By Frank Lewis
It isn’t every day when kids can have fun and learn something at the same time, but that is exactly what the order of the day was during the Southern Ohio Museum and Cultural Center’s (SOMACC) annual art camp, aptly titled SmArt Camp the week of July 21-25. Artistic Director Charlotte Gordon said students took various art classes including both performing and visual arts.
The camp was taught by Emily Uldrich, museum educator; Sami Matthew, Cirque d’Art Instructor; Joseph Pratt, guest performing arts instructor; Gordon and Pegi Wilkes, Cirque d’Art Director. Guest musician Steve Free also participated, providing two concerts for the students and giving them lessons on audience etiquette.
The goal of SmArt Camp, built around the theme, “Circle of Life,” in which students were involved in lesson plans and performances designed around jungle animals, is to provide students with a well rounded, quality education centered on all aspects of art.
In the theatre classes, students learned the basics of the stage and focused on how to break down and analyze a character for better acting and character development. They chose an animal they would find in the African jungle and then designed a character based on that animal. They were asked to draw a picture of what their animal looked like and write a biography about it. They then learned to move like their animal and applied characteristics of it’s designed personality.
Students created characters from lions, cheetahs, wild dogs, ligers, bears, warthogs, elephants and zebras.
In the art classes, the students took what they learned in theatre and designed a paper mâché mask on their animal. They then painted the masks to fit it’s personality.
In circus classes, students were taught basic acrobatic skills, role playing Tarzan for the jungle theme, balance and climbing on circus scaffolding and catwalks. The circus classes even offered instructions in critical thinking and life skills on manipulating space and getting out of theoretical dangerous situations.
“A performance isn’t typically scheduled into SmArt Camp,” Gordon said. She said it is something she would like to keep up, because she said it was a positive experience for everyone. Students performed an intro scene to popular jungle-themed music while wearing their animal masks. Each student had a role and let their personalities shine, from the sleepy warthog, to the angsty liger and the predatory cheetah. The students wrapped up performances with a rhythmic stick routine to an upbeat jungle song, where the students learned the complicated revolutions in circus class.
SmArt Camp is held each year in July. Museum staff will spend the early months of summer working and planning for their camp theme. The museum will post information on enrollments early next summer for interested parents.
Frank Lewis can be reached at 740-353-3101, Ext. 1928, or on Twitter @FrankLewispdt.