Thursday, July 17, 2014

10 Fun Facts About Our Nation's Libraries

Growing up, my local library was the go-to spot for hanging out in the summer. It was close by, air conditioned, and a way for my mom to entertain me and all my siblings at once-- the younger ones could play and browse the children's section, the older ones could use the PCs or sift through new CDs the library had acquired. I even saw my first Broadway show thanks to my community's library. The children's librarians put together a summer reading program every year. With each book read, we got a stamp in our reading log and a little reward. If we accumulated enough stamps by the end of the summer, we earned a trip to see a Broadway show! I can still remember the thrill of seeing the curtain rise on the tap dancing feet during 42nd Street, alongside my fellow young readers and favorite librarians. I've never been more motivated to read and to appreciate the many functions of my local library than I was during those summers as a kid. 

With this week's Summer Fun Field Guide, we decided to focus on reading. Many of the shows coming to our theater next season are based on classic tales (Pinocchio, The Light Princess, The Magic Flute) that have been adapted into books, while other shows in our season have been translated directly from page to stage (The Snail and the Whale, Lionboy). Click here to download our latest field guide page, and find a summer reading list based on our season selections. Read along this summer and create your own reward system with your family. I promise it'll get your kiddos reading while school's out!

Plus, when you take a look at our latest field guide page, you'll see we've got some fun trivia questions about our nation's libraries. Read on for the answers to those questions, plus find some more library fun facts to share with your kids, below. Talk about these facts as you plan your trip to your local library! (Don't have your library card yet? CLICK HERE and sign up for yours now.)

1. The biggest library in the world is The Library of Congress in Washington DC, which boasts over 32 million volumes. (

2. There are more public libraries than McDonald's in the U.S. (ALA)

3. The marble lions who live outside of the famous Beaux-Arts branch of the New York Public Library, on 5th Avenue between 40th and 42nd Streets, are named Patience and Fortitude. The names were coined by Mayor LaGuardia in the 1930s. (NYPL)

4. Many people believe that Benjamin Franklin started the first library in America, but the history of libraries in our nation is a bit more complicated than that. While Franklin spearheaded an early book trade in Philadelphia, the oldest library building that still stands is the Sturgis Library in Cape Cod (built in 1644) and the oldest book collection in the States was donated by John Harvard to the university that would bear his name. (Sturgis Library)

5. Beneath Bryant Park are two-level stack extensions, 37 miles of shelving in total, that hold many of the flagship branch's volumes. Think about that next time you're picnicking on the lawn! (NYPL)

6. The NYPL's collection includes a  unique 1493 letter written by Christopher Columbus, announcing his "discovery" of the New World. (NYPL)

7. Did you know that famous historical figures like Mao Zedong, Laura Bush, J. Edgar Hoover, Beverly Cleary, Lewis Carroll and Giacomo Casanova were all librarians at a point in their lives? (AbeBooks)

8. There's one book that's on record as being stolen from libraries more often than any other title-- The Guinness Book of World Records. (INALJ)

9. Speaking of stealing books, volumes weren't always so easy to take off of their shelves. In times when books were less ubiquitous and more expensive to print, libraries and monks would chain their books to desks to make sure they stayed put. (River North)

10. A stray cat, "Dewey," was adopted by the small town library in Spencer Iowa, and became beloved by the town. So much so that a book was written about the cat's life, and the book became a New York Times bestseller. (Dewey)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Introducing our Summer Field Guide

Spending the summer in New York City can sometimes feel like navigating the Amazon. There's the heat, the humidity, the towering buildings and the constant challenge of going from hot, sweaty, asphalt-covered streets to the frigid cold of air conditioned interiors. But while we adults might grow weary of the dog days, it's worth remembering that even the most sticky, scorching summer days are still an exciting adventure for kids. When school's out, it means infinite time to play and explore, and that spirit is what we're all about here at the New Vic!

We know, though, that even the most intrepid young explorers of the Concrete Jungle might need some help now and then to get them through the thickest brush. So, we compiled a handful of ideas from our staff members' imaginations and came up with The New Victory Theater Summer Fun Field Guide!

