Tag Archives: St. Louis arts

Five must see October events

There is an abundance of family friendly arts, culture, and Fall fun going on in St. Louis this month. Here are five events you won’t want to miss.

1. 20th Anniversary Celebration of Powder Valley Nature Center, Saturday, October 22, 10 am to 3 pm. FREE. Visitors can enjoy a photo scavenger hunt, a discovery table with live reptiles and amphibians, crafts for kids, live music, and more.

2. The St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and pianist Olga Kern perform Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1, Friday, October 21 at 10:30 am and Sunday, October 23 at 3 pm. This concert is a better fit for a musically engaged child 10 years old and up, but if you have a particularly focused kid or a prodigy of sorts, a 7 to 9 year old would most likely be fine. $25 to $110. This concert also features Elgar’s sublime Enigma Variations. Note: there is an additional concert on Saturday, October 22 at 8 pm but it is more expensive and later at night of course.

3. St. Louis Symphony Orchestra performs Nathaniel Stookey and Lemony Snicket’s The Composer is Dead, Sunday, October 30 at 3 pm. Kids tickets start at $7! A great Halloween event and wonderful opportunity for children who are beginning to learn about the sounds and textures of the orchestra. Watch a YouTube video about the production.

4. The Missouri Botanical Garden, Children’s Garden, is open through October 31 and then closed for the season. Climbing, pretend play galore, tree houses, a slide, ropes, caves, musical instruments, sand, no automatic flush bathrooms, and more! FREE to $5.

5. Halloween Free Family Day at CAM (Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis), Saturday October 29, 1 to 4 pm. FREE. Enjoy the museum’s exhibitions, art projects, face painting, storytelling, and more. Children are encouraged to dress in their Halloween costume.

Photo: Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

Craft Caboose in Kirkwood

Sparkle glue, foam stickers, paint, rubber stamps, popsicle sticks, colored sand, beads, paper flowers, clay, string, and more await you at Craft Caboose, a young children’s art studio located at 105 East Argonne Drive in Kirkwood. Fueled by the imagination and enthusiasm of owner Sharon Crnko, Craft Caboose is a relaxing and fun place to create art projects such as necklaces, spin art, animal puppets, clay figurines, wreaths, hats, flower pots, sand art, bracelets, crowns, bird houses, and more. The studio fee is $6 per visit (you can stay as long as you like) and art projects cost $1 to $8 each. If your child is more free form, you can also just mess around with more basic items like paper, scissors, markers, crayons, and paint. Doing a more open ended project like that costs starts at $1.50 depending on how many plastic jewels or foam sticker animals your little one decides to stick on his/her paper. Craft Caboose also offers classes and birthday parties in addition to walk-in visits.

My four year old daughter and I have visited Craft Caboose two times this summer and have typically spent $10 during our visit and stayed for about an hour each time. They also have a play area filled with puzzles, plastic dinosaurs, cars, blocks, matching games, books, trains, magnetic builders, and musical instruments. This is an excellent way to spend some time with your child while your paint laden projects dry a bit.

The staff at Craft Caboose is incredibly warm, encouraging, and inviting. In addition to having a great deal of knowledge about child development and art, they seem to intuitively know if your child loves to be squishy in paint or needs multiple paper towels to wipe goopy fingers in between paint strokes!

Craft Caboose Hours

Note: Be sure to check their web site for scheduled closings for booked birthday parties.

Sunday: noon to 4 pm
Monday: closed
Tuesday: 9:30 am to 5 pm
Wednesday: 9:30 am  to 5 pm
Thursday: 9:30 am to 5 pm
Friday: 9:30 am to 5 pm
Saturday: 9:30 am to 5 pm


1. During the summer, Craft Caboose can get busy in the mornings. The space is quite small, so if your child functions better in more quiet settings, consider going around lunch time or in the early afternoon when some kids are napping.

2. Considering the cost of paying for studio time and art projects, Craft Caboose is probably best suited for three year olds and up.

3. Thinking about bringing your infants with you while your older child creates? The small and very clean bathroom does not have a changing table, so try to arrive with a clean diaper on your baby if you can.

4. Free parking is readily available on nearby streets and the Kirkwood Farmers’ Market is across the street on Argonne Drive if you want to have a nice picnic lunch after your Craft Caboose visit.

5. Don’t feel restricted by the set art projects (e.g. make a bracelet, animal puppet, wreath). In some ways, they are there to jump start your imagination or to reduce the endless art creation choices if you and your child don’t know where to begin. As I mentioned above, you can also create free form artworks with the studio’s ample supplies. Just ask for assistance.

