Artist Brings Theater To Kids

Mark Dykes
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Artist Peter Davison demonstrates a bit of physical theater by showing Grandview Elementary fourth grade students how they might pantomime catching a flying Chihuahua. Davison also gave students a chance to practice their balancing skills with peacock feathers. Students with whom Davison is working this week are invited to join him on stage at his Friday “Tossed and Found” show. (Courtesy Photos)

ALLIANCE — This Friday, a one-of-a-kind show hits the Performing Arts Center stage when Peter Davison presents “Tossed and Found.”
The Boulder, Colo., resident describes the show as a bit of Fred Astaire and Charlie Chaplin, with some juggling thrown in. If that seems a bit on the high-energy side, it is, and Davison has been sharing that energy with fourth grade students at Grandview Elementary and St. Agnes Academy during a residency this week. These same students have the opportunity to show what they’ve learned and join Davison on stage during the main show.
Prior to working with individual classes, Davison showed some of skills at school assemblies Monday.
Tuesday he further introduced one Grandview class to the art of pantomime, interacting with object and elements that aren’t really there, but which must be realized for the audience through silent actions. As part of prepping, Davison also had students imagine they were on stage, and taught them directions such as stage left and stage right.
After they had a basic routine down, Davison switched gears to balancing skills, providing each student a peacock feather, as well as a few basic instructions. Students spent the next several minutes practicing, trying to keep the feathers balanced on foreheads, chins, hands, fingers and toes.
_MG_9926 3 colIn addition to the fun and learning in the classroom, Davison hopes the students get an appreciation, on the artistic level, of forms that are rare these days, and some historic reference. These activities, he said, can engage children’s creativity, and their creative thinking in other areas, as well as teach them about teamwork and spatial awareness.
Davison especially enjoys how student personalities come out, as those who are typically withdrawn can really shine. This can be “a window for their personality,” he said.
As he travels, Davison said what he presents to students tends to evolve as he discovers new ideas. As for working with fourth-graders, he said it’s a great age because the student have a good balance of being open to ideas and having necessary motor skills.
“Tossed and Found” starts tomorrow night at 7 p.m.