Free Arts & free arts

“Free” and “arts” — Add the word “children” and you might just have three of the most appealing things on the planet (at least for those lucky enough to enjoy the luxuries of shelter, food and clean water).

Previous "Don Quixote" performance (Harrison Hurwitz Photography)

You can enjoy them all this Sunday, Sept 19, at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts — when Dance Theater West’s student company (Storybook Ballet) presents “Don Quixote: A Free Arts Day.”

The 1pm-1:45pm atrium performance, which is free and open to the public, will feature dancers from the “Don Quixote” multi-disciplinary art program offered at Free Arts of Arizona in collaboration with Dance Theater West. Free Arts notes that they have 14 youth, including boys and girls from about 12 to 15, performing on Sunday.

"Don Quixote" with Dance Theater West (Harrison Hurwitz Photography)

The performance, and reception that follows from 1:45pm-3pm, showcase what the two groups have achieved together through professional dance workshops that “invite youth to experience new avenues and possibilities that they might not know exist in the performing arts.”

I recall my daughters dancing in a Dance Theater West “Les Mis” summer camp performance many years ago in this same atrium. It’s a bright, lovely space with plenty of room for children and others to sit and enjoy the offerings.

Just RSVP to if you can so they’ll have a rough idea of how many to expect for the event.

My daughters also enjoyed many a cultural festival featuring the song, dance, history and art of other countries — including Ireland, India and Japan.

Chinese Cultural Center event

I’ll be sure and alert them to Saturday’s free “Mid-Autumn/Moon Festival” taking place from 6:30pm-9pm at the Chinese Cultural Center near Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix. It’s an opportunity for all ages to celebrate this Chinese tradition with moon cakes, live entertainment, demonstrations and other activities.

If you’re reading this post Friday morning, you may still have time to get over to the Edna Vihel Center in Tempe for “Free Art Friday“–featuring art projects, music and movement for preschoolers (plus snack) and their parents. It’s being held from 9am-11am, and is one of many family-friendly events presented by the City of Tempe. (Another cool find: Tempe’s “Public Art Walking Tour.”)

Japanese Friendship Garden event

More weekend events and activities — including several involving live theater for youth and families — are noted in Raising Arizona Kidsonline calendar. But read on for some of my favorite events taking place during the week…

The Japanese Friendship Garden, located at Margaret T. Hance Park near downtown Phoenix, will celebrate the United Nations’ “International Day of Peace” with “Sunrise Yoga” including Sun salutations and more from 6am-8:30am on Tuesday, Sept 21. Participate (with yoga mat or blanket and comfy clothes) or just “enjoy the beauty of the morning.”

Remember too that places like the the Japanese Friendship Garden (Ro Ho En), Desert Botanical Garden and Phoenix Zoo make great locations for wandering with sketch pad and pencils/pastels (or camera) in tow.

Sunrise at the Japanese Friendship Garden

Finally, check out the “Fall Faculty Concert” this week at the South Mountain Community College Storytelling Institute. The institute is “one of only a handful of academic programs in the nation to focus on the ancient art of storytelling.”

The concert — which takes place Wednesday, Sept 22,  at 7pm (at the SMCC Performance Hall) — features “a variety of intriguing and entertaining tales from a diverse array of cultures” presented by five members of the college’s storytelling institute. Maricopa Community College students (with student ID) can attend at no charge, and general admission tickets are just $10.

If you’re especially excited about a family-friendly event taking place this weekend or during the week ahead, feel free to comment below to let fellow readers know.

— Lynn

Note: The Franciscan Renewal Center and The Arizona Peace Alliance present a “Peace Ceremony” on Tuesday, Sept 21, from 6pm-8:30pm at the center, to include music, dance, inspirational messages, an aerial group photo (people stnding together to spell the word “peace”) and winnings works from a peace-themed art/writing contest for youth.

Coming up: The fine art of fences, Finding peace in art