In our inaugural 2019/20 year we focused on delivering the KITS program to all publicly funded elementary schools in Aurora free of charge. This includes schools in York Catholic District School Board, York Region District School Board, and Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir, funded generously through the Town of Aurora, the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Seed Grant, and individual donors including a major gift from Aurora residents Isobel Ralston & Jan Oudenes.
In 2019/2020 we featured incredible music, dance and puppetry performances. To learn more about the performances offered in our inaugural year please read below. To skip directly to to a specific performance please click the corresponding links below.
Plastique (en français)
Plastic (in English)
Puppet & Object Theatre Performance
Available in English or French
Touring Dates: October 22 – 25, 2019
In 2019/20 year this performance and workshop was offered at Northern Lights PS, Lester B. Pearson PS, ÉÉC Saint-Jean, and Wellington PS reaching 762 students and 37 teachers plus another 92 students in workshops presented.
What is more surprising than a plastic bag world where funny and colorful creatures are born and transform themselves as much as they like!
They fill themselves, they empty themselves again, they fly, they eat each other, they are bored…they exist. Step by step, as their personalities emerge, they reveal their nature. They are primitive, naive and fun – and perhaps they resemble us just a little bit. Remaining faithful to its artistic approach, Puzzle Théâtre offers a multicoloured performance with unusual puppets, humor and unexpected situations.
A timely and topical discussion that is particularly embraced by youth, Plastic/Plastique allows for a dialogue on conservation and the environment through a creative, arts-based lens.
Puzzle Théâtre was founded in Bulgaria in 1996, then moved across the Atlantic to its new home base in Montreal in 2004. The two-person artistic team of Pavla Mano and Csaba Raduly bring a unique theatrical approach to object and puppetry theatre, exploring the relationship between the actor and the puppet, and encouraging the audience to engage in a rich and imaginative process that invites questions, curiosity and wonder. Puzzle Théâtre has toured extensively across Canada and around the world, including the Chicago International Puppet Festival, Shanghai Int’l Children’s Art Theatre, Int’l Puppet Festival in Czech Republic, and the Festival of Silliness in Yellowknife.
- Environment, ecology
- Civic engagement
Making Puppets: Pavla & Csaba lead a group in the creation of puppets using plastic bags and other scraps to decorate the puppet and make it come to life. Then students learn to create a story with their puppet by giving it a personality and voice and having it interact with their classmates’ puppets!
Yamo! Yamo! Greetings from West Africa! /
Yamo! Yamo! Une aventure culturelle en Côte d’Ivoire
Music & Dance Performance
Available in English or French, or as a bilingual performance
Touring Dates: November 19 – 22, 2019
In 2019/20 year this performance and workshop was offered at St. Joseph CES, Aurora Grove PS, Our Lady of Grace CES, and Devins Drive PS reaching 943 students and 51 teachers, plus another 231 students in workshops presented.
“Yamo! Yamo!” (“Hello! How are you doing!” in Baoulé) from the charismatic ambassador of West African culture! In this dynamic and interactive performance, Fana Soro, a hereditary master musician of the Senoufo people, shares the musical traditions of his home country to showcase the soaring melodies, driving rhythms and spirited dances of ancient West African performing arts. A fun and interactive performance, Yamo! Yamo! involves call-and-response and audience participation.
Fana Soro is a musician, dancer and educator from the Ivory Coast, where he was a member of the prestigious Ballet National de Côte d’Ivoire. He is the creative director of the performance group Masabo in Vancouver. Since 1997, Fana has been a cultural ambassador for West Africa, bringing his vast experience of engaging students to over a hundred Canadian schools every year. Fana Soro lives with his family in Ottawa.
- Music, dance and percussion instruments of West Africa
- French cultures around the world
Fana Soro’s workshop in West African Music & Dance offers a flexible structure which is tailored to the school’s needs (all dance, all music, or a combination of the two to give the students a taste of everything.) As a master percussionist, Fana introduces traditional playing techniques of the djembé, West Africa’s most popular drum, as well as other hand-held percussion instruments. Fana shares call and response in various languages native to northern Ivory Coast.
From Handel to Hip Hop
Beatboxing String Trio
Touring Dates: February 4 – 7, 2020
In 2019/20 year this performance and workshop was offered at Highview PS, Light of Christ CES, Holy Spirit CES, and St. Jerome CES reaching 825 students and 37 teachers, plus another 124 students in workshops presented.