6. Birthday parties at Craft Caboose start at $150 for 8 guests. These are becoming very popular so book well in advance for your special date.

7. We really like the puzzles, games, cars, and trains in the play area adjacent to the art studio tables. If you have the time, allow a half hour or so to enjoy this cozy spot.

8. Are you and your child a little frazzled today? A visit to Craft Caboose can be a nice quiet and not too expensive dose of art therapy. It’s always a beautiful thing to see a kid work out their frustrations or anxieties with markers, paint, crayons, clay, or pencils. Plus, a new setting can help clear your child’s head.

9. If you’ve been to Yucandu, a wonderful art studio in Webster Groves, please note that Craft Caboose caters more to the under six year old set. Yucandu has some gorgeous and truly unique options for decoupage projects and mosaics, but is more expensive than Craft Caboose and in general the projects require more dexterity and patience–perfect for older kids. I took my then three year old daughter to Yucandu last year and we were there for over two hours creating a small painted paper house. She had fun but she almost fell asleep while I was glazing and blow drying the piece!

10. Be sure to pick up your Craft Caboose Studio Pass on your visit. After four paid studio visits, you get a fifth studio visit free ($6 value).

Photos: Jennifer Lin

Death of Klinghoffer at Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Are you mesmerized by the works of contemporary artists Bill Viola, Shirin Neshat, and William Kentridge? Do you hold your breath at the subtle gestures embedded in William Forsythe’s choreography? Did Meredith Monk’s work (whose performances were utterly filled with undefinable sound) used to keep you up at nights? Have you felt the purity of Bach cello suites resonate in your hands and heart? Have you lost all track of time and place when listening to a choir rehearse in a cathedral in some tiny corner of Europe? Have you “seen” sound float up into the air when hearing a Urtiin duu (longsong)? And does the tender yet collapsing beauty of Prokofiev’s works make you close your eyes?

If some of this makes sense to you (and even if it doesn’t!), go experience Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s production of The Death of Klinghoffer. You’ll discover unspoken pieces of the artists and sounds above throughout a moving and provoking performance. No need to get hung up on the formality or structure of opera–this production is simply and gloriously meaty art. The brilliant score, stunning chorus and orchestra performances, singing, lighting, staging, video projections, gestures, use of props, and stillness will wow you and make your heart ache a little in the communal darkness of the audience.

The Death of Klinghoffer is based on the true story of a hijacking of the ship, the Achille Lauro, in 1985, by Palestinian terrorists and the murder of one of the passengers, Leon Klinghoffer. The 1991 opera was written by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams with an evocative and poignant libretto by Alice Goodman.

Conductor Michael Christie literally eats this score up. If you have a chance, sit in the theater where you can see him conduct. He sings every word with the artists on stage and wraps the orchestra (members of the St. Louis Symphony) together so cohesively, despite the crazy entrances, textures, and meter changes. Stage Director James Robinson has brought together a subtle, smart, and powerful vision of this opera. I absolutely loved the video projections of Greg Emetaz. Chorus Master R. Robert Ainsley did a superb job with the chorus whose moments on and off stage were some of the most memorable sounds in an opera production that I’ve ever heard. Baritone Brian Mulligan who performs the role of Leon Klinghoffer, was a standout. Beyond having an incredibly rich, solid, powerful, and tender voice, he has a unique dreamy yet somehow familiar sound. He sounds like coming home. For me, Brian Mulligan sings so perfectly the most moving phrase of the entire production. This phrase is seemingly so mundane, yet subtlety holds the immensity of everything that this story, this history, and this opera stirs up. Leon Klinghoffer sings to his wife surrounded by terrorists on the sunny deck of the ship in their last moment together (although they don’t know it yet), “I should have worn a hat.”

A huge bravo to Opera Theatre of St. Louis for having the courage to bring this production to light, the intelligence to present meaningful outreach and very thoughtful commentary and discussion, and the creativity and persistence to generate support from the community both in St. Louis and beyond. I feel lucky to have experienced this production.

(The only tiny criticism I feel worth mentioning… the bird “puppet” on a stick at the end was too literal and looked very awkward from the side seats. It kind of broke the moment.)

