New Victory Arts Break — Arts Around the World

Welcome to this season’s final week of New Victory Arts Break! Guided by New Victory Teaching Artists, Arts Break is a curriculum designed for the millions of families stuck at home to incorporate the performing arts into their learning. Show or no show, our nonprofit is committed to bringing the performing arts to the widest possible audience, and inspiring you to make art, and make memories, together!

Stay up to date on Arts Break and other arts-based activities! Opt in to New Victory email.

Explore All Arts Breaks
New Victory Arts Break – Arts Around the World

From percussion and playmaking to magic and movement, we’ve explored a huge variety of art forms these past few months. For this season’s final Arts Break, we’re taking a five-day tour of performing arts around the world, celebrating a handful of the many nations whose artistic traditions have graced the New Victory stage. So, pack your suitcase, buckle that seatbelt and prepare for dep-art-ure!

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday


¡Cantemos! Let’s Sing!

25 – 30 minutes, Ages 5 – 11

Today we’ve landed in Mexico, birthplace of musician Sonia De Los Santos. Sonia recently brought her show Fiesta con Sonia De Los Santos (New Victory 2019) to our stage, performing songs evoking the sights and sounds of her cultural heritage. Let’s warm up to play some music by moving to the rhythms of Sonia’s “Esta Es Tu Tierra.”

Let’s make some music together! New Victory Teaching Artist Ana Cantorán Viramontes, who is also from Mexico, loves the rhythms of cumbia, a style of dance music from Colombia that’s popular throughout Latin America. In this activity, join Ana as she makes instruments using objects found around the house and uses them to play a cumbia rhythm! This activity is also available in Spanish.

Now it’s your turn! Let’s start with the guiro.

A clean and empty metal can or plastic water bottle, tape, stickers or any other decorative item, something to play your guiro with (a paintbrush, plastic fork, small dowel, whatever you can find!)

Step One: If you are using a can, place tape along the open edge of your can to make sure that you are protected from any sharp edges.

Step Two: Decorate your instrument! Make sure to leave one side of the can or bottle empty of decor – you’ll need space to brush up against your instrument to make your desired sounds!

Step Three: Play your instrument. While holding the can in one hand, explore different sounds you can make with different playing sticks. Try to get a hang of the rhythm Ana offered in the video. Have fun!

Let’s expand our instrument collection even more with maracas!

Materials: A cardboard tube, tape, uncooked beans or rice (or beads—anything that is tiny and makes a shaky noise), scissors, paper or stickers for decoration, glue (optional)

Step One: Take the toilet paper roll and lightly bend one edge of it inward to create one side of a flap. Then, bend the other side down to create a pocket at one end of the roll. Tape or glue down this side to make sure it’s secure.

Step Two: Fill your paper roll with uncooked beans (or whatever item you’re using to make your sound). Fill it up a little bit at a time, shaking (carefully) as you go to add the amount of beans that makes the sound you like best. When you’re happy with the sound, create the same pocket closure on the other side and tape or glue it down to secure.

Step Three: Decorate your roll with stickers! If you’d like to cover the roll in paper, you can do that first, as Ana suggests in the video, or cut out shapes and tape them on now. Whatever makes the instrument feel most like you!

Step Four: Shake it! Grab your instruments and start a family band.

Share your instruments with us! Just tag us @newvictorytheater when you post a photo or video of your instruments in action on Instagram.

Bringing It Home

Sonia De Los Santos sings songs about her journey from Monterrey, Mexico, to America. She celebrates her family, where they came from and the importance of community—no matter where you build it. In this activity, learn more about where your family is from and celebrate your heritage!

Materials: Map worksheet, crayons

Step One: Print out this worksheet, or use it as a digital reference.

Step Two: With your family, have a conversation about all the places on the map your family comes from. If you’ve printed the worksheet, color in each place and draw lines to show your family’s journey to where you live now.

