Tag Archives: Japanese Friendship Garden

You had me at “cherry tree”

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There’s a small parking lot at the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts that’s covered with yellow blossoms these days — dropped from the Palo Verde trees that bring a splash of color to the desert each spring. I’ve taken to imagining these trees are cherry blossoms, picturing them in pink instead of yellow, because I’m still learning to love the Arizona landscape — but cherry blossoms have always tugged at my heart.

I saw the season’s first cherry tree blossom inside the Brooklyn Botanic Garden earlier this month and get wistful for Washington, D.C. each time the cherry blossoms emerge. So when I learned that a new theater work titled “Sakura no Ne” (“Root of the Cherry Tree”) included footage of trees in bloom, I knew I had to see it. Folks who feel the same have just one more opportunity (April 22 at 2pm) to see the family-friendly production being performed at Theater Works in Peoria.

“Sakura no Ne” is part multi-media production, part performance art, part morality tale and part homage to the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix (along with sister city Himeji in Japan). At times it has the feel of a fine work of theater for children. Other times it reads like a Japan-inspired version of “Riverdance” or “Stomp.” Everything about it is lovely, but it may need a bit more pruning as it evolves to reach wider audiences.

Children in the audience Saturday afternoon clearly loved the humor, drumming, martial arts component and digital projections. The 80-minute show also features diverse dance elements rarely scene on Valley stages. I chatted with a couple after the show, eager to see whether a storm scene filled with lightning and a fire-breathing serpent had scared their preschool-age son. “This is the first time he’s sat through an entire show,” they told me.

“Sakura no No” is the work of playwright Soji Kashiwagi (of Grateful Crane Ensemble) and music composer Scott Nagatani.  It’s directed by Dominik Rebilas. “Sakura no Ne” is produced by Yoshi Kumagai (who also serves as art director and fight choreographer) and Ken Koshio (who also serves as music director), sponsored by the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix and funded by a Sundome Performing Arts Association grant. Kumagai shared with me after the show that they’re hoping to present the work in additional Valley venues.

The show’s most dramatic element is drumming by Ken Koshio in the role of Ikazuchi (Thunder God). The cast also includes John Tang (Taro “Tama” Yamazajura), Urashima Taro, Old Man), Dale Nakagawa (Justin, Sea Turtle) and Sandy Harris (Haley, Sea Princess, Crane). Most delicate is Koshio’s title song, sung in Japanese and English with harmonica and guitar. I also enjoyed creations by Zarko Guerrero (mask and turtle outfit) and Derrick Suwaima Davis (crane feather outfit).

“Sakura no Ne” follows the adventures of two tween-age siblings — a boy rarely parted from his Nintendo and a girl attached to her cell phone. Think “I’m so bored” and “O-M-G.” They’re left one day at the Japanese Friendship Garden by parents hoping they’ll find a bit of bliss. But the pair finds something more — a renewed appreciation for nature, family and community. Even each other.

The simple storyline is punctuated by music, dance and martial arts performance. There’s traditional Japanese dance featuring Mari Kaneta (whose choreography and dance I enjoyed with daughter Lizabeth during the 1996 Arizona Opera production of “Madama Butterfly”), taiko drumming by Fushicho Daiko and Jakara, martial arts by a trio from Arizona Aikiko and dance by the ASU Japanese Student Association’s Soran Bushi Dancers. It all comes together in the service of a single message.

Only the cherry tree’s strong roots make its beautiful blossoms possible.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about “Strolling in Yukata” (taking place April 28 at the Japanese Friendship Garden) and here to learn about a new musical titled “Allegiance” (which explores the World War II experiences of a Japanese-American family).

Coming up: Another tree tale, Don’t cry for me Shakespeare?

I’d rather be…

It's "Plan B" time as a bout of bronchitis has me reading "Blue Like Jazz" and watching the "Olivier Awards" online during a weekend I'd hoped to spend at Valley theaters

I did something last week that surely shocked the folks who know me really well. After learning the second leg of my Southwest flight between Newark and Phoenix was delayed, I ended up spending another night in NYC. Too frugal to pop for another night at a hotel, the wheels started turning. What to do with an extra night in NYC?

