NYC's Symphony Space Announces a Season of Music, Dance, Theater and Literature for Kids and Families

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Symphony Space’s ‘Just Kidding’ and ‘Thalia Kids Book Club 2012-2013 Season Debuts in October, Offering a Host of Weekly Music, Dance, Theater and Literary Experiences for Kids and Families

From October through April, Symphony Space (http://www.symphonyspace.org) presents more than 30 events in two theatres, providing New York City families with diverse entertainment in a safe, inviting and family-friendly environment. The Upper West Side landmark presents weekly options for preschoolers and elementary-to-middle-school-aged kids alike, with dozens of music, dance, theater and literary events scheduled for the 2012-13 season.

More than 9,700 kids and their adult friends attended Symphony Space’s family programs during 2011-12.

“It is such an honor to be a part of each new generation’s love of the arts,” says Cynthia Elliott, President and CEO of Symphony Space. “From years of experience as presenters, we know what will delight audiences and provide young and old with enriching experiences. Just Kidding and the Thalia Kids’ Book Club take the guesswork out of weekend planning for NYC families.”

Just Kidding Series
Symphony Space’s “Just Kidding” series, now in its tenth year, offers interactive music, theatre and dance experiences for every family with children ages 3 to 7. The season debuts on Saturday, October 6 with a performance by NYC based kid-pop star Suzi Shelton.

Just Kidding’s music lineup will range from polka to punk, traditional folk to “rowdy roots,” kid-friendly Delta blues from Randy Kaplan to the bilingual Latin songs of Moona Luna and Hot Peas ‘N Butter. NYC favorites The Deedle Deedle Dees, Uncle Rock and Bari Koral will perform their smart, interactive concerts in the Leonard Nimoy Thalia. Elizabeth Mitchell, Gustafer Yellowgold and Justin Roberts return for their annual blockbuster concerts in the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre. And, Symphony Space is proud to introduce new musical acts to New York audiences: Fox and Branch from Milwaukee, The Not-Its! from Seattle, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band from Los Angeles, and Elska from a newly-formed volcanic island off the coast of Iceland (or Brooklyn, NY if you check her driver’s license), all of whom have gained national recognition in the burgeoning kindie music movement. “We aim for an eclectic mix,” explains Darren Critz, a father and the Director of the Just Kidding program. “Really! If we were a radio station, our advertisers would drop like flies! But, it’s exciting to be able to offer such a great variety of musical genres without having to pigeonhole ourselves into just pop or folk or bluegrass or world music. Childhood is about discovery, and we want to offer a lot for kids to see, hear and discover for themselves.”

While music is a mainstay of the 2012-13 season, theatrical events will provide a great dose of comedic and engaging storytelling that draws from some of the best performance groups touring the nation. On October 13th, the acclaimed, NYC-based physical comedy troupe Parallel Exit presents “Exit, Stage Left!” Their show borrows from Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and the Three Stooges to create a stage full of delightful mayhem. As The New York Times noted, “Everyone goes home a winner.” In November, the Mermaid Theatre of Nova Scotia presents “Treasured Stories of Eric Carle” a gorgeous glow-in-the-dark production that brings the noted author-illustrator’s classic picture books to life. Then on March 23, “Morgan’s Journey” the longest touring theatrical production in Canadian history arrives, bringing an engaging, and intensively audience-interactive story of a clowns journey of self-discovery to the kids.

You don’t have to be a dance expert to enjoy the rousing annual performance from the National Dance Institute (NDI). All of the performers are under 18. This year’s performance features work based on Stevie Wonder’s life, with original choreography based on “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” “Overjoyed” and “For Once in My Life,” plus more. Then, on January 13, Stam-Pede dazzles the crowd with swiftly percussive footwork from six celebrated dance companies. The Just Kidding season is capped on April 28 by a rousing performance of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s “Uptown,” performed by Ailey veteran Amos Machanic and guest artists from the Ailey School.

Thalia Kids’ Book Club
Kids (mostly ages 9 to 12) who love to read will find several exciting activities planned for the 2012-13 season. The always popular Thalia Kids’ Book Club includes lively discussions between children’s book authors and their fans, co-presented with the Bank Street Bookstore. This year’s series begins on October 18 with author Annie Barrows talking about her best-selling Ivy and Bean series. Then on October 21, teens ages 14 and up will hear Libba Bray talk about her forthcoming murder mystery novel set in New York City: The Diviners. On October 24, Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, the mysterious author of A Series of Unfortunate Events, talks about his brand new series All the Wrong Questions, which hits stores on October 23. Rebecca Stead, the Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me, discusses her achingly real and laugh-out-loud funny new novel about the challenges of seventh grade: Liar & Spy, on November 4th.

Kids who love making videos as much as they love books will want to check out the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival at Symphony Space on December 2. The event will be hosted by the festival’s co-creator James Kennedy and the hilarious Jon Scieszka (The Stinky Cheese Man) with special guest appearances by Kate DiCamillo, author of the Newbery award-winner The Tale of Despereaux and Rita Williams-Garcia, author of the Newbery honor book One Crazy Summer. Young filmmakers may enter their home-made films by November 10th; get details at http://www.90secondnewbery.com).

A February 3rd Book Club event will draw fans of Harriet the Spy; author Kirsten Miller (Kiki Strike) leads a group of mysterious writers in a lively discussion of one of the best girl detectives ever to race around in children’s fiction. More Kids’ Book Club events will be scheduled soon, according to Katherine Minton, Director of Literary Programs.

During the school year, Symphony Space also provides multicultural and multidisciplinary arts education programs to thousands of elementary and middle schools in the tri-state area, deploying scores of performing and visual artists to work with students through the Global Arts Program. For more information about how to enlist a local school in the program, visit http://www.symphonyspace.org/education or call 212.864.1414 x221.

Symphony Space is located at 2537 Broadway at 95th Street in Manhattan, NYC. Ticket prices range from $13 to $25, with significant discounts available for members and season subscribers. To learn more about this season’s performers, play songs, watch videos and get updates about family programs at Symphony Space, visit http://www.symphonyspace.org/genre/family or call 212 864-1212 ext. 247.

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Beth Blenz-Clucas
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