Inspired by summer events and the shows coming to our theater next season, we've got a set of five pages coming your way. We hope our field guide, complete with facts and activities, will help keep your kids curious and active while homework is out of sight and out of mind!

Click here to download page one of our Summer Fun Field Guide. Once you download and print (or pin!) the page, you might want to use our handy .GIF tutorial below to help you build your loop-de-loop paper airplane. And when you do complete your handmade aircraft, make sure to tweet or Instagram a photo, using #newvic!

1. Fold paper in half long-ways.

2. Fold down the two top corners so that they meet with the center crease.

3. With those folds, you have created a triangular top portion. 
Fold down that portion along its natural crease.

4. Again, take your top to corners and fold down. This time, don't meet the center crease with your folds, but leave about an inch between your fold and the center crease. Do this with both sides.

5. Fold up the bottom triangular shape, over the two corners you've just folded down. This will act as a stopper to hold in the corners you've folded down.

6. Now, fold the entire plane back along the initial center crease. 

7. Fold down the side of the plane so that the straight edge meets the center crease. 
Do this on both sides.

8. Now that you've created your plane's wings, fold up the back corners of each wing, which will help create the loop-de-loop effect!

All done! Now, decorate your creation, give it a throw, and maybe even create obstacles for your plane. Can you make it fly through a hula hoop? Don't forget to share your creation with us online!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Origins of Victory Dance

By Kali DiPippo, Artistic Programming

There is a box of materials on my desk that I affectionately think of as “The Mine.” This box contains video recordings, listings of live performances and information about festivals and conferences. The team in Artistic Programming will watch or attend these shows in order to unearth top-notch performing arts "gems" for children and families that fill our theater with stunning artistry, bright smiles and contagious energy. Each season, these gems encompass a diversity of art forms (circus, musical theater and puppetry are a few of our favorites) and represent many cultures and countries from around the globe. We're honored and excited each time we premiere a work in the United States, or in NYC, but recently we mined some new gems…some local gems. Never before have we had the privilege of focusing on a single art form, nor on work exclusively happening in our own city—until this summer.

Many of our staff members have worked in the dance field, so as huge fans of dance ourselves, we wanted to share this passion with New Victory audiences. While there are many excellent opportunities to view dance in New York, as a theater that brings the arts to New York City kids and families, we aimed to gather some of our favorite choreographers and dance companies, and present them in a way that felt accessible to families. As it turned out, each artist we spoke to responded with equal enthusiasm and Victory Dance began to take shape. This month, we'll present the first-ever festival-style presentation of dance on our stage. The series will consist of three programs, featuring a variety of themes and styles, from New York-based companies.

With Victory Dance, we wanted these performances to feel comfortable for NYC kids and families, especially those who might not be as familiar with the world of professional dance. In order to make this a reality, there were a few things we made sure to do. For starters, most of the performances will be attended by kids from summer camps and schools. For those students and campers, the performances will be completely free—and they will also receive dance-based workshops at no cost. (Is your kid attending summer camp in or near NYC? We still have space for new partners. Learn more here.) One night of each program will also be available to New Vic families and other dance fans looking to see these prolific companies on our stage. Get your tickets here!

Although we curated Victory Dance with family audiences specifically in mind, many of the individual pieces in each program were already a part of each company’s repertoire. The works and companies we are welcoming—some performing for families for the first time—represent a diverse cross-section of style, gender and inspiration; the perfect introduction, we believe, to the world of dance!

We are delighted that each performance will include the opportunity for audiences to interact with the artists of Victory Dance. For the summer camps and schools, New Vic Teaching Artists will guide kids through the themes and ideas of the pieces, encouraging them to make observations and ask questions about the works. (They may even learn a move or two from their seats!) All of the performances (both for schools/camps and the public) will also include a talk-back with the choreographers and/or company members integral to the creation of the pieces.

American poet William Stafford said about kids, “they dance before they learn there is anything that isn't music.” His words are a splendid illustration of the spirit we will celebrate this July. So make sure to mark your calendars and reserve a spot-- all tickets are just $10. We hope you'll join us to uncover the treasures of Victory Dance!