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Introducing Bella Coelho, Teen Cohort Teacher

Welcome back to the blog, Downstagers! If you’ve been following along, you know our Teen Cohort is a big part of DSA’s existence. We’ve shared why our Teen Cohort exists and what it’s been up to recently, and now we would like to introduce one of our Teen Cohort teachers. Friends, welcome the incredibly thoughtful human, actor, theatre educator, and food-and-drink enthusiast, Bella Coelho! Below, we ask Bella a few questions about herself as a theatre educator and about her role in the Teen Cohort.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the blog today, Bella! DSA’s Teen Cohort is truly fortunate to have you on the team. Your infectious drive and enthusiasm are a gift to us all. To start, I’d like to ask if there is a fundamental skill or idea that you enjoy teaching the most?

Hello! Thanks for having me on the Blog! The idea that I am most passionate about exploring with students is that each and every one of us is a storyteller, and just like all the other skills, whether it is vocal technique or dance, we can grow this [storytelling] skill with thought and intention. Being a storyteller expands from beyond how we perform as characters, or create as artists, but it is also the way we share our own identity with the world. I think our stories are all worth celebrating with confidence, and I hope to continue uplifting and creating confidence in our youth ensembles.

DSA has shared what the arts mean to each of us personally, and I’d like to ask that question from a different angle today. This time, we ask from the teacher’s perspective! What does teaching the arts mean to you? Similarly, how do we benefit from a society that has individuals, such as yourself, who seek to pass on the values and thrills of the arts?

At the beginning of my experience in the performing arts, my relationship to theatre revolved all around how acting made me feel personally. I felt the thrill of an audience and the wonder of transforming into a character. While I attended Carnegie Mellon Drama's Pre-College program I became familiar with the work of Augusto Boal and how theatre can be a medium to make change and take action. After my experiences with the Boal Project my relationship with the performing arts forever changed. Theatre can be about community and growth as much as it can be about transportation and magic. Working in arts education became a natural way for me to use theatre to create community and help young people to learn to have confidence in their own voice while collaborating with others. Regardless of if my students choose to pursue a career in the performing arts, I know the skills they gain during our time together allows them to grow into whatever path in life they choose.

There might be an idea out there that teachers know everything, but even teachers learn new things, right? I personally think it’s important to constantly evolve our teaching approach as we listen to and learn what our students need and what they positively respond to. Is there anything you are taking away from our Teen Cohort that you’d like to share with us?

As I watch our Teen Cohort prepare and go through the time consuming, taxing, and competitive process of auditioning for college performing arts programs, I learned that vulnerability and bravery are central to that process and are both emotions worth celebrating. The Teen Cohort members are taking big risks, putting themselves out there in new ways, in front of their peers and college admissions across the country, and I believe that takes strength. Also, allowing themselves to work outside their comfort zones is often scary, but it allows for growth. I have been so impressed and encouraged watching our students on their journey bridging these emotions and experiences this year!

As Bella notes, lifting up every individual’s story, cultivating confidence, developing deep collaboration skills, and taking risks are all essential skills that the arts can provide. We are mightily appreciative of Bella and her hard work in the Teen Cohort.

Thanks for stopping by, Downstagers! You are you, and that is your artistry.

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