Three performances of The Death of Klinghoffer remain. Tuesday, June 21 at 1 pm; Thursday, June 23 at 8 pm; and Saturday, June 25 at 8 pm. Tickets $25 to $120. Special promotion for the Tuesday, June 21 at 1 pm show ONLY: mention the promo code HOOKYDK online or when you call the box office, and get tickets for $35 in section 2 of the theater. These seats are regularly $100 each.

Recent reviews of Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s The Death of Klinghoffer

St. Louis Post-Dispatch review
The Wall Street Journal review
The New York Times review

The Death of Klinghoffer discussion guides on the Opera Theatre of St. Louis’s web site.

Photo: Opera Theatre of St. Louis

Circus Flora’s “Little Top” perfect for the squirmy set

Jam packed into one hour, Circus Flora presents a delightfully entertaining performance designed for the irregular attention spans of most toddlers and preschoolers. The “Little Top” shows (on Wednesday mornings at 10 am) are abbreviated versions of Circus Flora’s full length 25th anniversary production and also highlight a great deal of acrobatics and animals doing humorous and amazing feats.

We went to the show this morning and brought my four-year old daughter. After consuming some heavily salted boxed circus popcorn, she settled into her front-row side box seat and grabbed onto her Dad’s leg. Then her eyes popped wide open. There were miniature horses and donkeys, enormous and comedic horses, juggling, dogs running around on their hind legs (and front legs for that matter–that was just whacky), a woman demonstrating her abs of steel on a very, very high rope, a family riding bicycles on the high wire, the St. Louis Arches (a youth circus performance troupe) flipping all over the place, a rooster, a sweet and wry clown, a mystical narrator, beautiful music, and plenty of outstretched ta-da arms to get the audience cheering. I also loved how engaging all the performers in Circus Flora are. During the end of show bows, my daughter covered her ears because the tent got pretty loud. One of the performers smiled at her and covered his ears too. Compared to last year’s “Little Top” Circus Flora production, this one is much tighter in continuity, cleaner in technique, and a lot more daring.

If you want a little wow, a little magic, or a little inspiration for you and your child this summer, get your tickets to a “Little Top” Circus Flora show soon. Only two performances of the special one hour production remain: Wednesday, June 15 at 10 am and Wednesday, June 22 at 10 am. The “Little Top” shows are $8 to $18 per person. Children ages 2 and younger do not require a ticket, however, must be seated on an adult’s lap.

How to buy Circus Flora tickets
About the circus stars
Some tips about your visit from my earlier post
Directions to the show

Chinese Culture Days

The Missouri Botanical Garden’s Chinese Culture Days is this coming weekend, Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22. This annual event highlights the vast and fascinating culture, arts, and history of China. Parades, circus performances, cooking and painting demonstrations, martial arts, fashion shows, tea tastings, traditional Chinese music concerts, folk dancing, and plenty of delicious food to sample will give you and your family much to discover. Finding quality Chinese culture is a bit of a challenge in the middle of the Midwest, so now’s your chance to experience a little something different! Read more about the weekend’s programs.

The St. Louis Chapter of Families with Children from China (FCC) presents the festival’s Children’s Program with hands-on activities, including creating a dragon boat and fans, and trying out Chinese jump ropes, chopsticks, and yo-yos. All children’s activities are indoors at the Ridgway Visitor Center.

Chinese Culture Days
Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22
10 am to 5 pm both days
Missouri Botanical Garden

$12 adults (13 to 64 years old)
$10 Seniors (65+)
$5 Children (3 to 12 years old)
$5 Garden members
Free (members’ children 3 to 12 years old)

* Parking for any of the Botanical Garden’s big events like this can become very busy. If possible, have someone in your group drop off people at the front entrance and then go park. If the parking lot is full, try the lot at Shaw and Vandeventer.

* Bring snacks for your young children. In the past, we’ve ended up waiting for 20 minutes or more in concession lines. Try eating earlier to avoid some of the crowds.

* Buy your tickets online to save waiting around time at the Botanical Garden. If you’re a member, have your membership number handy to get the reduced price.

* Performances in the outdoor Cohen Amphitheater can get crowded and you might end up sitting or standing pretty far back. Bring your binoculars if you want to see some of the Chinese acrobat contortions close up!

* If you have time, be sure to visit the Children’s Garden or play in some of the fascinating tree houses located throughout the Garden.

* Consider becoming a member of the Missouri Botanical Garden if you’re not already. The member benefits and discounts are quite generous. Check with your workplace for any matching gift programs as well.

A video from last year’s festival.