Where I Am From

Step Three: How do you practice your culture at home? Through food? Music? Games? Honor your family by decorating your map, inspired by the prompts on your worksheet. Do you have more ideas? Use them to bring your map to life!

Ready for one last course? Traditional foods are an important—and often unique—part of every culture. Below, check out the first video from Cut’s Kids Try series to see American kids trying different breakfast foods from around the world.

Local tastes and customs even influence the menus of restaurants you might think of as quintessentially American. This Buzzfeed video explores the wide variety of culturally specific McDonald’s menu items around the world.

Does your family have a specialty dish? What is it?

Haley Gerana

My family (especially my grandma) cooks a lot of Puerto Rican dishes: rice with peas, pork, empanadas, and rice and beans. We also cook a lot of pastas, especially my uncle because he’s full Italian. – Haley Gerana, third-year New Victory Usher


Vamos Dançar Samba! Let’s Dance the Samba!

25 – 30 minutes, Ages 6 – 12

Yesterday, we sang in Mexico. Today, we dance in Brazil. From culture to culture, dance can be a means of storytelling, a prelude to battle, a ceremonial rite… or just a pure celebration! In Brazil, dance is central to Carnaval, a four-day festival before Lent known for its colorful and joyous parades.

Colorful Carnaval Costuming
Colorful Carnaval costuming!

Brazil! Brazil! (New Victory 2012) captured the atmosphere of Carnaval and highlighted the twin Brazilian passions of soccer, yes, but also samba, a dance style originally brought to Brazil by enslaved Africans that is now centered in Brazilian culture.

Ready to move? Let’s kick it with New Victory Teaching Artist Melle Phillips as she instructs us in the basics of samba, which she studied while traveling to Rio de Janeiro.

Now that you’ve got the moves, it’s time to get dressed for the dance party. Let’s make a Carnaval mask!

Materials: Paper plates or construction paper (at least one for each mask), pencils or markers, glue, decorative materials (e.g. feathers, beads, etc.), ribbon or string to tie the masks, a hole punch, scissors


Step One: Draw your mask on either a paper plate or construction paper. You can use our template as a guide or create your own fun shape! Just make sure it’s big enough to fit.

Draw a template

Step Two: Cut out your mask outline. Don’t forget to cut out the eyes so you can see!

Cut out your mask

Step Three: Now the real fun begins! Using small pieces of colored paper, feathers, beads and glue, cover the surface of the mask as extravagantly as you want. But be sure not to cover up the eye-holes!

Decorate Your Mask

Step Four: Finally, cut or punch holes on both sides of the mask, tie a ribbon to each side, and try your samba dance moves while wearing your newly created mask. Muito bem!

Carnaval may have happened a few months ago, but what is time anymore? Put on your mask and share a photo or video of your samba skills with us Instagram @newvictorytheater. We’re excited to see your moves!

Bringing It Home

What are some dances that you do in your home? Is there a dance your culture is known for? Have a dance party and celebrate your culture! Unsure what your dance heritage might be? Check out this video from INSIDER for 20 different dances done around the world.

What is one of your favorite cultural celebrations? What are some of the things you do for it?

America Hernandez

My favorite cultural celebration is the one on November 1st. It’s a celebration for those who have passed away. My family sets up a table with their favorite dishes, lights up candles at noon, buys fruit, candies, and other goodies they loved when they were alive. We pray and spend time together with family. – America Hernandez, first-year New Victory Usher


Gie It Laldy! Give It All You’ve Got!

30 – 35 minutes, Ages 6 – 13

From animal-centric fables to epic tales of superhuman feats, different cultures favor different forms of storytelling. Scotland in particular has a rich tradition of swashbuckling adventure stories. Tales that raise your heart rate and take you on a journey are as Scottish as haggis and tartans, and Glasgow theater company Visible Fictions has brought multiple such stories to the New Victory stage, including The Mark of Zorro (New Victory 2013).

