Arts » General Arts

Bringing in Spring, with kites and puppets


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Heather Henson, daughter of master puppeteer Jim Henson, says her best memories of growing up Henson involved quiet times outside in a nearby wildlife refuge. So perhaps it's appropriate that her shows this weekend in Indianapolis took place at the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s 100 Acres Art & Nature Park, as part of “Spring Equinox: Celebration of Flight.”

“He’d be working so hard, and one of the first things he’d do when he got home was take me for a walk in the woods,” Henson said, in response to questions submitted by children prior to the show. “My dad was born in Mississippi, and he loved that style of music and the countryside.”

Among other things, the “Celebration of Flight” event was evidence of the top-class entertainment you can sometimes find in this city. It’s not often you’ll see a performance from the first family of puppetry, up close and free of charge, no less, as Henson showed her interpretation of a crane’s life cycle, from a single-handed puppet of a hatchling to a forty-foot-wide adult that required three people to operate.

Henson’s puppetry marked only one element of the performance; the master kitemakers from Guildworks provided a remarkable display of aerial artistry, guiding and steeting low-flying kites with such precision that it was hard to believe they were using string and not rigid poles to keep things under control. It's a lot harder to guide a kite ten feet off the ground than a hundred, and there's nothing quite like a couple of hundred feet of windswept cloth whizzing only a few feet above your head.

The whole thing brought together an effective combination of dance, puppetry and kites, with performers in dazzling white and green sprinting across the fields, closing out with Henson leading a small army of children flying their own handmade kites across the site. The kids certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves. So did she.


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