Too tired for Springsteen? That should have been my first clue.

I remembered that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band were performing at Madison Square Gardens, and daughter Lizabeth quickly jumped online to discover that StubHub tickets were posted for prices lower than your average hotel room.

Then things got really weird — becaused I just didn’t have the oomph to get up and go. I love me some Bruce and the band, and was especially eager to see young musicians in his new brass section rock the house, but figured hiking all those arena stairs might be the death of me. (There are worse ways to go, but “gone” is one place I’d rather not be.)

Lizabeth suggested other options more suitable for a mom still recovering from recent knee surgery, including mother-daughter craft time at Make Meaning – but decided to save that adventure for her summer back home since the NYC-based company also has a Scottsdale Quarter location — which buys us more time to choose between glass, soap, jewelry, paper, candles, ceramics and other creative options.

Folks in Arizona can enjoy the Tribeca Film Festival online

We ended up taking the subway to Tribeca — where this year’s Tribeca Film Festival (which has an online component for folks like me who can’t get to the NYC event) opens in just a few days. We enjoyed a splendid stoll, stopping at some her favorite NYC haunts — including Strand Book Store, where I wistfully admired the black and white photo of Springsteen she’d spotted weeks before on a postcard rack near the entrance.

Also dinner at a diner with festive orange and yellow walls that’s called “S’MAC” because the only dish they serve is macaroni and cheese. Think oodles of noodles delivered skillet-style in endless gourmet variations. When I texted James to tell him where we’d landed, he shot back a brief “How hipster of you” reply. I quickly responded in praise of sporting a vocab that includes “hipster.”

Let's hope someone tells the Mother's Day fairy about this baby

I wasn’t hip enough, apparently, because I’d forgotten that it was my last chance to see Simon Callow perform Jonathan Bate’s “Being Shakepeare” at the Brooklyn Music Academy – which prides itself on being America’s oldest performing arts center (think 1861). Silly, really, considering that my last trip to NYC opened with a glorious exploration of Keith Haring works exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum.

After dropping Lizabeth off at her dorm after dinner, I played “musical Starbucks” until the last of them located near Pace University shut out the lights. I was ready to move on after enduring far too many boisterous barista solos. I hailed a cab for the Newark airport, where I snagged the lone electrical outlet at a Dunkin’ Donuts and curbed the urge to indulge as the smell of freshly baked glazed goodies wafted through the air. It beat sleeping on the floor.

I landed at Sky Harbor Airport just as James was hopping a flight to NYC for his turn at Liz time, but realized later that day that pulling the all-nighter was a serious mistake. I was pooped, and in the early stages of the bronchitis that now finds me bedbound during a weekend I’d hoped to enjoy nearly back-to-back shows from a long list of options.

Think Childsplay’s “Tomas the the Library Lady,” Theater Works’ “All Through the Night” and/or “Sakura no Ne” (a collaboration with the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix), Cookie Company’s “Charlotte’s Web,” Valley Youth Theatre’s “Freckleface Strawberry,” Rising Arts’ “Sleeping Beauty,” and Desert Stages Theatre’s “Altar Boyz” and/or “How to Succeed in Business Without Even Trying.” They’re all places I’d rather be at this point — but nobody wants to sit by the constant cougher, it’s never nice to share such things.

I'm rooting for RSC and Roald Dahl while watching the Olivier Awards online

Instead, I’ve developed a bit of a plan B. Watching streaming video of Britain’s Olivier Awards, especially eager to see how the Royal Shakespeare Company’s “Matilda the Musical” (based on the book by Roald Dahl) fares. Cuddling up with Donald Miller’s “Blue Like Jazz” and Paul Torday’s “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen” (hoping I’ll bounce back enough this week to catch them on the big screen). And reading online guides for upcoming productions like “Red” (Arizona Theater Company) and “Much Ado About Nothing” (Southwest Shakespeare Company).

Those of you with more bounce in your step can find plenty of ways to enjoy the rest of your weekend by exploring the Raising Arizona Kids calendar in print or online. If you experience an especially nifty concert, art exhibit, dance performance or show — feel free to comment below to let our readers know.