In this activity, pack an adventure backpack with New Victory Teaching Artist (and budding stop motion animator) Rebecca Gerrard, and transform your home into an adventureland filled with storytelling opportunities!

Create Your Alter Ego

There’s no better way to be the hero of your own adventure than in character! Or, more specifically, a superhero! If you were an avenger of justice, what would you fight for? What kind of hero would you be? In this activity inspired by The Mark of Zorro, create your alter ego with a little help from this madlib.


Bringing It Home

If you enjoyed map-making and character-building, put your visual storytelling skills to the test again by drawing your superhero’s story in their natural habitat: a comic book strip!

Materials: Markers, comic strip template

Step One: Print out the comic strip template, or draw your own based on ours.

Step Two: Decide what you want your story to be about. HINT: Use your superhero character and your adventure backpack map as inspiration for your adventure story.

Step Three: Draw and color the comic book panels. Remember to tell a story. How does your story begin? What happens next? How does it end?

Step Four: Now it’s time to add dialogue to your comic strip. What do you imagine that the characters say to one another? Narration and onomatopoeia are two other ways to help tell your story and make it interesting. Can you include those in your comic strip? HINT: Onomatopoeia are words that imitate sounds. Boing! Sizzle! Kaboom!

Step Five: Once you’re done with your comic strip, show your family what you’ve created! Can you assign roles to people and act out your comic strip like a short play?

How do you tell stories in your family? Do you read together? Act out movies? Improvise new stories? Tonight, try a method of storytelling you’ve not yet tried together as a family!


Storytelling in a Tick (of the clock)!

20 – 25 minutes, Ages 6 – 11

Just a quick trot south from Scotland will bring us to England, which is where we’ll be spending our Thursday. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Austen, Wilde—England has been home to so many enduring storytellers, and alongside those timeless stories comes a long tradition of adaptation—telling an existing story from a new perspective. The theater artists at the New Vic Theater Staffordshire recently brought their innovative adaptation of Around the World in 80 Days (New Victory 2019) to our stage. Take a look:

To flex our creative muscles, and to celebrate our week of world travel, try this warm-up as a family. In Around the World in 80 Days, Phileas Fogg and his ne’er-do-well sidekick, Passepartout, have to pack for an 80-day voyage. Brainstorm what you might bring on such an incredible adventure with this alphabet game!

Materials: Creative minds and quick imaginations!

Game Instructions: In order from youngest to oldest, make a list of what you might bring on a trip around the world. The trick is that you must create the list in alphabetical order one item at a time, and you must remember and restate each item before adding the next! Keep going until your traveling troupe makes it all the way from A to Z! Here’s an example of New Victory staff members Mia Sommese and Archer Brinkley trying it out.

Now you’re ready to stage your adaptation. But time is of the essence! Play along with New Victory Teaching Artist Curt James as he takes on the challenge of a rapid-fire adaptation using whatever he can find around him at home—all in 60 seconds or less!

Are you up to the challenge? Fast as you can, ready, set, adapt!

Materials: Slips of paper, pen, your favorite story, random materials (they can be anything!)

Step One: Read through your favorite story, or if it’s particularly long, read through some of your favorite scenes.

Step Two: On some slips of paper, write down locations or characters from your story.

Step Three: Have someone in your family set a timer for one minute (or a shorter length of time, if you really want to challenge yourself). When the timer starts, pluck one slip of paper at random from the pile. You have one minute to make that character or location come to life in your home using random objects you might find! Think:

  • A blanket could be: a cape, a floor, a tent, a car, a long ponytail
  • A pencil could be: a wand, a torch, a brush
  • A bowl could be: a steering wheel, a drum, a hat, a seat

Step Four: Keep taking turns playing the game. See who can transform in the shortest amount of time!

BONUS: Can you envision some innovative ways to show this story on stage inspired by items you used in this game? Draw out what your stage adaptation would look like!

