Talking Hands Talking Feet was founded in 1997, by Melanie and Paul Zeir, and provides educational songs and movement choreography for children, teachers and parents.
- Teaching in preschools since 2000
- Studio Workshops since 1997
- 12 week Artist Residencies in Primary and Middle Schools since 2005
- Orchestrating Music Theater Summer Camps since 2002
- Conducting Professional Development workshops for educators since 2012
As of January 2016 we have worked directly with 5,362 children in four different states and Canada. We have taught 341 teachers in professional development sessions. Our music has won the Parent’s Choice award and reaches many more children, parents and teachers worldwide.
Melanie Zeir is co-founder, teaching artist and Program Director of Talking Hands Talking Feet. She creates and orchestrates the movement aspect of the program along with the technical side of things: webmaster, audio and video engineer. Her studies in movement disciplines encompass Ballet, Modern Dance, Tap, Jazz, Creative Dance, Yoga, Tai Chi and Electrobics.
She is certified by the S.A.D.T.A (South African Dancing Teachers Association) and Electrobics International. She holds a certificate in Dance and Movement Studies from Naropa University in Boulder Colorado.
Through creative movement she composes dance programs to enhance children's development. Important connections are made through coordination, rhythm, left/right brain cross over work and theatrical choreography. Her method engenders confidence in young lives to be able express themselves with ease and joy through individual and ensemble composition.
She grew up in South Africa. The nature and way of tribal Africa was a potent teacher in her youth. Dance, rhythm and music are heart and soul to Africa. Thus her education and training came very naturally. It is expressed in the way she engages children and grownups in movement. Passion and grace, natural intelligence and versatility inform her arts; and it transfers to others so easily!
She confers with a network of educators worldwide to integrate Talking Hands Talking Feet programs within the curriculum needs of different school environments.
Paul Andrew Zeir is co-founder and Creative Director of Talking Hands Talking Feet. He is an original teaching artist weaving curriculum content with rare insight and humanity into useful songs loved by children around the world. He teaches, performs and orchestrates original music, movement and Storytelling Theater as a springboard for arts integrated education.
Education through the arts are Paul's passion and training. It began with powerful childhood experiences witnessing the impact of music therapy for children with disabilities pioneered by his mother. It continued as he lived and worked with indigenous villagers of Alaska, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela working with the Institute of Cultural Affairs. These experiences engraved in him a profound value for the rich tapestry of human theater endemic to tribal peoples around the world and the powerful, natural role of the arts in education. He also spent several semesters between travels in comparative religion, psychology and anthropology disciplines at Colorado University, Northern Arizona University and the Global Academy of the Institute of Cultural Affairs.
His passion for Arts Integrated Education stems from his experience and belief that true education cannot be separate from the arts; that education is only as effective as the art through which it is conveyed.
Paul and Melanie began working together within a few months of meeting and falling in love in 1985. They shared a common love for experimental theater, music and dance as a media for human development and education. Their primary wish as a parents, beginning in 1995, was to provide a rich and loving multi-layered learning ecology in the home and family life which naturally included music, dance, storytelling and theater arts. Other parents in their Seattle community began requesting these songs for their own children and before long, the first Talking Hands Talking Feet workshops were born in the autumn of 1997.
Thus the adventure into children's education began! In 2005, many hundreds of family oriented workshops later, our youngest son's first grade teacher in Santa Fe, New Mexico asked us to help with an end of school year performance which involved orchestrating four classrooms in a songful extravaganza. It went so well that the following year the teachers asked us to the do it again with our own original songs and that we would be paid to do it! Thus, Talking Hands Talking Feet curriculum based performing arts programs were born.
Since 2008 Talking Hands Talking Feet has received generous grants from the NEA through New Mexico Arts to do our original 12 week curriculum based performing arts programs every year in several schools in Santa Fe, New Mexico.