Performing Arts Series

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Office of School and Community Partnerships

Office of School and Community Partnerships

Performing Arts Series

dancersSince 2008, the Teachers College Performing Arts Series (PAS) has brought more than 7,000 children and their teachers from 35 Harlem schools onto campus to see children’s opera, theater and music. The goal of the Series is to expose K-12 students to high-quality live performances that will stimulate their minds, enhance their cultural knowledge and excite their emotional engagement in learning.

The PAS gives children who might otherwise never see live performing arts, the opportunity to attend regular productions given by high-quality performers. It also provides teachers with curriculum materials, lesson plans and resources to support the integration of music/theater education into the core subject areas.

The Series provides a repertoire of music and theater that reflects the diversity of the audience and builds creative educational connections for children outside of the traditional academic context. Productions address relevant academic and social topics, such as immigration, social justice, and history, among others.

Above, Dance Theatre of Harlem Students perform in the Cowin Auditorium.


Highlights from Previous Years

Discover Opera

The Manhattan School of Music returned to the Cowin Auditorium on March 30th to perform The Opera Duckling, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling. The Opera Duckling tells the story of an ugly duckling's transformation into a swan through the magic of music. (Grades 1-5)

L’Ensemble du Monde

On April 6th, L’Ensemble du Monde, a group of international musicians led by conductor Marlon Daniel, performed a selection of music by composers of African and Jewish descent, whose heroic struggles changed the fabric of music as we know it, in America and throughout the world. The performance featured American and European composers including William Grant Still, Ivan Fischer, Béla Bartók, and Samuel Barber. (Grades 6-12)

Discover Opera

On March 23rd, the Manhattan School of Music performed Beauty and the Baritone, a musical adaptation inspired by the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. In this story, The Littlest Opera Company is getting ready to present their new opera, Beauty and the Beast. Their plans are interrupted when a ruthless real estate developer buys their building and says she is going to tear it down in order to build a new tower. The opera company needs to find a baritone singer for the lead role in order to persuade everyone that the Littlest Opera Company is worth saving! (Grades 1-5)

Introduction to Jazz

The Manhattan School of Music performed an Introduction Jazz in Milbank Chapel on April 21st. This interactive show that introduced students to various instruments and styles of jazz, as well as the genre's history. This engaging performance had children clapping, stomping, and swaying to the music. (Grades K-5)


PAS 2015 Poster SmallDiscover Opera

On March 26, the Manhattan School of Music performed a musical adaptation of Liesl Shurtiff’s Rump dumbed Rumpetinck! An interactive story written especially for kids, Rumpertinck told the story a little boy who found out what his name was while trying to compose an opera for the King. He achieved his goal with the help of witches, trolls, and his best friend Red. In the end, he learned that his name is his destiny and the King appointed him to court composer. (Grades 1-5)

Introduction to Jazz

On April 16, the Manhattan School of Music performed an Introduction Jazz in Milbank Chapel. During the performance students heard various styles of jazz, including Dixieland, swing, and bebop! The event provided an additional discussion of the jazz terms swing, improvisation, and groove, and an exploration of various jazz instruments. (Grades K-5)

The Dance Theatre of Harlem

On Friday, May 1st  the Dance Theater of Harlem wrapped up the 2015 Performing Arts Series with IWARI!, a fun and interactive performance that showcased the legacy of the African Diaspora. The hour long assembly used dance, words, and music to explore significant events including Great Migration, Harlem Renaissance, and Civil Rights Movement. (Grades 6-12)

dancersDiscover Opera Charlotte's Webcast 2014 2

Discover Opera

On Thursday, February 27, the Manhattan School of Music brought Discover Opera back to TC with a performance of Charlotte’s Webcast, based on the classic E.B. White novel Charlotte’s Web. In this adaptation, Old MacDonald and his wife Melody own an opera farm where all the animals sing. The entire farm is preparing for a performance of Pigoletto at the county fair.

Mr. Zuckerman, a ruthless television executive has persuaded them all to be part of a reality show called Old MacDonald’s Opera Farm. A problem occurs when Mr. Zuckerman discovers that the piglet Wilbur is not a baritone but a countertenor. He refuses to allow him to sing in the opera.

