Sunday, March 8, 2009

Kinnelon's Winter Festival

This past January 2, 2009, the first ever Winter Festival took place at the Kinnelon NJ library. From noon to 4pm, all kinds of activities took place at the library making for a family-friendly celebration of the New Year.

We got there late. That meant that we missed Bradley McMurray - "pianist extraordinaire and wonderful performer, attuned to the Classical repertoire as well as the American genre of stride - Jazz which he plays with a fine technique, excitement and sensitivity."

We also missed Sathya who performed a Bharatanatyam dance, "a classic dance form originating in Tamil Nadu a state in South India and known as the Indian National Dance. Bharatanatyam is usually accompanied by the classical Carnatic music," doing so in full traditional costume...

[Here is a link to a YouTube video clip of Authentic (real) Bharatanatyam Indian dance.]

However, we were in time to hear Christopher, a freshman at Kinnelon High School, present to us an overview of the various ways that cultures around the world celebrate the New Year.

+ In Mexico, make a wish as you eat twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight. And, for luck in love, wear red underwear.

+ Several countries hold Polar Bear Plunges.

+ The Chinese New Year celebration lasts 15 days.

+ Peru and Venezuela have traditions of taking one's luggage for a walk around the block at New Year's! [See Wikipedia New Year's Eve.]

Next, we took part in the world premiere of "an original creation written by a very well known member of the Smoke Rise Players!" [Note: dated information.]

Titled "The Grand Hall Character Ball" and written by LynnMarie McCullough, it is the story of Emily trying to determine her "story" so she can attend the Grand Hall Character Ball. Assisted by Coogle, the troll, the two successfully avoid the witch - intent on turning them into trees, and convince the rabbit [aka the author] to be part of their group.

The story ends with all characters attending the ball because Emily, in discovering her story, realizes that her skill is bringing out the best in others.

My daughter and I had a blast!

Several aspects of the production were particularly engaging:

+ The actors never spoke. They acted out as the narrator described events and scenes.

+ The entire room was the stage, and several members of the audience became umbrella-trees to create a forest.

+ The author performed.

The book is due out in March. We've been promised an email update. When I receive that, I'll share it here.

After the Grand Hall Character Ball performance, Corey Spies, a sophomore at Kinnelon High School and talented musician, played Rameau and Chopin on the keyboard. He also answered questions about becoming a musician: he has been playing since the age of five. He now practices approximately 45 minutes per day; he plays trumpet at the High School and is 6th chair for the area band.

Kinnelon's Winter Festival represented a marvelous community celebration of the New Year and of the talent within our community. I look forward to next year's Winter Festival.

Thank you, Kinnelon Library, and all who presented and performed and shared their talents with us.

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