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Cirque Eloize concludes arts curriculum’s first year

By : Sarah Lifshin

As part of their John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Partners in Education Curriculum, the Anderson Center and Johnson City School District will present a matinee performance of Cirque Eloize for JC students Thursday, April 29.
Anticipation for the theatrical circus production of Cirque Eloize has had the Thursday, April 29 evening event in the Anderson Center sold out since January. However, for organizers of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Partners in Education curriculum — the Anderson Center and Johnson City Central School District — a matinee performance that day will provide local youth the opportunity to receive their first taste of live theater.

More than 800 Johnson City High School students are expected to attend the theatrical troupe’s performance, staged intentionally as part of the partnership’s plan to provide opportunities for youth in arts education.

“The Anderson Center is greatly interested in building audiences for the future and perhaps motivating youth to become artists of the future,” said Mary Mack, assistant director of the Anderson Center. “When we heard of the Kennedy Center program, we thought it was a great opportunity.”

Last year, the Anderson Center and Johnson City School District’s proposal was selected as one of 12 national partnerships chosen from 70 applicants to become part of the Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education program, a two-year commitment to develop an arts curriculum within the area.

Because of the partnership, Cirque Eloize agreed to provide a daytime presentation. The mesmerizing “nouveau cirque” from Quebec blends acrobatics, theater, dance and music into its circus production of Nomade, a nighttime carnival.

“We realized that we have so many students who have never seen a program like this or may have never been in the Anderson Center or on the Binghamton University campus,” said Ken Turner, Johnson City music director. “Some may have never even seen a live performance of any type.”

Language arts teachers will be provided with a study guide and short video to discuss with students prior to the performance. “We are trying to prepare them the best we can for the performance,” Turner said. “We have a lot of logistical issues and the Kennedy Center was instrumental in showing us how to put it all together.”

The partnership is designed primarily for youth; the Kennedy Center recommended only two to three programs for the partnership’s inaugural year. In March, the partners presented their first program — a workshop by Kennedy Center trained artist Amy McDonald, who lectured to about 20 Johnson City educators from school literacy teams. An underwriting grant funded the session.

Mack said the advantage of working with the Kennedy Center is the network of other past and present participants. Since the program began in 1991, more than 82 communities from 43 states have participated. Other advantages include the availability of continuing resources from the center, including touring workshops for teachers and the ability to book Kennedy Center touring performances at reduced rates.

As its first year concludes, Mack and Turner said the potential exists to expand the partnership to other areas of the University.

“We feel pretty good about where we are with this and we are going to let it evolve into the most natural relationship and partnership that it can be,” Turner said. “The Kennedy Center can provide a lot of resources to us and we can make things work successfully.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08