Charlotte the Spider creates a media sensation by having Wilbur sing an aria on Youtube. The video goes viral and Mr. Zuckerman has no choice but to let Wilbur sing the leading role in the opera. (Grades 2-4)

Introduction to Jazz

On Thursday, April 10, the Manhattan School of Music’s Jazz Ensemble returned to provide students with an introduction to jazz music. The evening included explorations of a range of jazz instruments including voice, woodwinds, saxophone, piano, bass, and drums. A question and answer session followed the performances. (Grades 1-4)

Dance Theatre of Harlem

On March 27, the Dance Theatre of Harlem presented a dance entitled Tafiyah, which explored the African roots of dance and contemporary culture. The show was specially crafted for students in grades 5 and up and took place in Horace Mann 147.


Discover Opera

On Thursday, March 22nd, undergraduate students from the Manhattan School of Music performed The Opera Prince and the Singing Pauper, a musical parody of Mark Twain's famous novel, The Prinice and the Pauper, for students in grades 2-5, at 10:30a.m. The show included selections from musical theatre, pop and opera, and introduced children to the basic elements and vocabulary of opera and musicals. Students discovered how opera is a type of performance that extends beyond borders. They learned that opera is a cultural event that tells of fables, history and music from different times and places. It concluded with a Q

Dance Theatre of Harlem

On Thursday, March 27 at 10:30 a.m., performers from the Dance Theatre of Harlem engaged students in grades 2-6 in an interactive exploration of the history of the Diaspora. The interactive performance featured dance and multimedia. Written specifically for children, the production drew a connection between the audience and international and local history.


On Wednesday, April 4, the Manhattan School of Music presented its Amato opera-in-brief of Engelbert Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel for students in grades 2-5, at 10:30a.m. The show, originally based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale published in 1812, began with an explanation of the key vocabulary and elements of opera and concludes with a Q&A.

Through collaboration with Columbia Global Centers, Teachers College expanded and enriched components of the Performing Arts Series that spoke to global and international learning. Specifically, two of the performances held in the spring semester of 2011 focused on themes that examined historical and social issues in different cultures around the world, and the classroom materials for all four contained lesson plans on topics related to global issues.

Dance Theatre of Harlem

 On Tuesday, March 15, at 10:30a.m., the Dance Theatre of Harlem, introduced students in grades 3-6 to the world of classical ballet through an interactive, educational performance.   A combination of lecture and dance performance, Professional Training Program students engaged the viewers with their personal stories, insights into the art of ballet and Dance Theatre of Harlem, and lead an audience participation segment. Students learned that ballet is a universal language for telling stories through movement.

Discover Opera: The Secret Music Garden

On Tuesday, March 22, unndergraduate students from the Manhattan School of Music performed a musical piece based on the novel The Secret Garden. Students in grades 2-4 learned basic elements of opera and musicals, while discovering the capacity of opera to convey stories and emotion. The performance took place at 10:00 a.m.  The Manhattan School of Music has contributed to the vibrant culture of New York City for over 85 years. It is one of the premier private music conservatories in the nation, with nearly 275 faculty members dedicated to shaping over 800 students from 40 countries into world-class musicians.

Romeo and Juliet

On Wednesday, April 6 , a performance of an abbreviated version of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet helped to promote literacy and theater for students in grades 7-12.  The play, which follows the tragedy of two innocent lovers who fall victim to family hatred, explores the themes of social justice, citizenship, adolescence, love, tragedy, conflict and exile. The performance took place at 10:00a.m.

Introduction to Jazz

On Thursday, April 14, an ensemble of musicians from the Manhattan School of Music guided students in grades 3-5 through an exploration of historical, cultural and social influences that shaped America and the global history of music. Students were introduced to jazz terminology and instruments, along with various styles of jazz, such as Dixieland, swing and bebop. The performance took place at 10:30a.m.

In 2011, the Performing Arts Series teamed up with TC's Art Education program to celebrate the visual arts in a new project called Experiencing Cultures. This created several new opportunities for our public school partners, including a K-12 art competition with prizes for different grade levels, school visits from graduate assistants in art education, and the opportunity for K-12 teachers to attend lectures given by high profile speakers on the College campus.

Introduction to Jazz

Jazz instruments and concepts were brought alive for students from six Harlem schools when they visited Teachers College on April 8th, 2010. 

Jazz musicians from Manhattan School of Music directed and produced the performance. They introduced students to the elements of jazz such as improvisation, melody and rhythm through a special jazz family: Mother Jazz on vocals, Father Jazz on saxophone, three Groove Brothers on piano, bass and drums, Uncle Jimmy on trombone. They played some familiar jazz tunes, including When the Saints Go Marching In, and discussed the importance of communication while playing music and working together.

Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

From the Mixed Up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg was adapted for the stage as a musical by ArtsPower. The characters have run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and uncovered a mystery that they are determined to solve. Through their performance, students followed them through art history, New York City, and their search for identity.