A Look at AIR’s Online Spring Performance Intensive Program

Last Sunday, we recognized participants of our spring Performance Intensive program with a virtual showcase celebration! Teens had the option to invite family and friends to the event, so there were lots of new faces in attendance. As is customary at AIR program sessions, we began the celebration with a group check-in! Teens, artists, and staff were instructed to share something they enjoyed about the program, while guests were asked to share who they were there to support. After check-in, artistic staff, director Katie Juster and choreographer Sarah Duclos, provided an overview of the projects we explored in the program: puppetry, monologue, and choreography. 

Next, came the main event – the final performance video! This was the first time our teens had seen their performance footage post-production, and even though we were meeting on Zoom, the excitement was palpable! Afterward, teens received an abundance of applause for their creative accomplishments in the program, their courage to try something new, and their bravery to share work in a new way – online! Katie also read each teen’s name aloud so that they could be recognized individually. We then opened our certificate packages as a group, which were mailed to participants a week prior. Our showcase ended with a final salutation to all in attendance, and a group cheer: “celebration!” 

Our spring Performance Intensive was originally to be held as a 5-day school vacation program before social distancing efforts, and April vacation cancellations by area schools, moved it online. We adapted, and restructured the program to meet two evenings a week for 90 minutes, for six sessions total. Prior to the start of the program, AIR staff prepared sanitized supply packages and delivered them to participants’ doorsteps, so that teens would have all the necessary materials for projects (as well as healthy snacks and AIR stickers!). 

Our teaching artists, Katie and Sarah, fully embraced our move to the virtual realm and created entirely new projects to suit. For each session, they alternated facilitating a warmup or game, and instructing a creative workshop. 

Katie’s curriculum explored puppetry and monologue. In a project called, “Justifying the Camera,” teens created characters that would be using a camera for a specific reason. Characters were assigned names and locations, and we devoted time in-session toward writing and recording a 6-10 sentence monologue from their perspective. Inspired by “Zoots,” and one Australian family’s journey to reclaim joy, our teens also created puppets from paper bags. The puppets served as bookends in our final showcase video, welcoming viewers to the performance, and thanking them for their time at the end. The monologue project introduced concepts of character development, and the puppetry project cemented those skills for our teens. For one of Katie’s warmups, she instructed us to have our puppets introduce themselves and share what they had for breakfast that morning. The teens didn’t have much time to solidify answers to these questions, but their responses were quick, confident, and humorous! 

Sarah designed a movement-based project inspired by the collaborative Surrealist drawing game, Cadavre exquis, or exquisite corpse. Each teen created a short series of choreography with a piece of fabric, and their dances were strung together into a single-sequence video. Teens incorporated the actions of “catching” and “throwing” the fabric in their dance, which served as the unifying element. To help our teens develop their choreography, Sarah led a series of workshops instilling the foundational elements of dance. We learned how to make linear, angular, and combination shapes with our body, and how to travel and transition in our shapes. We learned how to implement levels in our shapes, considering how and where those shapes occupy space. Lastly we learned how to organize our movements, by building phrases of dance in “ABA” or symmetrical form. 

Click here to watch our final performance video! 

Katie and Sarah will be back this summer to teach our online TheatreWorks program! Click here for more information.

Theatre director Katie Juster facilitating a puppet workshop

Choreographer Sarah Duclos leading us through a “5-4-3-2-1” mindfulness warmup

AIR teen Bayleigh greeting our group with her puppet!

AIR teen Zoey’s slithering snake puppet!

Mikel and her puppet, “Remus.”

Our group cheering for program participants, after watching the final video!

Congratulations to our 2020 Performance Intensive teens! Thank you for sharing your creativity with us!

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