Vancouver-based beat-boxing string trio Infinitus’s production of “From Handel to Hip Hop” features a repertoire ranging from classical standards to original jazz/hip-hop arrangements. An original performance that focuses on the differences between listening and hearing skills to illustrate various elements of classical music, this dynamic trio engages every audience member with music ranging from familiar classics to rock, and from TV theme songs to hip-hop beatboxing. Drawing on their vast repertoire, the group tailors each performance to the age range of their audience while engaging students with their easygoing and interactive stage presence.
Infinitus was formed in 2008 by violist Anthony Cheung, cellist Alex Cheung, and violinist John “Adidam” Littlejohn. Collectively, the members hold degrees from the University of Michigan and the Peabody Conservatory and have won awards at the local, national, and international level. They have performed extensively throughout North America presenting community performances, soloing with orchestras, and conducting masterclasses, workshops, and seminars. The trio has captivated over 900 schools throughout Canada and the United States with their polished, upbeat introduction to instrumental music.
- Music, Music Appreciation, Feelings
Infinitus leads the class in the creation of their own song, complete with thoughtful lyrics and a dynamic beat. Students collaborate on putting together a poem that has a theme, rhyming words, and an overall message. Then students stand in a circle and perform their completed piece, a truly group experience.
The Incredible Adventures of Mary Jane Mosquito
Touring Dates: April 6 – 9, 2020 Postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic
Provisionally scheduled for 2020/2021
We were unable to deliver this production due to the coronavirus pandemic. Schools unable to receive programming in 2019-2020 will receive first right of refusal of all 2020-2021 programming.
In this story of a misfit searching for her place in the world, Mary Jane is a mosquito who doesn’t have wings. At home in Petit Petit Le Paw she is teased by the other mosquitos, who won’t be friends with her. She is sent off to school, and then to live with her auntie in the city, as she searches for a place where she can fit in and make friends. After many adventures, Mary Jane learns to make friends sharing her language, her kind heart, and her songs with the world.
This musical show explores themes of feeling like an outsider, dealing with bullying, moving to a new place, and feeling different from what is considered normal. As Mary Jane tells her tale through song and story, Tomson Highway has woven in Cree words and phrases that are taught to the audience through playful interaction. With live music throughout, and supported with puppetry and fanciful costumes, this is an engaging piece for younger audiences.
About the Playwright Tomson Highway, award-winning playwright and the author, was born in a tent near Maria Lake, Manitoba in 1951. A member of the Cree Nation, he is a registered member of the Barren Lands First Nation, the village for which is called Brochet. He grew up in the spectacularly beautiful natural landscape that is Canada’s sub-Arctic, an un-peopled region of hundreds of lakes, endless forests of spruce and pine, and great herds of caribou. His parents, with no access to books, TV or radio, would tell their children stories, and Tomson fell in love with the oral tradition of storytelling. Internationally recognized and beloved for his play The Rez Sisters, Tomson Highway was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1994.
Carousel Players is an award-winning professional theatre company for young audiences based in the Niagara. Guided by their mandate: “We believe live theatre develops artistic awareness, learning skills and a sense of well-being in children,” their work is committed to ensuring that young people engage with theatre, and how it transfers into their everyday lives.
- First Nations languages, visual arts, storytelling
Carousel Players, together with their Play Links arts facilitator, offer adaptable school workshops around the themes of Indigenous languages, visual arts and social studies. Workshops can be adapted for grades JK – 4.
Evaluation of the Program
As part of our commitment to our donors and granting organizations, as well as for overall organizational learning, the Aurora Cultural Centre contracted Hill Strategies, a widely respected organization across Canada and internationally as a leading authority on arts and culture research to conduct a feedback survey on our behalf for our inaugural 2019/20 year. The survey’s goal was to gain an understanding of the KITS program’s impacts on students, the usefulness of the study guide and professional development workshops, the strengths and challenges of the delivery model, and any unforeseen barriers to student participation.
KITS Final Report
Hill Strategies findings for the 2019/2020 season were compiled into a Kaleidoscope in the Schools Final Report. The PDF report can be read in full below. Use the controls at the bottom of the PDF viewer to enlarge, zoom in/out or download to view later.
Press & Media Information
January 15, 2021
Kaleidoscope in the Schools Pilot Year Success
Aurora Cultural Centre program brings fully-funded arts experiences to local schools