– Lynn

Coming up: Art meets Earth Day, Musings on Mental Health Month

Note: Remember too that you can explore a comprehensive list of summer camps on the Raising Arizona Kids magazine website — click here to find this and other resources for readers. (Final shameless plug — Subsciptions to Raising Arizona Kids magazine make easy, practical and affordable Mother’s Day gifts.)

Get out, get art!

After hitting just a single night of this year’s “Phoenix Film Festival,” I’m giving serious thought to running away from home. Not forever. Just through next Thursday when the festival comes to a close. With so many amazing offerings, it seems silly to drive back and forth from theater to laundry room and such.

All sorts of things caught my eye on this weekend’s festival schedule — including a free “Kids’ Day” for families presented by IFP Phoenix from 9am-2pm on Sat, March 31 (where you can also see three family films for just $5 each — including “Chimpanzee” from Disney at 1:05pm).

Also high school shorts, college shorts, animated shorts, a silent auction, a preview of Phoenix Comicon 2012 and plenty of live performance art by folks from Scorpius Dance Theatre to Carol Pacey & the Honey Shakers. Even workshops on topics like “Casting Indies” and “Life as an Indie Actor.”

A film titled “Kerry and Angie” that’s part of a Saturday morning “Arizona Showcase” is directed by Amanda Melby, head coach and owner at Verve Studios in Scottsdale — one of many performing arts groups to participate in this year’s RAK Camp Fair. Folks who attend the Actors Theatre production of “Body Awareness” at the Herberger Theater Center will get to see Melby in action.

Those seeking more family-friendly fare have another great option in the “Children’s Day & Kite Festival” taking place Sat, March 31 from 10am-3pm at the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix – which features martial arts, games, food, face painting and other activities. Families are invited to wear kimonos and bring a kite along (or make kites during the festival). Best they not offer kimono-making. I would only embarrass myself.

Fans of Rodgers & Hammerstein can enjoy a double dose of musical theater this weekend as Greasepaint Youtheatre performs “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” and The Phoenix Symphony performs “An Evening with Rodgers & Hammerstein” (don’t let the name “fool” you — Sunday’s show is actually a matinee). The latter is a collaboration with Phoenix Theatre featuring direction by Michael Barnard and a collection of vocalists that bears a startling resemblance to my list of favorite people.

Your last chance to see the Scottsdale Community College production of “The Miracle Worker” by William Gibson is Sat, March 31 at 2pm and 7:30pm – and I happen to know first hand that at least one of the show’s young actors is cuter than the dickens. If acting is hereditary, she’s also rocking her role.

– Lynn

Note: Family-friendly activities are always available in print and online calendars from Raising Arizona Kids magazine.

Coming up: Two of the most imporant hours of my life

Theater works

Happy campers participating in Youth Works Academy through Theater Works in Peoria, which hosts a free Summer Camp Expo this Saturday

Theater works in all sorts of ways. Think jobs, creative outlets for artists, shared experiences for citizens, positive experiences for youth and more.

Theater Works in Peoria is introducing folks to its summer camp options for children and teens this Saturday via their 2nd annual Theater Works Summer Camp Expo, which features drama-related activities for children and the opportunity to talk with Theater Works youth program staff about summer camp options for preschoolers through teens.

More fun with Youth Works Academy

The Sat, March 31 event takes place from 11am-1pm. Admission is free, and lunch (think hot dogs) is included. Sometimes theater works for tummies too. Folks who attend can enter for the chance to win a pair of silver passes to Castles N’ Coasters. If you’re game, just RSVP by March 30 to Athena Hunting at 623.815.1791 ext. 107. Theater Works, by the way, is located at 8355 W. Peoria Ave.

Theater works as well in forming community collaborations, like the Theater Works partnership with Ro Ho En (the Japanese Friendship Garden) in Phoenix to present “Sakura no Ne” (“Root of the Cherry Tree”) April 13-22. Also in helping us reflect on historical events and their meaning for our lives. Hence the April 13-May 13 Theater Works production of “All Through the Night,” a play inspired by stories of German gentile women during and after the Third Reich.

