Rhythm Play Rocks Our 2nd Floor

Any of our friends that have visited over the past month have seen that there are many changes afoot on our 2nd floor!

Some of our exhibit spaces have been evolving in to our new attraction, called Rhythm Play. Currently, we have two new areas dedicated.

Please check the photos of our big community-sized drum, large enough for several hands to play at once. Also, we are just launching our new Capoeira exhibit. Never heard of Capoeira? It’s a fascinating combination of dance, music, martial art, and athleticism that has its origins in Brazil. Check out this video of a local capoeira group. So cool!

Meet Nyiesha!

Nyiesha leads a class in belly dance. Photo by Roger S. Duncan.
Nyiesha leads a class in belly dance. Photo by Roger S. Duncan.

If you stopped by the Museum & Theatre on a Sunday this fall, you may have had a chance to dance it out with Nyiesha, a longtime friend of the Museum & Theatre. Starting in January, Nyiehsa will bring her international dance training to a new six-week class called Dance around the World. (The class starts Thursday, January 9 and is for ages 5 & up. No dance experience required, but pre-registration is – sign up here or at 828-1234 x231.)

Nyiesha has been entertaining since she was eight years old. She started on the stage singing in her mother’s fashion shows, and branched out into modeling, acting and then dance.

The stage has always been her passion, so persuing a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts and Dance at California State University of Los Angeles was the most natural path in developing her craft. A fire was ignited in her soul when Adam Basma first introduced her to Middle Eastern Dance in the year 2000. Before long she was dancing with two of Los Angeles’ most revered Middle Eastern dance companies, Adam Basma and Flowers of the Desert.

Nyiesha has had the privilege of dancing her way around the country  in venues such as the MGM Grand, Wrigley Field, Soldier Field and the Hollywood Bowl. Samba also became a passion after living in Brazil for three years, she loves inspiring others with her samba steps at parties and special events. Middle Eastern and Samba dance drives her to be an inspirational performance educator. 

Want to know a little more about Nyiesha? Here’s a quick Q&A:

Where are you from? Los Angeles, CA

What do you like to do in your free time?  Read

Why are you excited to be at the Museum & Theatre? I LOVE working with children in a positive and creative atmosphere.

What is one interesting thing about you that other people might not know? I have a tea pot collection.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why? Teleportation, because I love to travel! I would have tea in London, pasta in Rome, crepes in Paris, and watch the sunset in Machu Picchu whenever I want and visit my family every day.

What Makes A Witch

“Hello, darling Hansel,” says a Witch (Sierra) in a monologue based on a statue she created this week.  “We have some yummy work to do.”

Well!  Witches sound pretty menacing.  But what does a witch look like? Sound like? Move like?

How can you tell if someone is a witch?

Our actors warn of a few signs to watch out for: scary cackle, white hair pulled back in a bun, bad breath, skin as tough as bark… these are only a few signs that children walking alone in the woods should watch out for, according to our recent playmaking brainstorm sessions.

Hansel and Gretel had better be careful.

Though the woman may at first appear harmless, she soon locks up Hansel, and orders poor Gretel to help fatten him up for roasting.  Our actors wrote scenes and songs, and created still images and dances to tell of the scary things happening inside that tempting candy house.

“Why dance?” you may ask.  Aren’t we writing a script?

Well, as they say, a picture may be worth a thousand words… if this is true, dances speak volumes.  In a silent dance, we see nothing but raw emotion. We see the Witch’s hunger, Hansel’s despair, Gretel’s dilemma; all of these are key to setting the right scene for the story we want to tell.

We are able to see how Hansel moves, how Gretel frets… and just what does a witch look like again?

Sam and Aiden help to transform Sierra into a Witch statue.

Actors help each other embody the characters in still image montages.  This week, we saw frozen scenes of the Witch taking Hansel to his cage, and dances to get the playmakers moving and looking like hungry witches and frightened (yet resourceful) children.

We know that Gretel will soon save the day, but that part remains yet to be written!  Now that we have an idea of what our witch looks like, thinks like, sounds and smells like, we can figure out exactly what Gretel and her brother must do to outwit her!

One more week of playmaking to go – let’s see that script start to take shape!

Brittany Cook has been working with the Children’s Museum & Theatre of Maine since 2011. She has served as Musical Director, scoring and playing the original music for our mainstage productions, and she has worn many other hats as well! Brittany will direct our fall production of Hansel & Gretel.

Read more of Brittany’s posts about the playmaking process here.