Arts group offers artsy play date to families with youngsters


A busy mix of toddlers begin to make their way up to the stage. Some are crawling, others are running.

Artists Truus Verkley and Natasha Mandrusiak have just performed a 15 minute dance and violin piece. They are now in charge of leading an interactive playdate for the tots, parents and caregivers at Bach, Tots, and Tiptoes.

Ben Dickau, 4, bows the strings of a violin as the others shake tambourines and maracas to their own playful beat.


Artist Natasha Mandrusiak shows Ben Dickau, 4, how to bow a violin.
Photo by: Roxana Secara
“Your facial expressions and actions can be way bigger,” Verkley says about her performance. “It’s a lot of fun performing for them because toddlers are usually very honest.”

Bach, Tots, and Tiptoes is a parent-tot program presented by the Soulocentric Performing Arts Society, held at the Community Arts Centre, Currie Barracks.

Jenny Peters, founder and artistic director of Soulocentric explains that the program was specifically designed for the family-friendly demographic.

“The biggest thing is that it is just as much for adults as it is for the little ones,” Peters says.

Having two kids of her own, she wanted to create an environment where arts enthusiasts are able to get together weekly to share their passion with their babies and tots.

With a background in theatre, Peters saw the importance in continuing to do what she loves, despite being a new parent.

“I couldn’t go to any shows with my kids because everything is for ages four and up,” Peters says.


Artist Truus Verkley with tots during the interactive play element of Bach, Tots, and Tiptoes.
Photo by: Roxana Secara
She explains that most shows are restricted because people think they (toddlers) “don’t get it”, “but babies do engage in a social environment,” she adds.

“Bach, Tots, and Tiptoes is ideal for the age group because the sessions are short and so are the performances,” Peters says.

Peters invites various professional artists to the 45 minute classes, exposing the families to a versatile range of arts from classical music to physical theatre, East Indian traditional dance and more. She describes her first parent-tot program as a creative approach to encourage parents and toddlers to get involved.

Peters explains that toddlers benefit from creative play by using their imagination and gross motor skills and parents are able to socialize and enjoy a morning out with their kids.

Kim Dickau has been attending Session 1 of the program with her 18-month-old daughter Reese, and four-year-old son Ben.

“We’ve finally found something that they both enjoy,” says Dickau about their involvement.

She said that there is so much going on between the costumes, music and dancing that they have no difficulty focusing. When it’s time for the interactive element, “They are encouraged to get up and move and be loud,” she adds.

Dickau says that Bach, Tots, and Tiptoes allow her kids to explore “out of the box,” opening up their eyes to the world by all that they are exposed to throughout the class.

Whiles she doesn’t have a theatre background, Dickau says she believes, “kids should explore their own passions.”

Session 1 of Bach, Tots, and Tiptoes wrapped up on Oct. 26 with Session 2 beginning Nov. 1 in Cochrane and Nov. 2 in Calgary.

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