Here’s the best of the best, at Flint Hills Children’s Fest

Jaime DeLage, Pioneer Press 5/28/15

The Flint Hills International Children’s Festival in St. Paul is among an increasingly rare breed in the United States, organizers say.

With the closure a few years ago of the Seattle International Children’s Festival, the only similar festivals left are in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland — and at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul.

St. Paul organizers make an argument for calling their festival the best in the country.

“Very few have a festival over a span of days and with such a selection of artists from all over the world,” said Dayna Martinez, artistic director of world music, dance and International Children’s Festival programming at the Ordway. “And I don’t know of any others that have as many school performances and involve the community as much as we do.”

Tickets for some of the more popular stage productions, such as “Bleu!,” a performance piece from Italy’s Compagnia TPO (10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. Saturday and noon and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Ordway’s Drake Room), and “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” from Scotland’s Visible Fictions (10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sunday at Landmark Center), are nearly gone.

But Martinez said she’s most excited about one of the free outdoor acts and two of the indoor productions that still have $5 tickets available:

The outdoor act is Cirq’ulation Locale, a Belgian crossover circus show that combines juggling, trampoline acrobatics and dance. Performances are at 10:30 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on Landmark Plaza.

The indoor acts are the productions of “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Tortoise and the Hare” by Lightwire Theater of New Orleans and the world-renowned Ugandan musician Samite.

Lightwire performs on a darkened stage with puppets and characters in softly glowing electroluminescent costumes.

Samite is known for his rich traditional African sounds, and his performance is a chance to experience the Ordway’s new Concert Hall without buying a $50 orchestra ticket.

“I would love for parents to see Samite with their children to experience the acoustics and the newness of Concert Hall,” Martinez said.

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