Public Speaking Programs
with Karen Montanaro


The Real Link Between The Arts and Improved Learning Outcomes

This page is dedicated to my on-going quest for the very best way to convey what I've learned over 30 years of performing and teaching in schools. I perform for and work with young people of all ages, grade-levels, races, socio-economic backgrounds, special needs, etc.


An informed and progressive approach to arts programming in school is essential to meeting the physical, emotional and social needs of young people in the 21st Century.

Currently, educational goals are threatened by forces outside the classroom. More and more young people are addicted to screens and other dependencies. There is plenty of evidence pointing to the dangers of too much screen time, but very little hope for overcoming these dangers.

I understand that an informed and progressive approach to arts programming in school can undo the addictive aspects of technology, by restoring facets of our individuality that technology takes away such as: Full command of our own creative choices. Full use of our energy, imagination and focus. Full access to our goal-setting and problem-solving mechanisms. Practical techniques for blowing the sludge of self-consciousness out of our channels of self-expression. Etc.

“When I’m outside, I make stuff up. When I’m on my playstation, I play with things that other people make up.” —My Ten-Year-Old Neighbor

Beyond arts and education, there's a deeper issue having to do with how we're designed and how this digital age threatens to undo our design, and how the arts put us back together again.

It's not enough to bring the arts into the school. We need to know why and how the arts save lives. This begins with understanding that the arts are more than external “things" such as art forms and techniques. They are also private experiences, windows to our inner life and a supreme instrument of emancipation.


In this presentation, I will introduce a new science — a science that corresponds with how all of us are designed.

We're like everyone else and we’re unlike anyone else.

In all of human history and in all of human future, there has never been anyone even remotely like you. And yet, this uniqueness is part of our universal design.

As kids move through the educational system, they become more and more afraid of being different. The fear of being different is a rejection of self — an early indication of a house divided against itself.

The arts transform the fear of being different into the experience of being unique. This is a life-affirming and life-saving transformation.

The arts dissolve differences between people by celebrating distinctions among us. In this way, the arts provide a practical foundation for real progress.

A sampling of institutions that have presented Karen's public speaking program:

Sanford School District (Sanford, Maine)

University of Southern Maine (Portland, Maine)
Arts & Education Conference Keynote Presenter

The Portland Ballet Studio Theater (Portland, Maine)

Maine College of Art (Portland, Maine)

Creating Positive Climates for Youth Conference (Portland, Maine)

The Turner Memorial Public Library (Presque Isle, Maine)

Wintergreen Art Center (Presque Isle, Maine)

AAHPERD Nationa Conference and Expo (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Sykesville Middle School (Sykesville, Maryland)
School Board Meeting

Celebration Barn Theater (South Paris, Maine)

Principia College (Elsah, Illinois)

What people are saying about Karen's public speaking and performances:

"Our music teacher was so impressed by what you accomplished with our students and how well they all attended and followed your directions... He wants to observe you to learn from you! You are nothing short of amazing. Thank you for enriching our students and gifting them with a forever memory!"

- Cheryl Turpin
Principal, Stevens Brook Elementary School

"I saw Karen Montanaro perform today and left feeling like I had just had a great massage. As through her mime skills I could 'see' walls, ropes, and walkways that were, in fact not there, the warmth of her presence and the kind import of her positve message to the young people of the audience were tangible. I felt transported to a happy place, a place of imagination and fulfillment. This may sound a bit like a religious experience but one of the best of its kind, where the mind and spirit are set free to float with balloons and dance with tigers. As Wordsworth wrote, 'There are in our existence spots of time, that with distinct pre-eminence retain a renovating virtue, whence... our minds our nourished and invisibly repaired.' For me, this performance will be one of those precious spots of time."

-Cynthia Reedy
Word Language Faculty, Hebron Academy

"Last Friday evening my wife, Susan, and I drove through soul cleansing rain to Denmark, Maine to see dancer and mime Karen Montanaro present her one woman show, Tanzspiel. Some performers strive to overwhelm their audiences with the dazzle of their art, and even though I'm often happy to go along for the ride, I usually end up feeling I was somewhat manipulated into my responses. Much more satisfying are the times when an open hearted performer like Karen takes a more back and forth approach, and asks us to come along on a journey through her little piece of the world, exalting with her as we take in the wonders of the place. That evening of course, the greatest wonder was her movement - head to toe displays of precision and subtlety, all drawn out with little reverberations and after-images that impinge themselves into the memory. As a matter of fact if I close my eyes right now I can still see the facial distortions of her gum chewing baseball players, or watch the twists and turns of the tiger and the hunter as they ripple through her body, or perhaps best of all, see her dancing almost weightless while perched on a stool and looking for all the moon like some sort of human lunar module hovering just above the surface of a new world. Wow, Karen, what an evening! And afterward when we stepped outside? Wouldn't you know it, the rain was gone and the world was indeed new."

-Michael Cooper
Maskmaker & Touring Artist, Chesterville, Maine



Karen's Public Speaking Program

New Promo Pics Click Here!
Photocredit: George C. Anderson

Karen on stool image

A Visit to Sanford (News Article)
Photocredit: Argy Nestor

Students Learn Mime

Bringing Magic (News Article)
Photocredit: Times Record

School Assemblies Image
School Assemblies Click Here!
Photocredit: The Sun Journal

DVD Ad Image

Struggle to Be Image

A Dance To Touch The Soul

Concert Image
Concerts CLICK HERE!

Karen Teaching
Workshops CLICK HERE!

Tanzspiel Poster

Presenter Resources CLICK HERE!

Karen with Marcel Marceau
Karen with Marcel Marceau
Read More in "Backstage"