días de los niños del mundo
At the heart of this season of education and outreach programming at Society for the Performing Arts is the holiday Children’s Day, specifically the annual Mexican celebration el día del niño. This holiday recognizes the contributions of youth and endorses their well-being through festive and engaging activities. Traditionally on April 30th of each year, students in Mexico are let out of their regular classes and offered opportunities to engage in traditional activities such as games and face painting. In contemporary contexts, other holiday activities such as storytelling and reading have even been developed into full-scale literacy campaigns. Cultural literacy is also at the heart of contemporary celebrations of el día del niño, as the holiday was founded and continues to be recognized in cross-cultural settings in the United States and in countries around the world.
días de los niños del mundo, SPA’s 2012-2013 season of education and outreach programs, reflects the purpose and practice of this significant holiday through a number of ambitious, high-quality programs for people of all ages and backgrounds throughout the city of Houston. Hundreds of K-12 students are able to create and exhibit their art through our annual visual art contest with a thematic focus on youth and Latino arts, inspired by Mexican-American singer Lila Downs. Residency activities for Houston-area students and community members facilitated by world-class dance companies Grupo Corpo and Companhia de Dança Deborah Colker reflect the companies’ strong youth-centered education programs in Brazil. SPA supports the development of language, performing and visual arts education in Houston Independent School District schools, such as Baker-Ripley Community Center’s community school with a majority Latino student population, through large-scale programs like Movement toward Literacy. Through a partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH), the month of April will offer a variety of activities in conjunction with the museum’s photography series Los Americanos, which examines the contributions of Mexican-Americans in the United States, and culminating in a community celebration on April 29, 2013, the day before El día del niño. The diverse programming of Society for the Performing Arts performances and outreach activities this season well represent the holiday’s spirit of youthful celebration and focus on reading and cultural literacy.
Major partners for education and outreach this season include Houston Public Library, Houston Independent School District, Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center, Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center, High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and Rice University.
Highlights of dias de los ninos del mundo, our 2012-2013 season of education and outreach programs, are:
días de los niños Student Visual Art Contest (August 2012-April 2013)
The annual contest provides thousands of Houston’s K-12 students the opportunity to express their understandings of the performing arts and cultural arts through their creativity in the visual arts. The unique music of Mexican-American singer Lila Downs and the retablos that she’s commissioned and performs with serve as the inspirations for next season’s visual art contest. Students are not required to create retablos, but successful contest entries represent Lila Downs’ musical performance and/or Latino cultural arts. Further inspiration comes from Los Americanos, a photography series highlighting Latino contributions to American culture. Scholarship- and prize-recipients from Grades K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-11, and Grade 12 display an impressive level of skill, creativity and meaning. Awardees are recognized, along with their teachers and parents, at an awards ceremony on Friday, April 5, 2013, with an appearance by Lila Downs. At Wells Fargo Bank branches throughout Houston as well as the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center, student work is displayed at free, public exhibitions throughout the month of April.
STOMPmotion: A Movement Toward Literacy Project (August 2012-March 2013)
STOMPmotion helps students and teachers utilize the performing arts in addition to the language arts to focus on battling illiteracy. The fall 2012 component, called STOMP Out Illiteracy, enables students and teachers to help the public understand the impact of illiteracy through a creative writing program in conjunction with SPA’s presentation of STOMP. The spring 2013 component provides teachers with the skills to bring the language arts and performing arts together in the classroom to promote stronger student engagement with reading and literary works like Naguid Mahfouz’s classic The Thief and the Dogs. Through various workshops lead by local teaching artists, classroom teachers and company members from the renowned U.K. dance company Motionhouse, hundreds of elementary and secondary students in Houston take positive steps in their movement toward literacy.
Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center Art Program (August 2012-December 2012)
In support of programs for youth in their school and community, Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center receives assistance from local teaching artists to develop its after-school arts program, facilitated by the center’s artists-in-residence. World-class artists from around the world as well as those based in Houston provide lecture-demonstrations and performances at the center.
Houston Librofest (September 2012)
SPA is partnering with the Houston Public Library on this event. It serves as SPA's kick-off event to our season-long celebration, dias de los ninos del mundo. Houston Librofest embodies our goals for education and outreach this season, celebrating cultural diversity and promoting literacy within our communities. Specifically, Houston Librofest is a book and arts festival for the general public that highlights Hispanic writers and showcases the vibrant culture of the Latino community through storytelling, writing workshops, book giveaways, crafts and performances for children and adults. The inaugural event will run from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday, September 15, 2012, at the Houston Public Library’s Central Plaza in downtown Houston and feature a lineup of acclaimed poets and writers including Gwendolyn Zepeda, Claudia Kolker, Javier O. Huerta and Sarah Cortez. Events include author readings for kids, teens, and adults, a bilingual story time, a bilingual writing workshop presented by Writers in the Schools (WITS), entertainment presented by the Society for the Performing Arts (SPA), Puppet Pizzaz, and a variety of crafts and activities for the entire family.
Companhia de Dance Deborah Colker Movement Center Residency (October 2012)
Celebrated choreographer Deborah Colker and her dance company bring the spirit of her training center (called Movement Center) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Houston through a series of residency activities. The Movement Center’s pre-professional performance school provides training for Brazil’s highest caliber performers, and the company will work with students from Houston’s famed High School for the Performing & Visual Arts for a 3-day workshop to push the boundaries of their creativity. The company will also bring their physically-demanding dance style to training sessions for dance educators and students from all parts of the Houston area.
Grupo Corpo Grupo Cidadao Education Program (March 2013)
Grupo Cidadao is the name of the education wing of Grupo Corpo, renowned dance company from the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Though a pre-professional training center like Colker’s Movement Center (see above), Grupo Cidadao is exceptional because it fully represents the company’s strong focus on education for all. They send their top company members to satellite campuses throughout Belo Horizonte to ensure that all children, not just those planning to become professional performers, get the best public arts education possible. The results are astounding. Company members demonstrate their work in education at a lecture/Demonstration at Baker-Ripley Neighborhood Center as well as during a public talk about Grupo Cidadao.
Arts Activities at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (April 2013)
The Museum of Fine Arts Houston hosts a number of activities for students, teachers and other community members throughout the month of April. Youth-focused art activities are provided through the MFAH Education department, while professional development sessions help educators prepare their students for engaging with the visual art contest, the work of Lila Downs and the photography exhibition Los Americanos. The month of education and outreach will culminate in a community event on the day before the 2013 El día del niño holiday.
For further details about participating in these and other 2012-2013 season education and outreach programs, visit the SPA Education homepage.