Qwindo's Window was the attraction this week-end at the Kennedy Center's Children's Arts Series, and very attractive it was.
This Washington-based, multimedia dance troupe has worked with over half a million kids in 25 states since its founding in 1970 by dancer Anne Dunkin and designer-filmmaker Brad Willis. Saturday morning QW had several hundred children and parents packed into the Center's musical lab theater for a presentation that included movements, mime, posters, slides and film.
The mini-show was less a "performance" than a participatory activity designed to put the audience in touch with the sensations and expressive potential of movement.
A make-believe journey from "Here" to "There" became the scaffold for an exploration of the dimensions of movement, with built-in opportunities for vocal and bodily contributions from the kids. The skit, moreover, relied as little as possible on words. Instead, gestures and gyrations were used to create a kind of kinetic rebus, introducing the idea of dance as a "language" of a particularly rich and malleable sort.
It's fine, imaginative concept; the clever shuttling between filmed action and live performance is an especially keen stroke.
Qwindo's Window is one of a dozen troupes, ranging in focus from poetry and puppetry to bluegrass music and Afro-American storytelling, being presented through December at the Kennedy Center under the auspices of the Alliance for Arts Education.