Jay meets giggling girls during Youth Works Academy

Theater Works recently unveiled their 2012/13 season, which opens with “Doubt” and wraps up with “Accomplice.” In between, there’s everything from “The Music Man” and “A Christmas Carol” to “Burning in the Night: A Hobo’s Song” and “Musical of Musicals.” This season’s “A Little Night Music” opens tomorrow night — Wed, March 28.

When you hit this Saturday’s Theater Works Summer Camp Expo, be sure and ask about other ways they’re making theater work for youth — from theater workshops and classes to puppet shows and special programs for homeschool students.

When theater works, we’re all better for it.

– Lynn

Note: Theater Works is seeking designers for the 2012/13 season — and Robyn Allen is accepting resumes at rallen@theaterworks.org. Also, a friendly reminder — The Arizona Governor’s Arts Awards take place tonight, March 27, at the Herberger Theater Center. Click here for details.

Coming up: Fun with freckles!

Brooklyn meets Japan

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The ancient art of origami meets the newer by comparison borough of Brooklyn, where Taro’s Origami Studio lets visitors try their hand at various paper folding projects recommended by ability levels. Basic yellow belt techniques result in the simplest works, like basic cranes or pocket-like cups. Orange belt folks can make more elaborate cranes, and blue belt types fold everything from hearts to dinosaurs and penguins. Achieve purple belt skills and you’ll be folding the likes of frogs and roses.

This was rather disappointing news, since I headed to the studio with grand visions of making gifts to take home for the rest of my family — a heart for my hubby, a frog for my son and a penguin for daughter Jennifer. I hit the studio without my daughter Lizabeth, who studies acting in Manhattan, and cringed when I first suggested the outing. “I’m not very good at origami,” she told me. We’re a perfect pair that way. But she had rehearsals, so I did my solo thing.

I’m eager to experience the art of Japanese paper folding alongside her one day. Living in a burough that bustles non-stop, it’s nice to have places a bit off the beaten path where relaxation is plentiful and art gets personal. NYC is full of grand museums, libraries, galleries and performing arts venues — but it’s just as lovely to explore lesser known haunts.

Turns out there’s another bit of Japanese arts and culture in Brooklyn — the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Japan-related offerings include a Bonsai Museum, Japanese Hill & Pond Garden, and Cherry Esplanade. Folks on cherry blossom watch can consult an online map of the esplanade for updates — though today they’ll find just a single pink flower icon signifying a lone “first bloom.”

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is also home to a Fragrance Garden, Shakespeare Garden, Rock Garden and much more — any of which I’d love to try and replicate in some shady Arizona spaces were my son not such an advocate for xeriscape gardens in the desert. My poor little shamrocks are hanging on for dear life now as it is. Best not to butcher any more blossoms, I suppose.

One day, perhaps, I’ll achieve purple belt status so I can create my own indoor garden of origami botanicals. In the meantime, I’m just trying to master the fine art of sitting still long enough to make that first fold.

– Lynn

Note: You can try your hand at origami thanks to an area at the Mesa Festival of Creativity being presented by Bookmans, and experience the fine art of paper folding at this year’s Children’s Festival at the Japanese Friendship Garden. More photos from Taro’s coming in another couple of days!

Coming up: More fun with origami, One block in Brooklyn, Up close with Rodin, The swing & I

Origami & beyond

I was struck by a series of hanging paper cranes during a recent visit to Poets House in New York City. Origami is the one form of art I simply can’t pass by without pausing — perhaps because it seems the perfect blend of purposeful and playful.

There’s a similar exhibit as you enter the Arizona Museum for Youth in Mesa, inside a foyer that also houses a giant hanging paper crane. Recently I visited the museum with my adult son Christopher, who’s been enjoying the museum with me since he was just knee-high.

We explored the museum’s ArtZone — which currently features an exhibit titled “One Thousand Paper Cranes.” Exhibit materials note that in Japan it’s believed that a wish comes true for the person who folds 1,000 paper origami cranes. 

A sign at the museum invites visitors to fold paper cranes in an effort to secure their wish for world peace — collecting them for shipment to Hiroshima, Japan — where they’ll hang in the Children’s Peace Monument.

