Summer Institute For Educators

Summer Institute for Educators 2019

Identity, Belonging and Sense of Place
July 15-18, 2019
Metropolitan Arts Center

Free for teachers and administrators, Muse Machine’s 2019 summer institute featured teaching artists from internationally acclaimed Ping Chong + Company and the theme Identity, Belonging and Sense of Place. Pre- and post-institute activities were designed to provide rich experiences throughout the year to inform teaching around storytelling, oral histories, cultural heritage and more. Teachers attendees can earn 28 seat hours and/or three University of Dayton credit hours.

Read the 2019 Institute evaluation report

Enjoy these images from the 2019 Institute:


Both the institute and Muse-sponsored, pre- and post-institute curriculum workshops addressed relevant contemporary issues around community and culture. The following essential or guiding questions framed the year’s professional development series.

  • What does it mean to belong? How does a person develop a sense of belonging?
  • What is a sense of place and why do some people feel more connected to their surroundings than others?
  •  How does one’s sense of place impact his/her relationship(s) with their surroundings?
  • If place influences one’s identity, what happens when a person is forced to or must move?

Summer Institute 2019 Artist Bios

Scott Austin currently teaches theater, devising, and English at Edward R. Murrow High school in Brooklyn. He grew up in Syracuse where he began his love of theater, and eventually earned an MA in Educational Theater from NYU. He can be found on stage at the Magnet Theater performing improv or writing with the The Bechdel Group, a NY-based theater organization aimed at writing complex roles for women. He is happy to be working with team of teaching artists with Ping Chong + Company again.

Eric Aviles is an actor, writer, teaching artist and activist based in NYC. He has performed nationally at El Teatro Campesino, Steppenwolf, Goodman, Teatro Vista, The Magic and INTAR.  Through many roles, Eric examined the Latino experience in the U.S. He is the winner of the 2018 NY Innovative Theater Award for “Outstanding Original Full Length Script” and nominee for “Outstanding Solo Performance” for his solo play Where You From? What You Be About?  Eric has more than 15 years of teaching-artist experience working with youth and adults in schools, community centers and prisons.

Ping Chong is a theater director, choreographer and video installation artist. Raised in NYC’s Chinatown, he is a seminal figure in Asian-American arts movement and pioneer in the use of media in theater. His theatrical works bring his unique artistic vision to bear on major historical issues of contemporary times, and focus on bringing unheard voices and under-represented stories to the stage. In 1992, Ping created the first Undesirable Elements production, a series of community-based, oral-history projects, working with non-actors to explore issues of culture and identity. Ping is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two BESSIE awards, two OBIE awards and a 2014 National Medal of Arts.

Ryan Conarro is a devised theater maker, educator, and community engagement facilitator. As PCC’s Artistic Collaborator in Residence and Community Projects Associate, his recent projects include the interdisciplinary performance work ALAXSXA | ALASKA, and community project and podcast CIHA STORIES through ArtPlace America. His work has been seen at the Kennedy Center; La MaMa; National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian and Oregon Contemporary Theatre. Recognitions include: Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Award; Juneau Arts & Humanities Council Individual Artist Award; and three Alaska Broadcaster’s Association Goldie Awards for work as a radio journalist and storyteller.

Vaimoana (Moana) Niumeitolu is a painter/muralist, poet, singer, actress and educator. She was born in Nuku’alofa, Tonga; raised in Hawa’ii and Utah and is based in NYC. She has been designing curriculum and facilitating education initiatives all over NYC and has led community-based art programs across the U.S. and internationally. She has directed and written over 20 educational theater productions with youth including, a production being performed at Lincoln Center in New York City last year. She has completed community murals globally, is the founder of a female music and poetry trio and has authored two original plays.

Ping Chong speaks about the power that comes from sharing our stories: