A 4-year-old painter gets her first solo exhibition in New York

BBC News, 6/5/11

Artist Aelita Andre might only be four years old, but that has not stopped her opening her first art exhibition in New York.  She is said to be the youngest ever professional artist with nine of her paintings on show at the Agora Gallery, in Manhattan, already selling, with pieces priced up to $9,900 (6,000) each.  Angela Di Bello, the director at the gallery, said Aelita had already developed a style of her own.  Her parents, Nikka Kalashnikova and Michael Andre, who are also artists, both agree that their daughter's art has an innocence to it. 

            > Watch a short video profile here.


Commentary: How 8-year-old dance critics put me to shame

Judith Mackrell, The Guardian Theatre Blog, 6/7/11

When I was asked to participate in a project involving primary school children I was in unknown terrain. When I was eight years old I didn't even know what a dance critic was. But the team behind "Seeing, Doing, Knowing" - a programme attached to the Norfolk & Norwich festival - knew exactly what they were doing. They spent careful time in the classroom guiding the children through how to think about what they were seeing, and how to write about it. By the time I came to Norwich the reviews had been written and my job was to talk about them, and about dance criticism with the children.  Kids take no prisoners. Long before we got on to the subjects of writing or dance, they wanted to know how old I was, how much I earned, what kind of car I drove, what I liked to drink - whether, indeed, any of my friends laughed at me for being a journalist!  But they wanted to know serious things, too, like why I loved certain shows or certain dancers, and how I felt when I gave bad reviews. And some of [their] writing was wildly, charmingly and impressively original.  The discipline of discussing [the] show, paying close attention to it and trying to capture it in words had clearly given them a genuine sense of ownership over what they had seen.  I don't know if I inspired any of them to want to become critics (though a few promised to enter this year's Guardian young arts critic competition, launching later this month.)  But some of them definitely sounded as if they wanted to go back to the theatre for more.

> Read extracts from the students' reviews here


Commentary: The intrinsic impact of theater and art on a shy 11-year-old

Clayton Lord, ArtsJournal blog New Beans, 6/6/11

This past Saturday, I [interviewed] an 11-year-old theatregoer named Sydni as part of the research into the intrinsic impact of art we are conducting at Theatre Bay Area, interviews with a small group of theatre patrons to understand why they go to theatre, why they value it, and what it means to them.  Sydni does love theatre, that's clear.  She has seen Wicked eight times in her short life.  On the wall of her bedroom hangs what can only be described as a small shrine to the show. This is a girl who not only saw her own middle school's play, but also the local high school's play and two local elementary school plays.  She says she likes theatre, plans on seeing more theatre as she grows up, plans on [working on] productions (backstage). And yet for all that, her shyness forces short answers, monosyllables spoken into her chest.  What was meant to be an hour-long interview is done in half that.  As we begin to pack up, her stepfather suggests that Sydni show us some of her artwork. She perks up, bringing out spot-on line drawings of Disney characters, detailed geometric abstractions, forced-perspective drawings of cities and towns, and beautiful, bold color-block drawings of her cats that are as strangely vibrant as they are accurate.  Her mom says that the art allows her to express what she's not able to say.  When I told Sydni how talented she was, she beamed into her chest, turned, and disappeared.  I hope that, when she's older, Sydni is able to articulate what those eight trips to Oz meant to her, how they molded her, what memories they made.  But maybe she won't be able to.  All the same, it's good to know a shy kid has found her outlet, and through art she has been able to throw into the world a little of what's inside her awkward smile.


Commentary: The world's most family-friendly orchestra

Norman Lebrecht, ArtsJournal blog Slipped Disc, 6/7/11

Das Orchester, the monthly magazine for German musicians and management, has come out with a fascinating issue on how players and orchestras in the 21st century balance the needs of performance and childcare.  The place to play, if you have kids, is Stuttgart, where the state theatre offers all staff members a daycare centre for kids, open 7am to 8pm, and happy to upload your infants for units of an hour at a time while the harassed parent runs off to see to his or her hair, nails, strings, shopping or new best friend.  Stuttgart is probably the world leader in the family field, but Nuremburg, Zwickau and some parts of Berlin are not far behind. Daniel Barenboim has apparently set up a music kindergarten for allcomers that keeps the little blighters rehearsing while the parents relax.  The Mahler Chamber Orchestra, where most players are young-marrieds, some to each other, limits their playing requirement to 50 percent of all concerts, thus allowing them quality time with the next generation.  All very enlightened. When will we see the same in other countries?


A series of arts education guides for parents

ArtsJournal blog Dewey 21C, 6/

The last in a series of Arts Education Guides for Parents [have been released] in English and Spanish, and for the earlier grades, a number of other languages.  Next up?  Adapting these local guides for use nationally...(Of course, we will have to think a bit about whether or not to include the tear off card for parents to send to the schools chancellor voicing their support for arts education. That little bit of soft advocacy was all it took for the local school district to decline to promote the parent guides!)  Here are the download links for all the Parent Guides, plus a very good parent toolkit from our partner school, PS 203:

My Child, The Arts, and Learning: A Guide for Parents, Pre-K to Second Grade

Your Child, Your School and the Arts: A Guide for Parents with Children in Grades 3 to 5

Your Child, Your School and the Arts: A Guide for Parents with Children in Grades 6 to 8

Getting the Best High School Arts Education: A Guide for Parents and Students in New York City

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