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Admirers of Japanese and other Asian art can always find it in the Phoenix Art Museum’s permanent Asian Collection. Its offerings, which can be viewed online, include several Japanese prints and screens.

Phoenix Art Museum holds its next “First Wednesday Asian Gallery Talk” at noon on August 3. It’s free with museum admission or membership.

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix presents a “Museum Encounter” with Bobby Seigetsu Avstreih and the Japanese Shakuhachi Flute at 11:30am and 2:30pm on Aug 6. It’s free with museum admission.

Through Each Others Eyes, an organization that uses photography to promote international understanding, has a photographic exchange exhibit with Japanese photographers. It’s the 17th such exchange between photographers in sister cities Phoenix and Himeji.

The Japanese Friendship Garden (Ro Ho En) in Phoenix, which closes for the summer months, is holding an “Opening Day Celebration” on Oct 1. Their annual “Moonviewing Festival” (Ot sukimi) takes place Oct. 15.

Musical theater fans are keeping an eye on the development of “Allegiance — A New American Musical,” which follows a family touched by the internment of Japanese Americans in parts of the U.S. following the attack on Pearl Harbor. “Allegiance” is described as a work about “love, loss and heroism.”

Cast members include Lea Salonga as Gloria Suzuki, George Takei as Old Sam Omura and Telly Leung as Young Sam Omura. A private workshop was held last week in New York, and the musical will enjoy a world premiere next year at the Old Globe theatre in San Diego.

If you share my love for origami, or you have yet to appreciate its wonder, check out the PBS “Independent Lens” film titled “Between the Folds.” It features the art and science of origami by exploring the work of ten powerful paper-folders.

You can learn more about the history of origami and all sorts of paper-folding resources from PBS “Independent Lens” online. But your best bet is still buying a bunch of origami paper so you and your children can learn by doing.

– Lynn

Note: Start today if your family celebrates Christmas and you’d like to decorate your tree this year with paper cranes like those shown in one of the images above. Paper cranes and other origami or kirigami (paper cutting) art also make beautiful garlands and table decorations.

Coming up: Valley studios offering acting classes

Google and gardens

Sydney Gunnell of Arizona submitted THE EARLY SPRING for this year’s DOODLE 4 GOOGLE contest for K-12 students

National Public Gardens Day is being celebrated May 6, 2011 thanks to The American Public Gardens Association and Rain Bird. It’s designed to raise awareness about public gardens and their role in promoting environmental stewardship. Also to promote plant and water conservation — something we’ve yet to master here in Arizona.

I was struck, while browsing this year’s submissions by K-12 students for the “Doodle 4 Google” contest, by how few of the drawings with plants and flowers feature specimens native to the desert Southwest. Still, I can’t really complain — because it’s taken me more than two decades to develop my own appreciation for Arizona flora and fauna.

I grew up in Colorado, Alaska, Hawaii and California — with nary a Saguaro in sight. But my son, born and raised in Arizona, patiently prompts me in the ways of xeriscaping while doing his best to forgive my forays into plants of other regions that I still keep in my garden to remind me of my childhood.

We’re longtime members of the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, but I was pleased to learn recently that Arizona is home to several other public gardens as well. (My personal garden feels public when neighborhood dogs leave their mark, but it doesn’t technically qualify.)

Those noted on the “National Public Gardens Day” website include not only the DBG, but also two public gardens in Tucson — Boyce Thompson Arboretum (affilated with UA) and Tohono Chul Park. Also The Rose Garden at Mesa Community College and Wallace Desert Gardens in Scottsdale.

We know of other gardens in Arizona as well, including the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix, The Arboretum at Flagstaff and The Arboretum at ASU Community Garden in Tempe. All make for fun adventures with a camera or sketching materials in hand.

We dabbled in gardening as my children, now 17-21, were growing up. It taught them that the best food comes from the earth rather than machines. That growing good things sometimes takes time. That it’s okay to play in the dirt. That living things need tending to on a regular basis.

Encourage your little ones to try their tiny hands at gardening, and keep the care of Arizona’s natural bounty top of mind with garden-related day trips, garden-inspired art projects and explorations of garden-related books and activities. Maybe someday the winner of a “Doodle 4 Google” contest will feature the early morning bloom of a Saguaro cactus.

