Wednesday, March 26, 2014

There's No I in KNEE DEEP: The Benefits of Your Child Observing Teamwork On Stage

Note from the Editor: Today, we present a piece by mother and writer Stephanie Ogozalek. Stephanie attended a performance of Knee Deep this past weekend and reflected on her experience for us in the following piece. For more of her work, visit!

Teamwork, the ability to work with others toward a mutual goal, offers kids a slew of benefits that include improved performance in school, highly developed social skills and more choices for jobs in the future. The popular way to expose kids to this important life skill is to register them for Little League Baseball or Pee Wee Soccer. Or, as I realized this weekend, you could try taking them to the theater.

Knee Deep, currently playing at the New Vic and from Australia’s Casus Circus, is all about partnership, and it's a perfect opportunity to expose kids to the unbelievable results that years of collaborative work and incredible physical training can produce. The thrilling, artistic show leaves you wondering about the relationships these performers must have forged, as their stylistic feats prove how closely connected they are mentally, emotionally, and sometimes, literally.

As I watched the show, I took mental note of the moments I could reflect on with my son once the curtain came down. When you see the show with your family, observe these moments and think about how to reinforce these important values with your kids. Here are four ways teamwork is put into practice during Knee Deep:

Trust your Teammates: Like the egg that inspired Casus Circus’ production Knee Deep, trust can be both fragile and strong; it can shatter with one false move. While the troupe’s four highly-trained performers have been working together longer than most Little League baseball teams, both groups rely on their partners to achieve success. A Little League pitcher confidently throws a pitch knowing his team is behind him waiting to do their best job once they hear the crack of a bat. Similarly, in the opening act, Emma Serjeant’s confidence in her team is evident as she literally throws herself onto their raised hands, then walks across their palms with the full expectation that her next step will be supported.

Cooperation is Key: Teams know they can exceed their goals when the group works as a unit, coordinating efforts the way well-oiled basketball players pass the ball to each other until someone sinks a shot. Casus continually pulls together, and its members assist one another while performing group routines, particularly in the amazing human bridge act where Lachlan McAulay walks tight rope-style across his troupe mates' interlocked arms.

Stay Strong: My 9-year old son excitedly told me, “their bodies shook when they stood on the eggs,” impressed to watch these incredible athletes push their bodies past their limits. The eggs were actually on a table that was teetering on 4 glass bottles as the performers climbed up one another in a spectacular balancing act. But the troupe’s awe-inspiring feats aren’t just physical; in every act their mental capabilities are also on exhibit. The level of concentration it takes to create self-supporting structures can be an inspiration to blossoming team players, showing them it is important to always stay focused on the game, even when it isn’t their turn at bat.

There is No I in Team: Watching this show, kids will see each member of a team playing an important role while working seamlessly as choreographed parts of a whole to achieve a common goal. Whether working on a team like Casus where your goal is to create a human tower, or to working together to win the Pee Wee Soccer game, success comes when it is a joint effort.


Stephanie Ogozalek is a regular contributor to the popular NYC kids and parents activity website Mommy Poppins ( Her work has also appeared in Family Fun, Chile Pepper, American Eagle and Saveur Magazines as well as Pastry and Disney’s She lives in Manhattan with her husband and 9 year old son and enjoys exposing her family to the best activities, events and culture NYC has to offer.

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