Ordway Artistic Director Gives Us a Sneak Peak at 2015 Flint Hills International Children’s Festival

Jen Sandbo, RedCurrent 5/26/15

Celebrating its 15th year, the Flint Hills International Children’s Festival has inspired a generation young audiences by showcasing creativity through performing arts—as well as engaging, hands-on activities. The 2015 festival takes place May 30 and 31. RedCurrent got the inside scoop on the weekend festivities from Dayna Martinez, artistic director of world music, dance and International Children’s Festival.

Dayna has worked on the Children’s Festival since it premiered in 2001—minus the two years she lived in New York City. She has been with the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts for almost 20 years, and in 2012 was promoted to artistic director. That same year, she became responsible for festival programming.

“Each year, we present four to five international artists,” Dayna said. “We usually have four indoor stages and a big outdoor spectacle. And, we present local dance groups and bands, both professional and youth performing groups, on two outdoor stages—plus the story tellers for the Xcel Story Time Garden. This year we have over 650 local and regional artists who will be performing during the week of the festival.”

Needless to say, it isn’t an easy job.

Dayna stays busy all year managing the festival budget, scouting potential performers and working with departments involved in everything from signage to rentals and education to community engagement. When she’s not knee-deep in that work, she is tackling her other gig: curating the Ordway’s world music and dance season.

In this role, coupled with her festival responsibilities, Dayna attends booking conferences and other festivals to see various performances, even traveling overseas.

“It’s never a dull moment, that’s for sure,” she says.

Dayna is clearly the best person to shed light on what to do at this year’s Children’s Festival, so RedCurrent asked her for a list of must-see activities for the weekend. Here are her suggestions:

1. Attendees can expect to not only experience amazing performing artists from all over the world as members of the audience, but they can also expect to be inspired to be creative themselves when they create art in the activity tents outside in the parks. All make-and-take art activities are free.

2. Any of the performances on the indoor stages would definitely be must see, and tickets to see the international artists are very affordable, only $5 per ticket.

3. Cirq’ulation Locale, a trampoline circus act from Belgium is a must-see. They perform on Saturday and Sunday, at 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

4. “The Xcel Story Time Garden with decorative banners commissioned by the Ordway from kite artist, Barbara Meyer,” Dayna says. “Barbara also does a spectacular kite display inside the Ordway lobby spaces that everyone should check out.”

5. Also, everyone must check out the artwork created by amazingly talented student artists that are a part of the Clear Channel ARTwalk. These art pieces are displayed in storefronts all over downtown St. Paul and can be viewed using the map on the Festival website. Or, there are guided tours during the family weekend of the Festival at 10:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. each day.

In addition to the above, Dayna is especially excited about the Lightwire Theatre production of The Ugly Duckling & The Tortoise and the Hare. “I love how this company makes familiar stories like the Hans Christian Anderson story and Aesop’s fable completely new again with their use of electroluminescent costumes and puppets,” she says. “This show is great fun and truly beautiful.”

You will find Dayna at all of the above activities throughout the weekend; however, her favorite way to spend her two days is “to just wander through the festival grounds to watch families enjoy the performances and art-making—adults and children together. It makes me feel proud that the Ordway and Flint Hills Resources have been able to partner to bring this great event to Twin Cities’ families for 15 years and counting,” she says.

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