Jerry Falek

Literary Arts
Theater Arts

Available only to Schools

Jerry Falek began working with children more than 40 years ago, and has been with SPECTRA since its inception in 1980. With an M.Ed in Special Education, he performs as a storyteller, and teaches performing and visual arts throughout Central California in K-12 schools. His work has taken him to such diverse places as rural Alaska, Soledad Prison, the Children’s Discovery Museum, and Stanford Children’s Hospital. A central focus of his work is the social and emotional needs of children, especially those who are seen as marginalized, special needs, or high-risk.

He also directs the Kids on the Block, a puppet show about disabilities, that highlights inclusion, teasing, and individual differences, and has been an instructor in teacher-training programs at the regional and state level.

phone: (831) 454-9454

A Course in Creative Movement

Creative movement provides children with an opportunity to use their bodies expressively, and addresses the needs of kinesthetic learners. It teaches body awareness, balance, the aesthetics of movement, and the basics of movement for theatre. More importantly, it offers students a non-competitive, non-athletic activity in which they can feel strong and confident in their bodies. Creative movement also contributes to a child’s development by teaching concentration, spatial awareness, awareness of self and others, and self-discipline.

All classes begin with a warm-up that includes aerobics, stretching, body awareness, and anatomy. Each movement concept is introduced first as a solo skill and is then translated in the next class meeting to a small group skill. Recorded music is used from the third session onward. Class sessions cover shape, texture, balance, positive/negative space, counter-balance, and stagecraft.

All classes end with a period of performing the work of the day, giving students an opportunity to learn audience skills as well as how to formu-late and receive comments from peers.

Grade: K-8
Requirements: Classroom or multipurpose room.
Fee: $75/class meeting. No prep fee required. Minimum of five meetings recommended, fewer on request. Sessions are 45-60 minutes.
Arts discipline: Dance

Stories Alive: An Experience of Stories Integrating Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic Skills

Children live at the edge between oral language and body. In these work-shops, students will be given a chance to non-verbally enact stories. Sessions begin by looking carefully at a few pictures from the story of the day so they learn to read pictures — the precursor to reading text — and notice the art work of the illustrator. This is followed by listening to the story being told — not read — by the artist (listening skills, making pictures in the mind). And ultimately, the students will be led to create characters and scenes using their own bodies (integrating language with movement). We'll use stories such as Where the Wild Things Are, or ones being studied in class.

Grade: K-5
Fee: $75/class meeting. No prep fee required. Sessions are 45-60 minutes.
Arts discipline: Theater

Folk Dancing: Movement for the Timeless Joy of It

There’s a reason cultures around the world dance: dancing builds community, trust, and joy.

From an artistic point of view, your students will learn movement patterns (called figures), begin to internalize rhythm and beat, and be challenged to hear, analyze, and respond to cues in the music. Throughout the class period students critique themselves and monitor their own behavior, notice and solve their own problems, and discover for themselves and articulate what makes a good dance partner. They are guided to develop good communication skills with their partners through both constructive and positive feedback. And they’ll have a blast doing it!

There are other benefits. Elementary-aged children developmentally still want to learn kinesthetically. Folk dancing is cyclical, the patterns repeat, so slow learners get to practice the patterns over and over, having fun on the road to success instead of struggling to keep up. All students are challenged to extend their attention span because the dances don’t end after a single cycle. Beginning dancers will commonly look dazed after the first go-round and forget to continue the dance. More accomplished dancers stay right on track and keep going. Dancing is physical but not based on strength or speed. It’s everything they need at this age. You’ll see.

To sum it up, the students get music, movement, communication skills, group process, a chance to monitor and correct their own behavior, problem solving, an opportunity to be inventive, social skills, auditory processing, sequencing skills, and most will choose to have boys and girls dance together (believe it or not, they usually want to). And it’s so much fun.

Grade: K-8
Fee: $75/class meeting. No prep fee required. Sessions are 45-60 minutes.
Family event: Following a residency, at no extra charge, an evening event where children show their dancing skills to their families is available.
An evening of folk dancing for families without a workshop series is available by itself for $250.
Arts discipline: Dance

Storytelling: At the Crossroads of Oral and Written Language

When we ask students to write, we’re in fact asking them to do two things: assemble the narrative and then write it down. These are two very different skills. The difference is evident when you listen to how high school students usually speak adequately, but often write poorly.

Storytelling isolates the narrative skill and allows students to focus on it. We used to call it precision teaching. For many years I’ve be invited to middle and high schools in Santa Cruz, Palo Alto, and Alaska to teach storytelling as a way to improve both oral and written language skills.

We meet for two sessions. The students work in pairs, make their own observations and evaluations, and direct their own corrections. It’s student-centered learning at its best.

Every regional school at which this program has been offered has re-quested it for multiple years.

Grades 3-12
Fee: $75/class meeting. Minimum two meetings. No prep fee required.

Tableau: Bringing Theater to Literature and Social Studies

Science usually includes a lab to give students an experience of what they're learning, but what do literature and history have? THEATER! Actors use a highly malleable fun activity called tableau — a scene in stillness — to gain insight into the subtext, context, and details of a story.

A tableau is like a photograph where the actors portray not only the characters, but also the important objects of a scene in silence and stillness. Working with stories from literature or history, students will break the story into scenes, and then, in small groups, create tableaus. After each tableau has been presented, the audience gets to ask the actors questions that reveal the great range of possibilities for the subtext (inner motivation) and context (the setting and relationships) of the scene.

This can also be adapted to deepen the understanding and retention of science.

Grades 3-8
Fee: $75/class meeting. No prep fee required. Sessions are 45-60 minutes.
Arts discipline: Theater

Weaving: A Study in Patterns

Weaving is an ancient art still done at a human pace on a human scale. It is contemplative and calming. It involves pattern recognition, math con-cepts, attention to anomalies, fine motor skills, and a sense of touch. In this workshop, students will make and prepare their own looms and will be challenged to decipher — rather than simply be taught — the myriad of patterns that can be made with the variables of over/under and color. The program can support classroom study of other cultures.

Grades: 2-8
Requirements: Any number of sessions may be scheduled, but a mini-mum of three sessions is recommended.
Long term residencies are available.
Fee: $75/class meeting. No prep fee required. Sessions are 45-60 minutes.
Materials fee: dependent on the number of class meetings. All materials and looms furnished by the artist.
Arts discipline: Visual arts

*Special Event* Colonial Day

Invite Jerry to begin your celebration of colonial America with Native-American, African-American, and European-American stories. Follow this with basketry workshops, and culminate your day with the artist teaching dances of the period.

Grade: Elementary/Middle School
Fees: Negotiated based on scope
Arts discipline: Dance, theater, literary arts, visual arts.

The Holocaust

Performance Presentation. How do we inoculate our young people against complicity and complacency in the face of oppression and genocide? The stories in this program will open the students' eyes, ears and hearts to these issues. They will explore why some people stayed and others fled, how people get indoctrinated, and pose the dilemma of forgiveness. This program has been given in middle and high schools, as well as universities, in Central California.

Appropriate for grades 8 and above.
Requirements: Multipurpose room or classroom. Presentation lasts 90 min.
One Performance: $400
Two Consecutive Performances: $750
Three Consecutive Performances: $1100