Tween Time: Shadow Magic

By Michael Berick

tweens in LA

See what the Catapult Shadow Dance Company can create in silhouette at the Haugh March 3. PHOTO COURTESY CATAPULT SHADOW DANCE COMPANY

Technology has dramatically changed the way entertainment is created and consumed for tweens in LA. All of the high-tech wizardry, however, can make old-fashioned techniques seem unusual and even avant-garde. Shadow puppetry, for example, is a centuries-old art form that can still be used to create a magical experience for audiences.

You might have seen the Catapult Shadow Dance Company when they were finalists on “America’s Got Talent.” This innovative troupe employs creative use of storytelling and they perform behind a screen, transforming the dancers into the “magic shadows,” which is the name of their show at 2 p.m. March 4 at the Haugh Performing Arts Center (www.haughpac.com) in Glendora. Tickets are $20-$35 adults, $15-$32 students, $10-$20 ages 16 and younger.

Historians have viewed shadow puppetry as a precursor to movies, and that is evident in the work of the Chicago-based Manual Cinema troupe. They use cameras, vintage projectors, musicians, actors and shadow puppets to construct their mesmerizing production, “The Magic City.” Recommended for ages 9 and older, this unique mixed-media, immersive experience comes to the Soraya (formerly the Valley Performing Arts Center, www.valleyperformingartscenter.org) in Northridge for a 3 p.m. performance March 18. Tickets are $33.

The most traditional shadow puppet show of the month is the Huayin Shadow Puppet Band, a group of Chinese farmers formerly known as the Zhang Family Band. They play traditional Chinese folk music with an infectious zeal, and combine it with shadow puppet storytelling to create an energetic multimedia show that could be described as an ancient Chinese version of a rock concert. They will be performing at 7:30 p.m. March 5 at the Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens (www.huntington.org) in San Marino with Wu Man, the Grammy-nominated musician who is a virtuoso on the traditional Chinese string instrument known as the pipa. Tickets are $20.

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