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Welcome to Kindergarten

Basement Arts at the University of Michigan
Newman Studio

Performed February 5th, 2022

"The active and creative, living and life producing being of each person, reveals itself in the creative instinct of the child. All human education is bound up in the quiet and conscientious nurture of this instinct of activity; and in the ability of the child, true to this instinct, to be active."


-Friedrich Fröbel 


I created Welcome to Kindergarten for Basement Arts at the University of Michigan, for the Designer Slot, meant to give design students a space to create design focused theatre. 

I've long been inspired by the concepts behind the Froebel Gift's, that children should be brought up with a spatial understanding of the world, and that the artistic foundation of a child's education has equal importance to more academic subjects. But what really got me was learning through play, and playing as a way to learn.


I saw devisement of a dance show based around the gifts as a wonderful extension of this philosophy. In creating Welcome to Kindergarten we played, and learned, together.



The process that took Kindergarten from an idea on a white board to a realized show was 6 months and many sleepless nights. Like many projects, Kindergarten was hit with COVID scares and other issues. This resulted in the entire show being rechoreographed 2 weeks before opening. This condensed time frame required the insertion of several sections of improvised dance, as well as allowed us to create repeated shapes that the dancers use at different points within the narrative.

The piece includes 8 original pieces of music in a variety of styles, each corresponding to a different object and it's lesson within the greater scheme of the gifts, all composed by Ryo Kamibayashi. 

The monologue sections between the music were not originally a part of the show, but when the show was restructured, we realized it had in some ways become a story of it's own creation so we leaned into that feeling. The Gifts are about learning through creation, and Kindergarten became about what we learned through the creation of it.




Director and Deviser                      Audrey Tieman

Composer and Cast Member          Ryo Kamibayashi

Production Stage Manager             Briana Barker

Stage Manager                            Ainsley Grace

Scenic and Graphic Designer          Ryan Espitia

Lighting Designer                          Sydney Geysbeek

Costume Designer                         Mila McCoy

Prop Master                                 Alex Li

Sounds Board Operator                 Miles Zoellick

Cast Member (Teacher)                  Kate Klassa

Cast Member and Choreographer   David Midkiff

Photographer                               Ellie Vice @elviceart


Filmed by Exposure Production

Produced by Basement Arts

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