and I always make sure to acknowledge that. When I am working with a student, I consider the way that they learn, the speed that they learn, their life experiences, their age, etc. This then helps me to teach in a way that is most effective for that individual.
Performing is a huge learning experience for many different reasons and that is why I give my students as many opportunities to perform as possible. In these situations, many of them willingly try things that they have not done before.
I try to create an environment which allows students to stretch themselves. My goal is not to make every one of my students be a professional musician, but to share my love of music with them and hopefully have them make music a strong part of their lives.
I believe that each human’s voice is profoundly different and unique. An artist’s voice may be the greatest gift of all. Through that belief I think helping a performer find their true voice is a great responsibility. Guiding the student to discover the foundations of good vocal production help each student reach their vocal goals.
In the classroom the student’s growth is maximized through establishing mutual trust and the assurance of a safe place to create. The creative space must be free of judgement and allow the student the ability to take risks.
Whether onstage, in the classroom or teaching one on one, my goal is to help students discover their voice and find the joy in music making.
Actress and singer Ayana Williams has experience performing on stage and on screen, and has worked prolifically with the Paul Robeson Theatre.
She has also served the Educational Director at the African American Cultural Center in Buffalo, NY and as a teaching artist across the city of Buffalo, NY.
Joy Ann Wrona has been an actor for over 30 years. She has performed with various local theatre companies including Ghostlight Theatre, Rocking Horse Productions, Subversive Theatre, Alt Theatre (Artie-nominated ensemble) and many more. Her favorite roles include Reno Sweeney in Anything Goes, M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias (TANYS Excellence in Acting award winner) and Diana in California Suite. Joy is also an award-winning director as well as a theatre instructor for high school and middle school ages.