In the meantime, there’s plenty of amazing “Doodle 4 Google” artwork to explore on the Google website — which features submissions by K-12 students from around the country. You can vote online for your favorite through May 13. And watch for next year’s contest if your child might like to enter his or her own masterpiece.

Judges who selected this year’s 40 finalists include an astronaut, two Olympic gold medalists, several cartoonists and authors of beloved children’s books, a couple of museum professionals, an award-winning actor and others who grace the world with their own unique bits of art.

The winning “Doodle 4 Google” will be displayed on the Google homepage for 24 hours on May 20, 2011 — and the artist will receive prizes that include a $15,000 college scholarship. The 40 regional finalists win a trip to NYC and will have their work exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

For the rest of us, a simple parenting pearl still holds true. Refrigerators make the best exhibit spaces.

– Lynn

Coming up: Arizona school earns Grammy Foundation award 

Let’s go fly a kite!

The Japanese Friendship Garden presents a free Children's Festival this Saturday

The sky over Margaret T. Hance Park in Phoenix will be more colorful than usual this Saturday as kites take to the air during the annual Children’s Festival presented by the Japanese Friendship Garden.

It’s hailed as a combination of the Japanese traditions of Boys’ Day and Girls’ Day — customs which reflect the celebration of children’s health and well-being so important in Japanese culture.

The Children’s Festival takes place April 2 from 10am-3pm, and features all sorts of hands-on activities including anime drawing, face painting, traditional games and arts/crafts related to Japanese culture.

Students from Horizon High School will teach “the secrets of Kendama” (a ball and cup toy requiring great hand-eye coordination) and students from Central High School will demonstrate the art of folding origami cranes.

The Japanese Friendship Garden notes that the paper cranes “will be sent to the Bezos Family Foundation earning $2 each toward Japan relief efforts.”

It’s one of many ways the Japanese Friendship Garden is engaging people in supporting the people of Japan in the aftermath of devastating natural disasters.

Those who attend the event can enjoy “a showcase of colorful koi fish in tanks for an up-close view,” as well as the many koi living in the Garden’s lovely ponds. There’s even a statewide koi competition hosted by the Valley of the Sun Koi Club.

Those of you who prefer dogs will be pleased to know that the Arizona Shiba Inu Association “will have several furry friends on site.”

“Postcards to Japan,” a project coordinated through ON Semiconductor and their facilities in Japan, will “offer local kids the chance to write to Japanese children…offering their own words of encouragement and hope.”

The Japanese Friendship Garden is a truly lovely setting full of winding paths, beautiful stone and other natural materials, calming water features, blossoming flowers and other features that delight the senses of young and old. Enjoy it this Saturday, while the weather is at its finest.

It’s been far too long, I suspect, since your children heard you utter the phrase “Let’s go fly a kite!”

– Lynn

Note: The Children’s Festival takes place at Margaret T. Hance Park, which is adjacent to the Japanese Friendship Garden — so you can easily enjoy both in a single visit.

Coming up: Definition of a dream

Hope and remembrance

The Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix invites the public to join in a special day of hope and evening of remembrance this Saturday, March 26.

A free “Garden Open House” begins at 10am at the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix, located in Margaret T. Hance Park at 1125 N. 3rd Ave.

Garden visitors will have the opportunity to fold origami paper cranes, a Japanese symbol of hope, or leave written notes on garden “wish trees” — thereby “sending thoughts and prayers through the wind and across the globe.”

Musicians are welcome to bring acoustic instruments for “brief interludes of music” throughout the day.

A “Remembrance Service” will be conducted starting at 6pm that evening — to “honor the victims” of recent tragedies in Japan “through words and music.”

A ceremonial song called “Banshiki,” which is meant to “assist the soul on its journey,” will be played by Bobby Avstreih on the Japanese Shakuhachi (bamboo flute).

A “Toro Nagashi” (floating lantern) will be lit and set adrift while attendees begin a silent candlelight procession around the garden’s peaceful one acre koi pond.

