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On the Road for the Kids

On Friday, September 16th at 6:30 pm, the University Musical Society (UMS) hosts its seventh annual benefit auction/dinner event, On the Road with UMS. Not only is this event an absolute blast, but the cause is near and dear to our hearts: performing arts education and community engagement. This integral portion of the UMS mission enables us to provide teacher workshops, in-class artist visits for schoolchildren, and live daytime performances programmed especially for school field-trips. In the post below, Karen Stutz — UMS volunteer, Advisory Committee Member, and 2011 On the Road Co-Chair — writes about why On the Road matters to her.

Imagine a sub-zero Ann Arbor morning in the dead of winter. Black ice, blustery winds, knee-deep snow. Without a doubt, this is the kind of morning that only a gleeful gaggle of  kids dancing to a live salsa concert can remedy. This exact sight lifted my heart when I worked as a volunteer greeter for a UMS Youth Performance by Baby Loves Salsa last winter.

I’ve volunteered as a Youth Performance greeter for a few years now and one thing is always the same: from the minute the kids step off the bus, they radiate excitement that lasts until the final curtain is drawn. The Baby Loves Salsa concert was no different. Along with their teachers, the children who attended Baby Loves Salsa clapped, sang, and danced in the aisles.

Last year, I also volunteered at the Youth Performance for the Paul Taylor Dance Company. Watching the students’ faces as they soaked up the performance was fascinating. They were rapt with attention as they followed the movement and choreography. The UMS Youth Performance program offers companion classroom curriculum and educational workshops for teachers; by the time the students are on-site at a UMS performance field trip, they are some of our most well-versed and informed patrons. They are ready for challenging, world-class performances. They are learning about cultures from all over the world and about how the performing arts can act as a window to better understand one another and the world at large.

Thousands of students from Southeast Michigan benefit in huge ways from seeing performances right here in Ann Arbor — I support the UMS Education & Community Engagement programs through fundraisers like On the Road because I’d like to keep it that way. Performing arts education matters to me because it matters to the kids.

Why is performing arts Education & Community Engagement important to you?

Tickets to this year’s On the Road event are $100 and must be purchased in advance. Rachelle Lesko at UMS is more than happy to help you with your ticket purchases and answer any questions: 734-764-8489 or Hope to see you there!

UMS Announces 10/11 Family Series

UMS announces its 10/11 Family Series, featuring two one-hour performances especially for families. In addition, families may purchase advanced tickets to a special daytime performance by Kodo, scheduled during the Ann Arbor Public Schools winter break.  Complete details below!

Paul Taylor Dance Company in "Also Playing"Paul Taylor Dance Company

Saturday, October 9 | 1 pm
Power Center

Quite simply, Paul Taylor makes dances that people love. He has made some of the most astonishingly athletic and downright funniest dances ever put on a stage. This performance features his new work, Also Playing, a Vaudeville revue with acts ranging from an Apache dance to a tap-dancing horse and a toreador whose sissy bulls are frightened of her. The afternoon will also include a “chance to dance,” where children learn some of the company’s dance moves in a pre-concert hands-on — or shall we say feet-on? — workshop.

Baby Loves Salsa

Sunday, January 30 | 1 pm & 4 pm
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre

Baby Loves Salsa features some of the biggest and brightest stars in contemporary salsa music, including band leader and singer José Conde, who regularly appears with his New York-bsaed band Ola Fresca. Just as Dan Zanes has revolutionized kids’ music, José Conde takes the Afro-Cuban form of salsa and turns it into something that kids and parents both love. Don’t be misled by the band’s name — kids who have outgrown their diapers are sure to enjoy this band’s dizzying range of Afro-Latin styles.

Kodo Drummers of JapanKodo Drummers of Japan

Wednesday, February 23 | 11 am
Hill Auditorium

This exuberant, yet highly disciplined, group lives on an island in Japan, where they submit to a rigorous training program along with an aggressive touring schedule. Their performances feature amazing rhythmic synchronicity, with the 1,000-pound o-daiko drum — carved from the trunk of a single tree — taking center stage for an amazing powerhouse of sound. This special performance has been scheduled during the Ann Arbor Public Schools’ Winter Break, providing a mid-week outlet to release some pent-up energy. An unforgettable experience!

Tickets for the Family Series are $30 for adults and $15 for children (includes Paul Taylor Dance Company and Baby Loves Salsa). Kodo tickets may be purchased for $16 adults and $8 children. Subscription renewal packets and brochures will be mailed in early May.

Tickets to individual events on the series go on sale on Monday, August 23 (via and Wednesday, August 25 (in person and by phone).

Tell us what you like about UMS’s Family Programming — and what you wish we would do differently.  How old are the children you bring to UMS Family Performances?