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Children’s music performer launches new season of Strathmore’s “Backyard Theater”

  • Published in Music

Little Miss Ann opens a new season of “Backyard Theater for Kids” at the Mansion at Strathmore. COURTESY PHOTOLittle Miss Ann opens a new season of “Backyard Theater for Kids” at the Mansion at Strathmore. COURTESY PHOTO  Elementary school teachers often spend time singing to or with students, but not everyone ends up a professional singer.

Ann Torralba did. With a Masters in special education, Torralba spent seven years teaching public elementary school students “on the spectrum.”

She often bought her guitar to class and joined a band while in graduate school.

“But I never thought I’d play professionally,” Torralba said. “I had very little formal training.”

A Chicago resident, Torralba now occasionally goes on the road as “Little Miss Ann,” and one of her out-of-town gigs will be at the Mansion at Strathmore, as part of its “Backyard Theater for Kids” summer music series, which she launches on July 5.

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Israeli Dance Festival attracts diverse performers and audiences

Ilana Preuss and children in 2016 Israeli Dance Festival DC. COURTESY PHOTOIlana Preuss and children in 2016 Israeli Dance Festival DC. COURTESY PHOTO  You don’t have to be Israeli – or even Jewish – to love Israeli dancing.

Margaret “Peggy” Antonisse, 66, is neither, but she attends Israeli dance sessions open to the public a few times a week. She also serves on the planning committee for the annual Israeli Dance Festival DC, which showcases Israeli dance performing groups of all ages in the area.

“It also cultivates an appreciation of the rich culture of Israeli dance and encourages participation of people from all backgrounds, ages and skill levels,” said Abby Kerbel, one of the co-chairs.

Israeli dance is diverse in and of itself – drawing on Arabic, Yemenite, Latino and Eastern European roots. It incorporates line and circle dances, and sometimes couples’ dances.

“I first developed an interest in Israeli dance as part of international dance in college,” Antonisse said. “It was great aerobic exercise and had a wonderful sense of community – when you hold hands in a circle and the group is moving as one in the same direction.”

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Latest Dance Exchange project zeroes in on LGBTQ+ community

Andy Torres, pictured in the foreground, is a collaborator in the Dance Exchange project “Growing Our Own Gardens.”  COURTESY PHOTOAndy Torres, pictured in the foreground, is a collaborator in the Dance Exchange project “Growing Our Own Gardens.” COURTESY PHOTODance involves not only movement and music but community involvement.

That’s the viewpoint of Dance Exchange, a Takoma Park-based, non-profit arts organization devoted to dance-making and creative practices that engage individuals and communities of all ages to cultivate a deeper understanding of one’s world.

“Dance Exchange collaborates across generations, disciplines, and communities to channel the power for performance as a means for dialogue, a source of critical reflection, and a creative engine for thought and action,” said Matthew Cumbie, associate artistic director.

One of the communities Dance Exchange is now exploring is the D.C. area’s queer community.

With the collective title of “Growing Our Own Gardens,” the organization has created an ongoing project that promotes “dialogue and action about issues faced by LGBTQ+ communities and centers the stories, lives, and questions of LGBTQ+ throughout history,” Cumbie said. “We’re looking at the history of these communities but bringing the conversation into the modern day.”

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Play your own kind of music

  • Published in Local

School of Rock students-2Playing an instrument is the best way to learn about music.

That's the overarching theory of The School of Rock, an international franchise that holds interactive music classes for children and adults. There, students can learn guitar, bass guitar, drums, keyboards, and vocals. Currently, there are 150 locations that span across seven countries, including Brazil and Panama.

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