Andrew performed in the play Peter and the Wolf at his school last week. The production is part of cooperative relationship that his school has with the University of the North Carolina School of the Arts.
The Narrator for the play was the emeritus director of the Winston-Salem Symphony. He is also one of the founding members of the school. The children were accompanied by a string quintet from UNCSA. As part of a senior project, students from the dance school choreograph the production and perform with the children.
The dancers were amazing ! They choreographed a "kinder, gentler" Peter and the Wolf. The Wolf in the end is taken to the zoo. And since he had swallowed the duck whole, ended up throwing him up in the end. Even the hunters were given a makeover. Instead of traditional hunters in plaid with guns, they were NINJA Hunters dressed in black! They were cool. One funny story about the lead Ninja Hunter. He covered his face during the performance to make himself look more Ninja like. That night at home Andrew said to me, "Mom, I know why the Ninja covered up his face? Because he had S-N-O-T coming out and no tissues." The "S-N-O-T" that he was referring to so discreetly by spelling, was actually a NOSE RING! I guess he had never seen one before.
The children each got to choose which part they wanted to play. Andrew chose to be the Duck ("Because a duck is a bird and I love birds!"). I asked him why he didn't choose to be the bird. ("Umm, Mom, Caroline says that the bird is a GIRL")! I guess he never noticed that the lead ducks in this performance were girls, themselves. His cousin, Alex, chose to be Peter.
The performance is the culmination of an entire unit on Peter and the Wolf. In music class, the children study the music and instruments from Peter and the Wolf. In art, they draw the animals using various mediums. In literature, they read several versions of the story.
They also expand the study to research wolves in other stories (where they are usually portrayed as aggressive and villainous) and compare the fictional wolves to the wolves they study in nonfiction books. The teachers use this as a platform to talk about stereotypes during class meeting. They write their own wolf stories in writing class, and in math they make graphs and compare and contrast the animals. (legs, colors, fur, feathers).
I was so impressed (as I usually am at ABES) with how developmentally appropriate the program was for kindergartners. The school really does a great job of putting the children's needs first. The performance was during the school day. Each child was allowed to choose the part he wanted. The dance moves were fun and easy enough for each child to perform. They performed in the same place they had practiced. There were no "stars" of the show. All of the kids had an equal opportunity to be on stage. The children shadowed the lead dancers in a sort of "follow the leader" fashion. There were 2 big ducks with 6 little ducks waddling behind.
When the performance was over, we had a little cast party in the classroom. Andrew had so much fun showing Ryan his classroom and playing with him. They really are best friends. I love how close they are to one another.