Top photo: Erin Whitson, Courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden
Bottom photo: Brent Johnston, Courtesy of the Missouri Botanical Garden

Places to go: May 7 and 8

It’s Mother’s Day weekend! Okay, so I had to make my own Mother’s Day lunch reservation and send my husband a link to a gift I had my eye on… but I will take whatever bit of relaxation I can get over the weekend, even if it was self-initiated. Here are some family friendly places and events to experience May 7 and 8:

1. Art Fair at Laumeier is a fun family event where you can view a wide variety of art for sale and talk with the artists. While you are at  the fair, enjoy the live music, children’s activities, concessions (lines can be long), and of course the sculptures throughout Laumeier Sculpture Park. Head into the Eastern Woodland area for a quiet break from the Art Fair mania. Parking can be tough and far away from the entrance, so consider being dropped off with the kids (and have your loving husband go park) or bring your stroller/baby sling. $8 for adults, $5 children ages 6-11, and children under age of 6 are free. May 6, 7, and 8. Read more about enjoying the Laumeier Sculpture Park with kids in my St. Louis Sprout & About article.

2. St. Louis Storytelling Festival. On Saturday, May 7, the annual festival presents many free, family storytelling events throughout the day. No reservations required. By the St. Louis Arch.

3. Cinco de Mayo Celebration on Cherokee Street. Saturday, May 7, 11 am to 9:30 pm. Floats, minstrels, puppets, Elvis impersonators, drag queens, Mexican wrestlers, robot makers, live music, art demonstrations, mask making, and more, are sure to generate some wide eyed kids. Go celebrate the vibrancy of Cherokee Street and the neighborhood’s Mexican heritage.

4. Citygarden. Free and open daily from sunrise to 10 pm, Citygarden is a beautiful spot to interact with outdoor art (touching is okay), play with water on a warm day, climb stairs, skip, hop, and run. Bring snacks or lunch (the cafe food is just okay and kind of overpriced for what you get).

5. Grant’s Farm is open for the season! The park is open this Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm and Sunday from 9:30 am to 4 pm. Enjoy a fun tram ride while viewing the animals, see giant turtles, watch the elephants, ride the carousel, feed the crazy baby goats, and sample a beer. Also don’t miss the famous Clydesdales on your way out near the parking lot. $11 for parking and free admission. Fees for feeding the ravenous goats, riding the carousel, and concessions.

Circus Flora, a little magic for your soul

Are you a fan of the Tiger Lillies, Tom Waits, Krzysztof Kieslowski, the accordion, whimsy, and um, face paint? Or, do you just like a little no brainer entertainment, sawdust, laughter, animal antics, and popcorn? Then here’s something for you. I mean, for your child.

St. Louis’s very own nonprofit, unique one-ring circus, Circus Flora, opens its summer show on June 2. Tickets for these delightful performances are on sale now. Celebrating their 25th Season, Circus Flora gives you heartfelt twisting acrobatics, humorous clowns, amazing “choreographed” animals, solid music performances, rope and ribbon dancing, and maybe a little bit of inspiration, among other circus thrills. Circus Flora isn’t exactly about the utmost precision in performance, but there is a genuine, mysterious, magical, and memorable quality about this company.

This year’s production, “Vagabond Adventures,” reunites Circus Flora favorites: the Flying Wallendas, the St. Louis Arches, the Flying Pages, and the famous clown, Giovanni Zoppé as Nino, along with several new acts.

Tickets start at $8 and shows run June 2 through June 26. Children under 2 are free when seated on an adult lap.

Some tips:

1. If you’re bringing a child under the age of 5, consider the Wednesday at 10 am performances. These are one hour shows and cost considerably less.

2. If you don’t mind sitting up close, try one of the side box seats. They are less expensive than the center boxes but since the show is essentially in the round, you don’t really miss much in terms of sightlines. Your child will be amazed at watching dogs and other animals run around the ring right in front of them.

3. If you have allergies to dust, fur, or hay, etc… take your Nasonex or SOMETHING before the show. The tent is air conditioned but the animals and performers stir up a lot of allergens.

4. If you are one of those types who prefers to drive round and round for free parking, arrive early! There is a nearby paid lot as well.

5. In case your child is wondering, yes… there are port-a-potties. Bring your hand sanitizer.

6. Last year, there were pony rides adjacent to the tent. Bring your camera (and your cash).

7. There is NO photography allowed inside the tent during the performances.

Photos: Scott Raffe

Story Time at Subterranean Books

Looking for a different and almost magical story time in the St. Louis area? If you haven’t experienced one with Georgy Rock at Subterranean Books at 6275 Delmar Boulevard, you’re missing something quite unique.