The Japanese Friendship Garden is waiving its admission fee for Sat, Mar 26 — but invites members of the public to make donations to various relief agencies while attending the event.

– Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about how you can remember and honor victims of Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami.

Coming up: Remembering an American tragedy

Photo: Lynn Trimble

Free Arts & free arts

“Free” and “arts” — Add the word “children” and you might just have three of the most appealing things on the planet (at least for those lucky enough to enjoy the luxuries of shelter, food and clean water).

Previous "Don Quixote" performance (Harrison Hurwitz Photography)

You can enjoy them all this Sunday, Sept 19, at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts – when Dance Theater West’s student company (Storybook Ballet) presents “Don Quixote: A Free Arts Day.”

The 1pm-1:45pm atrium performance, which is free and open to the public, will feature dancers from the “Don Quixote” multi-disciplinary art program offered at Free Arts of Arizona in collaboration with Dance Theater West. Free Arts notes that they have 14 youth, including boys and girls from about 12 to 15, performing on Sunday.

"Don Quixote" with Dance Theater West (Harrison Hurwitz Photography)

The performance, and reception that follows from 1:45pm-3pm, showcase what the two groups have achieved together through professional dance workshops that “invite youth to experience new avenues and possibilities that they might not know exist in the performing arts.”

I recall my daughters dancing in a Dance Theater West “Les Mis” summer camp performance many years ago in this same atrium. It’s a bright, lovely space with plenty of room for children and others to sit and enjoy the offerings.

Just RSVP to info@freeartsaz.org if you can so they’ll have a rough idea of how many to expect for the event.

My daughters also enjoyed many a cultural festival featuring the song, dance, history and art of other countries — including Ireland, India and Japan.

Chinese Cultural Center event

I’ll be sure and alert them to Saturday’s free “Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival” taking place from 6:30pm-9pm at the Chinese Cultural Center near Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. It’s an opportunity for all ages to celebrate this Chinese tradition with moon cakes, live entertainment, demonstrations and other activities.

If you’re reading this post Friday morning, you may still have time to get over to the Edna Vihel Center in Tempe for “Free Art Friday“–featuring art projects, music and movement for preschoolers (plus snack) and their parents. It’s being held from 9am-11am, and is one of many family-friendly events presented by the City of Tempe. (Another cool find: Tempe’s “Public Art Walking Tour.”)

Japanese Friendship Garden event

More weekend events and activities — including several involving live theater for youth and families — are noted in Raising Arizona Kidsonline calendar. But read on for some of my favorite events taking place during the week…

The Japanese Friendship Garden, located at Margaret T. Hance Park near downtown Phoenix, will celebrate the United Nations’ “International Day of Peace” with “Sunrise Yoga” including Sun salutations and more from 6am-8:30am on Tuesday, Sept 21. Participate (with yoga mat or blanket and comfy clothes) or just “enjoy the beauty of the morning.”

Remember too that places like the the Japanese Friendship Garden (Ro Ho En), Desert Botanical Garden and Phoenix Zoo make great locations for wandering with sketch pad and pencils/pastels (or camera) in tow.

Sunrise at the Japanese Friendship Garden

Finally, check out the “Fall Faculty Concert” this week at the South Mountain Community College Storytelling Institute. The institute is “one of only a handful of academic programs in the nation to focus on the ancient art of storytelling.”

The concert — which takes place Wednesday, Sept 22,  at 7pm (at the SMCC Performance Hall) — features “a variety of intriguing and entertaining tales from a diverse array of cultures” presented by five members of the college’s storytelling institute. Maricopa Community College students (with student ID) can attend at no charge, and general admission tickets are just $10.

If you’re especially excited about a family-friendly event taking place this weekend or during the week ahead, feel free to comment below to let fellow readers know.

– Lynn

Note: The Franciscan Renewal Center and The Arizona Peace Alliance present a “Peace Ceremony” on Tuesday, Sept 21, from 6pm-8:30pm at the center, to include music, dance, inspirational messages, an aerial group photo (people stnding together to spell the word “peace”) and winnings works from a peace-themed art/writing contest for youth.

Coming up: The fine art of fences, Finding peace in art