Monday, June 17, 2019

Reactions from IPAY: participatory art for kids

Last week I was able to attend the International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) Showcase in my sunny hometown of Austin, Texas, which presented incredible performances of music, vaudeville, contemporary dance, theatre, and puppetry from all over the world.

One hot topic at IPAY Showcase 2012 was the “Participatory Arts Experience,” which is an umbrella term for performances like immersive theatre, interactive sculpture and video art, and site-specific works.  Two of the IPAY showcasing artists presented stunning examples of how the Participatory Arts Experience can work for youth and family audiences:  The Architects of Air and Compagnia TPO & Insite Arts…

The Architects of Air:  Luminarium Mirazozo

Architects of Air Luminarium

What’s inflatable, colorful, gigantic, and has sprawled out on lawns across the world?  The Luminarium, created by the Architects of Air!  Designed in 1992 by Alan Parkinson in Nottingham, UK, this strange, behemoth structure looks like a Bounce House but is something even more remarkable.  Visitors enter the structure to find themselves submerged in a dazzling atmosphere of color and light created by sunlight flowing through the panels of brilliantly-colored PVC.  Everyone’s experience is different, says Mado Ehrenborg of AoA, but generally “adults tend to become very relaxed and children tend to get revved up and energized by the Luminarium.”

Compagnia TPO & Insite Arts:  Children’s Cheering Carpet – Saltbush

Salt Brush

The Children’s Cheering Carpet is a narrative journey of two Aboriginal friends through the diverse land and soundscapes of Australia.  Throughout their journey, children from the audience are invited to dance and play with the interactive technology – a touch-sensitive white floor using infrared technology triggered by images and sound.  The vibrant images projected invoke Aboriginal and contemporary Australian imagery, sound, wildlife, and culture.  I won’t ruin it for you, but there is a particularly wondrous moment in which children are invited to stargaze under the vast Australian sky.

So there you have it – two extraordinary examples of how the (re)emerging trend of participatory art is put into effect for kids and families.  And I wouldn’t have experienced these performances without attending IPAY in Austin.  Although Showcase 2012 was four jam-packed days of performances, networking, and professional development, I have returned to NYU Skirball energized and excited about what we have to offer youth and families in our own community!

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