KJ Moran Velz is our very newest Teaching Artist at ETC! She's currently teaching one of our classes at The Sycamore School. We asked KJ some questions to let you get to know her.
ETC: How long have you been a teaching artist with ETC?
KJ: 3 days! But I have been a teaching artist all across the DMV for 3 years and an educator in different capacities for 8.
ETC: Why do you like teaching theatre camps/classes?
KJ: Theatre education gives students the tools to discover new ways of processing their emotional lives through exploration, play, and performance. Doing so gives us a greater understanding of others and ourselves.
It allows us to feel freely, imagine wildly, and heal cathartically. Theatre gives us the unique gift of understanding one another, which is the foundation for all other careers and experiences that await students in their futures. It is never too early (or too late!) to discover new ways of processing our emotional lives, and theatre is one of the best tools to cultivate empathy and compassion in us all.
But mostly, I like to be silly and play games.
ETC: What is your go-to theatre game?
KJ: Murder Mystery Party! It's a slight adaptation of the board game One Night Ultimate Werewolf. I love taking board games I try out with family and friends and finding new uses for them in the classroom.
ETC: What's something interesting we don't know about you?
KJ: I'm primarily a playwright! My work ranges from a Sylvia Plath-inspired glam rock musical to a TYA tale of a chonky dog and her beloved human celebrating winter holidays, to a play that focuses on the limits and challenges of femininity within the context of a women’s rugby club. I am passionate about exploring the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, history, and language in my writing and teaching. I also studied Spanish and French during undergrad, and I am currently learning Ladino, or Judeo-Spanish, which is a language derived from Old Spanish and Hebrew that's still spoken today. I am interested in the intersection of Yiddish and Ladino theatre in the United States at the turn of the 20th century - translation is one of my favorite things!
ETC: What other hobbies or activities do you do when you aren't teaching with ETC?
KJ: I am a frequent audience member - my wife and I see a play almost every week. I love TV, ice water, musicals, singing, swimming, reading, and quality time with people I love. I also love being at home with my dog and cat - nothing beats sitting on the couch with them and doing absolutely nothing.
ETC: If a student would describe you, what would they say?
KJ: One of my fourth graders last year started watching Gilmore Girls for the first time, and he told me, "You have the humor and wit of Lorelai Gilmore, but you carry yourself like Emily." If you have any familiarity with the greatest TV show of all time, you know what a huge and strange compliment that is. This is the same student who once told me, "You probably cry at Hallmark movies, huh?" For a nine year old, he really had a deep understanding of my psyche.
ETC: Why did you choose to work with ETC?
KJ: I have taught kids for a long time, but I am in love with ETC's mission to educate students from 3 to 103. Learning never has to stop! I teach now, but I am still learning all the time. I hope one day to have an 104 year old student so we can expand this mission even further.