Perspiration As Inspiration

Corcoran’s family day teaches children that movement is also art

February 28, 2012

Miss Amy & Her Big Kids Band want to help start a new art movement on Saturday.

A museum exhibit that includes a sculpture made of cheese balls might not seem like it’s sending the healthiest message to kids. But the Corcoran Gallery of Art is using “Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro: Are We There Yet?” — which depicts how much food a person would need to survive a journey to Mars — as the centerpiece of its annual family day. And the space theme is designed to blast some calories as it introduces youngsters to the art world.

“I’m going to expect them all to be stars,” says Miss Amy, who combines music and movement in her fitness rock concerts. As she performs with Her Big Kids Band (at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.), her goal is to get everyone marching, jumping and doing the occasional yoga pose — although she would never call it that. “It’s ‘Let’s balance on one foot like a flamingo,’” she says. Mom and Dad, you’re invited to the party. “Kids want to see their parents moving,” Miss Amy adds. “I ask them to join along.”

It’ll probably feel strange at first to do something in a museum other than stand and stare, but that’s why it’s so critical to participate, says Holly Bass, a writer/performance artist who’s directing break-dancing workshops (at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.). “Art is often intellectual and heady,” she says. “It’s important, especially for young people, to experience art in a physical way.”

They’ll do that with the help of a crew of b-boys and b-girls in astronaut suits, who’ll be demo-ing tricks and teaching the basics of breaking. The style of dance, which often appears to defy gravity, offers more than just a wow factor. “Because it seems impossible, it expands the realm of what we feel we can accomplish,” explains Bass, who pushed the limits of her own body for an “endurance” performance at the Corcoran earlier this month. (She spent seven-straight hours dancing in a glass cube.)

Children with extra stamina can also take part in science experiments, Martian mask making and other hands-on activities. Moving around the museum is a different kind of space exploration than you can do in a rocket ship, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be any less out of this world.

Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th St. NW; Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; free; 202-639-1700; Corcoran.org/familyday.
Vicky Hallett is a MisFits columnist and the Fit editor for Express.
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