West Virginia Storytelling Guild

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Kevin Cordi

Kevin Cordi

Unlock the Puzzle of Learning with Story
Kevin Cordi is a nationally-recognized Storyteller whose parents were raised in West Virginia and good-naturedly claims, "Stories were born in West Virginia, everyone else borrows."
Cordi is well-traveled, having visited over thirty-five states, England, and most recently Scotland.  He holds a Masters Degree in Storytelling and Education, and earned a PhD from Ohio State University.  He now teaches at Ohio Dominican University.  His storytelling work has been commissioned by The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Highlights for Children, Newsweek, and the National Youth Storytelling Hall of Fame.
In addition, Cordi is the co-author (with Judy Sima) of the award-winning book Raising Voices: Youth Storytelling Groups and Troupes. He is, according to the National Storytelling Network, "the first full-time high school storytelling teacher in the country."
Kevin was just appointed as the first ever "Storyteller-in-Residence" for an Academic Year at The Ohio State University.

Kevin is now working with a new program that involves bringing youth on stage to perform with him.  It is called "Ensemble Storytelling."
What is Performance Ensemble Storytelling? Youth on Stage
Ensemble Storytelling is a program designed by Kevin that enables children of all ages to be empowered by telling stories with other kids often on a public stage. Kevin draws from his masters in storytelling and education, his Ph.D work, as well as his experience as a full time storytelling teacher, both at high school and college levels, to create and implement storytelling connections that are student driven. He travels across the country providing instruction on story curriculum. From these unique
experiences Kevin has designed methods to help boost a student's confidence and in a short time provide for the student the tools to not only perform on stage but to invite further storytelling connections in their lives. This ensemble teaching provides the much needed voice of kids and young adults a place on a storytelling stage to share their work.

Under Kevin's skillful mediation and coaching, students collaboratively create stories that incorporate their collective voices through ensemble storytelling. As an ensemble, they invest in the stories. Stories are not written down, but instead composed by the students. The direction of the story is not solely on telling, but instead on sharing the whole story. Each student invests in story contributing both physically and vocally. Both organic and planned story construction is encouraged and developed in each
performance. Stories are not realized from scripts, but instead actualized together each time a tale is shared.

Why Does "Ensemble Storytelling" Work?

Kevin has discovered that when kids tell with other kids and an adult shares the stage with them; group confidence builds as well as individual assurance from the experience. Basically, kids feel comfortable when others kids tell together. Their comfort level is increased by having a trained storytelling coach telling with the students. Kevin not only provides workshops on training kids to tell in ensemble training but coaches adults how to be an "Ensemble Teller."

Why Should A Festival or School Bring Ensemble Storytelling To Their Program?

Put simply, it works! Every festival or school program wants to encourage kids to see the value that comes from storytelling. In addition to this storytelling organizers would like parents and grandparents to know the value of story. Ensemble Storytelling compliments these goals. When parents know their own child or a friend of their son or daughter from their hometown is on stage and will be telling with a professional storyteller, the attendance often rises in the audience. Grandparents, neighbors, and others will come to see their community is a telling format. This sends a
message that storytelling is a coveted art but it is one that every
community can be involved in.

Be involved in an innovative program that celebrates youth and adults telling together. It works!

Find out more at

Cordi's Reminisces About West Virginia -
When I was growing up I would sit, with my five brothers and sisters, on a dilapidated old couch while my mother would regale us with tales from Clay County.  On that old couch I would return to Wavie's store, go up Crooked Run, and learn the simple yet profound ways of Appalachia.  My father would walk by that old couch and he would share his tales of Morgantown.   In fact, since we could not afford to travel, this was our visiting.   The only trip we ever took as a family once a year was to West Virginia and I thought the only two states in the country were Ohio and West Virginia.

I treasure the stories that were told to me and the wonders that they have brought.  I have studied and learned the old ghost stories of Coen's graveyard, visited my great grandmother's rusty farmhouse, and have gone visiting with my mother to the real wisdom keepers of the mountains.

Even though I have traveled to tell and teach in over 35 states and all parts of the world, I proudly carry the stories of
West Virginia with me wherever I go.  I think these stories have helped me become a better storyteller.

I value the words from that old couch because they were the first ones that help me appreciate the mountains and the mountain people.