YouTube Video of January Story Time.

A favorite storyteller in the region, Georgy Rock (recently named the best storyteller in St. Louis Magazine’s A-List 2010) spins tales, shares stories, warms hearts, sings, and generally captivates kids and their parents on Thursdays from 11:30 to noon at Subterranean Books. She has 30 years of experience telling stories and in 2009, was ordained a maggid, or Jewish itinerant storyteller.

Last Fall, when one of our usual Thursday morning classes was canceled, my daughter and I had a chance to hear Georgy Rock at Subterranean. Up in the cozy second loft like floor of the bookstore, Georgy welcomed all the children by name and sang/spoke her way through four books. She has a beautiful ability for creating a seamless tempo in her readings and integrating song and humor throughout the event. She also sang a couple of songs that involved hand and arm movements which the kids enjoyed. There were only about six children there when we went, infants to preschoolers.


* It is lunch time for most kids at this time, so many of the children ate a few quiet snacks and sucked down milk/juice boxes. Come prepared with some fruit or semi crumb-free snack.
* Parking on Delmar during the week at lunch time isn’t too bad–you can usually find some street parking. There is also a public ramp about a block from the bookstore. Be sure to bring your quarters!
* A few doors down is a great kids store, City Sprouts. They have a lovely play area with trains and kitchen toys, plus plenty of kids clothes, gifts, furniture, and design ideas. City Sprouts also has a pretty extensive selection of Tea Collection clothing.
* Want to spend the afternoon in the area? Nice map of Delmar.


An important note: Subterranean Books is struggling financially to stay afloat, as are many independent bookstores. If you have time, browse the store before or after story time. There are some incredibly thoughtful and smart selections of children’s books. We are library and bookstore junkies and were happily surprised at some of the new titles we discovered. Please remind your kids to be gentle with the books while browsing–this tiny store doesn’t have much wiggle room on their inventory.

Read more about story time from UniversityCityPatch.com.

New Ballet Studio Opens in Crestwood

Kay Tabisaura, who has been teaching in the Dance Co-Op space inside the Crestwood Mall, has just opened up her own space in the same mall. Her studio, East West Ballet, is located near Sears. A former dancer with Ballet Philippines and Singapore Dance Theatre, Kay is a certified and registered teacher with the Royal Academy of Dance. In addition to her time in St. Louis, she has taught in Toronto and Hamilton (Canada) and in Los Angeles and Orange County.

Her current schedule includes classes for preschoolers up through adults.

I’ve been taking her adult classes for about a year and have really enjoyed the small class sizes, thoughtful technique corrections, musicality, and ability to get her students moving across the floor. I’ve taken adult ballet classes all over the country in more urban areas and greatly appreciate Kay’s dedication to adult dancers and well thought out barre (yes, adults take a little longer to warm up!). She even offers a Sunday afternoon intermediate ballet class–the only one I know of in the St. Louis area. (There is a beginning class at COCA on Sundays, but it is designed for dancers new to ballet, is not available year-round, and requires you to sign up for a whole semester.)

My preschooler has also had fun in Kay’s Music and Movement class–it’s a bit of a Kindermusik/creative movement hybrid class.

The new studio space is on the small side, but the floor is wonderful. It features new Marley on a subflooring that has some nice spring to it. You will feel secure in your turns. There is also ample, free parking in the Crestwood Mall parking lot.

Class prices at East West Ballet are one of the best values in St. Louis County. Adult class cards are $53 for 5 classes ($10.60 per class) or $12 for one drop in class. Tuition for the kids classes start at $40 a month with discounts available when multiple family members enroll. For adult dancers (non-professional) in St. Louis, you can expect to pay $15 to $20 per class at other studios in the region, so again, I reiterate, East West Ballet is an incredible value!

One last note, East West Ballet embodies more serious ballet teaching but without the scariness or formality of some studios. (You know, those studios where the teacher has a stick, rolls his/her eyes at the adult dancers, and the girls have troubling eating concerns.) Kay is very knowledgeable and experienced, but practical, patient, and warm in her teaching approach. Also, East West Ballet is not a competition studio and it is not a “dress up in princess costumes and prance in recitals so we can get your parents’ money studio.” Just straightforward, smart teaching in a clean and serene space.

More information at 314.398.9960 or East West Ballet.