One of the things I really enjoy doing for local teachers is to compile materials that may help them prepare their students for a great experience when they come to a performance at the Arts Center. I’ve been adapting lots of arts integration models over the years, seeing what works great (Leonard Bernstein’s Young People Concerts are a classic), to national resources like the Arts Edge at the Kennedy Center, and other places to find ideas and material that will hopefully be useful.

The material is usually presented in a “Study Guide”; a beatifully formated and designed brochure-like piece with lots of pictures, and a typical audience ettiquette section.

For the next School Show at the Zoellner Arts Center, I’ve chosen to abandon the tradition and gather a pile of resources with teachers through the cloud.

Through a unique link, the teachers will have access to editable word documents, high resolution images, and edited video they can download to avoid pop-up ads, or internet filters in their classroom. Here’s the full menu:

  • 3 suggested lesson plans – classroom activity, art projects, writing reflections, vocabulary building
  • Cirque Vocabulary – introduces terms associated with the art of cirque.
  • One sheet about the artists
  • An interview with a cirque performer (what it’s like to be a professional cirque artist)
  • 5 high resolution images of Magmanus
  • Video links of Magmanus and Cirque Alfonse for comparison exercise (if you attended last October’s Cirque performance)
  • edited video of Magmanus Street Performance.

The intention is to offer teachers material they copy, paste, adapt and arrange however they feel suits their students. This change is in response to one school principal who shared with me his students need richer vocabulary. This expereince in terms of connecting what they see to new words might make this audience the most cirque savvy community in the Mid-Atlantic Region. If they can walk away from the performance correctly identifying silks, wheels, slack line, tight rope, trapeze and teeterboard, they are farther ahead than most American cirque audiences.

Why does this vocabulary matter? They will have a shared language when describing what they saw. They will be able to compare this cirque performances and compnayies. One middle school returning this year had the entire school attend a different cirque show last year. They will be able to see how the performers sequnced tricks. They will have a special language. understanding and appreciation of the discipline of cirque performance.

To know about a cultural expression that is different from your own builds awareness. Which leads to self-reflections.  Which leads to empathy. Which leads kids to be curious and want to know more.

That is the power of what an hour at the Arts Center can do for our community.

I hope the teachers find something useful in the materials. If they don’t, I hope they will direct me to what else I can do for them. Without teachers seeing the value in the experience, these kids won’t get exposed to unique experiences like this. Far as I know, the cirque show is the only one accessible for school attendance in the Lehigh Valley this year. Sure, there’s a competitor venue bringing circus – on a Sunday for families. This Monday performance is bringing kids from schools very close to campus.

This show happens on the Monday after a 4-day campus party celebrating the sesquicentennial. On the day after this show; I sleep in.


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