Bringing It Home

Do you enjoy traveling? Have you ever immersed yourself in another culture? Check out the TED Talk below from 5th grader Joshua Moody to hear his perspective on the importance of learning about other cultures.

Where are some places you and your family have traveled? How did you pack when you got ready for your family adventure? If you were going to plan a new family trip, where would you go, and how would you pack to make sure your trip is the most joyous?


Asere, ¡baila conmigo! Dance with me, buddy!

30 – 35 minutes, Ages 6 – 12

We’ve done a lot of travelling this week, but we do have one last stop on our journey. Today, we’re getting on our feet again in the vibrant land of Cuba. Get in a dancing mood with the breathtaking ensemble of Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba, whose energy and impeccable artistry you may remember from Cuba Vibra! (New Victory 2015).

Let’s learn the basic steps of the cha-cha-cha, a traditional Cuban dance.

Step One: As a family, discuss what you know about cha-cha-cha. What does the name “cha-cha-cha” make you think about? Once you’ve discussed it, get a short rundown of the history and characteristics of the cha-cha-cha from PBS’s Explore the Music.

Step Two: Listen to the following three versions of the song “Sway”—by Xavier Cugat, Michael Bublé and The Pussycat Dolls—and think about what distinguishes them from each other.

Step Three: Watch this instructional video from Krambo Dance to learn the basic steps of the cha-cha-cha.

Step Four: Practice the video’s cha-cha-cha moves with your family to the various versions of “Sway.” HINT: Dancing in front of a mirror may help.

Step Five: Perform for each other!

Going Through the Motions

Let’s kick it up a notch and create our own dance! Creating your own choreography might seem like a tremendous challenge, but you can invent your own dance moves anytime, anywhere! Watch as New Victory Teaching Artist Alberto Denis creates some original movement based on a familiar concept—a regular household routine. This activity is also available in Spanish.

Now it’s your turn! Follow the instructions below to turn the motions one of your daily routines into a piece of whimsical choreography.

Materials: Some space, some music, your body

Step One: Choose a routine you do regularly. A morning routine works well. Maybe it’s brushing your teeth or journaling before breakfast. This should be something simple, and something you do often enough that you can walk through the steps in the same order multiple times.

Step Two: Once you’ve chosen your routine, do it! Walk through the movements enough times that you’re able to repeat it and remember it. Once these movements are solidified, this becomes your sequence, or phrase. This phrase will be the foundation of your choreography.

Step Three: Now that you have your phrase, it’s time to add some elements that make it a bit more complex and artful. Try:

  • Making a movement bigger or smaller
  • Speeding up or slowing down a section of the phrase
  • Making part of the sequence larger or shorter
  • Repeating a movement two or three times in a row
  • Moving in reverse

Take your time with this step. Keep exploring all the different ways you can modify your phrase, step by step, until you’ve created a new sequence that you are super happy with.

Step Four: Now it’s time to add some music. Pick a track that fits the mood of your movement, or level up like Alberto did and make your own customized track! Practice your dance with different music to see how sound informs the way you perform it.

Step Five: Put it all together! Put on the music and perform your routine for your family.

Bringing It Home

How can you use dance and musical inspiration to make you feel closer to your family’s heritage? If your family hails from multiple places, can you think of ways to combine your varied traditions into something new and entirely you?

What are some of the places your family members are from?

Joel Lloyd

My family is predominantly from Trinidad and Tobago, but some of my great-grandparents came from China and India. – Joel Lloyd, first-year New Victory Usher

We hope you’ve enjoyed New Victory Arts Break these past few months. Check out past Arts Breaks here, and join us later this summer for New Victory Dance—a virtual dance series hosted by New Victory Teaching Artists.

You are a part of the New Victory community. We want to see you, and hear from you! Show us how you’re using New Victory Arts Break at home and share your creative work with us—tag us on Instagram @newvictorytheater.