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San Ramon 2nd Graders Wreak Havoc in der Luft!!

Good Show Promo Photo

(By Teaching Artist Eliot Fintushel: his 12th year teaching improvisation in San Ramon’s Second Grade!)

In our sessions together, the 2nd Graders at San Ramon School have finally learned to be careful not to crush underfoot all those tiny 1st Graders we find scattered around the Music Room floor like ants at a picnic. We carefully, gently pick them up between our thumb and forefinger and put them outside the door to return to their own classrooms. I mean, sheesh! The things a 2nd Grader has to put up with! Then we practice flying and throwing sound balls and wearing the most exotic masks. (See above.) And, although everybody promises only to fly over Marin County and not to wave to people in airplanes, truth to tell, NOBODY complies, and all havoc breaks loose in the Upper Shnookosphere!!!!!

We Traveled the World!



Thank you to all who helped to celebrate our 45th anniversary at our Travel the World gala on Friday! We hope you had a wonderful time experiencing the opening of Rising Stars–the Marin County High School Art Show–and getting a chance to see Mentor Artists June Li, Joti Singh, Bongo Sidibe, Eliot Fintushel and Nydia Algazzali Gonzalez demonstrate just a few of the world art forms we share with students through our Travel the World program.

We also hope you enjoyed the delicious treats from An Affair to Remember Catering and music from `Til Dawn a cappella, and we thank you for your generous support via our Fund-A-Need and live auction.

If you’d like to see the impact of the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Program that your Fund-A-Need giving supports, come to our exhibit opening this Friday, April 8, 5-8 pm!

And once again thanks so much to our Lead Gala Sponsor the Buck Family Fund of the Marin Community Foundation, to our Media Sponsor the Marin Independent Journal, and to all the many supporters who helped make this event possible.






Here are some photos from the night, courtesy of Garrett Low, photographer and `Til Dawn parent (thanks for sharing, Garrett!)


2nd Graders of San Ramon: Airborne!

Mentor Artist Eliot Fintushel filed this report on the flying second graders of San Ramon Elementary School in Novato:

Our Sculpture Garden

Our Sculpture Garden
The children are taking turns as clay and as sculptor. When each round of statues is done and half the children have hardened into stone, we who are the round’s artists tour our Sculpture Garden and name the various pieces–before they melt and sculpt US!

In five weekly sessions, three classes of 2nd Graders at Novato’s San Ramon Elementary School learned . . .

  • How to fly anywhere in or out of this world and at once
  • How to make any household object into anything else, big or small
  • How to become a group photograph of events past, present, or future, near or far
  • How to go up and down on elevators flights of stairs that aren’t there
  • How to do pushups with (a) one hand (b) one pinky (c) no hands, nothing at all
  • How to make a statue of a friend or to to become clay and be made a statue
  • How to weave fantastic stories out of thin air
  • Many other extremely practical things

We used techniques of pantomime, including illusions and figurations of the body. We explored narrative improvisation. We played many theatre games and did lots of exercises for concentration, coordination, agility–and. let’s confess, the fun of it.

Roman CharioteersRoman Charioteers
In under five seconds, these children have BECOME a photograph of Roman charioteers, through our magical camera

Unfortunately, a number of the children, it must be reported, were observed flying over remote areas of the Antarctic, which, as we learned, WERE NOT IN MARIN COUNTY (which is where everybody was very clearly instructed to confine their flights!) Some had to be shipped back to Novato in crates, as we found out in our storytelling exercises.

The children were asked to sit, at a hand clap, with a particular feeling imbuing every bone and cell.

I implore teachers, parents, and Youth In Arts staff to help remind the children of the dangers of solo interstellar flight.  We are still negotiating with the Rock Dwellers of Neptune for the return of several of our 2nd Graders who flew there over the weekend, using the mime technique of string causality.


2nd Graders are beginning to take flight, using the mime technique of string causality. WARNING: Stay over Marin County and do NOT wave to people in airplanes.

More . . .

Take, Double Take

Take, Double Take
In this game, the children learn stage presence through the use of masks. The power of the TAKE, of simply looking or looking away is dramatically conveyed and immediately understood.

 . . . also . . .


Experiment in Sitzfleisch

Experiment in Sitzfleisch
Physical Theatre is all about learning to think with one’s whole body. In this game, the children are creating–in an instant–entirely new ways of sitting!

  . . . not to mention . . .


Beloved Renegade

Beloved Renegade
In this exercise in leaning, one of the students has decided, unasked, to vary it by standing and leaning on one leg only. Hurray! Unlike many lessons in school, the lessons in theatre classes are as well served by the renegades as by the conformist. It’s a fine line and a delicate call, to be sure, since discipline is, of course, what make experimentation possible, but, ah, the joy of an occasional . . . DISCOVERY!

Celebrate at Northgate!

Join us in celebrating “back-to-school” season with a taste of our visual and performing arts offerings!  See, hear, feel and explore the dance, music, theater and visual arts activities that Youth in Arts can provide for your school.  August 27th and 28th from 12-2pm at the Northgate Mall.

Assembly program feature performances include Native American Hoop Dancing by Eddie Madril, Mexican Ballet Folklorico Netzahualcoyotl, Andean Music with Chaskinakuy, Mask Theater and Commedia dell’arte with Eliot Fintushel, Hawaiian dance with Halau Na Pua O Ka La’akea and Youth in Arts’ award-winning teen a cappella group ‘Til Dawn.

Visual Arts Workshops with Youth in Arts Mentor Artists Suzanne Joyal and Brooke Toczylowski. Everyone is invited to Northgate! Families, teachers, parents and students will discover how these amazing performing and visual artists can come to their schools. Our staff will be on hand to answer questions and explain how you can book events for the new school year.

Many thanks to our event partner, Northgate Mall!

Celebrate at Northgate!
FREE arts performances & workshops
12 noon – 2pm, both days • 415.457.4878

Levitation, Human Film, and Human Clay

Youth in Arts’ Mentor Artist Eliot Fintushel has been working with the second graders at San Ramon Elementary School for seven years! He introduces them to the fun, fascinating world of Mime.

Using the mime technique of “string causality,” Eliot taught the second graders at  how to fly. Eliot warned them not to wave to people in airplanes or to fly out over the Pacific–but they ignored his warnings and came back with incredible stories.

Learning how to fly in the upper jeebasphere

Second Graders Ascending via String Causality!

Students entering the film compartment of our magic camera

The children became “film” in a magic camera that can photograph ANYTHING, past, present, future, near or far, real or imagined.

Pressing the Sound Bar to make our human-film photo audible!

Our magic camera takes a photo of the Bolshoi Ballet thousands of miles away in Moscow.

Magic photo of life at the bottom of the Pacific.

Students also made sculptures of one another:

Incredibly, half of these second graders have turned to modeling clay, and the other half are molding them into statues worthy of Praxiteles.

Something out of Nothing!

Mentor Artist Eliot Fintushel worked with second graders at San Ramon Elementary School to explore and expand the very depths of their imaginations. Following are just a few of the wonderful theater games introduced to the students by Eliot in his six weeks of workshops with them.

And now it’s a tail!

In the game of GA!, as I kneel to even my head with everybody else’s, we go around faster and faster, nearly turning to pudding.

Just like that, the broom, once a hat, has become a sword.

Now the broom has become a hat of high fashion.
In this game of Prop Rounds, the broom has become a horse.

Circle story--each says a sentence, and all unfolds.

This was Eliot’s seventh year with the second graders at San Ramon.