Peñasco Theatre Collective offers multidisciplinary arts projects for school-aged youth or community groups at the theatre.  Projects are devised based on the needs of the group and can include academic benchmarks and curriculum supported arts and performance based activities.  Projects can be one day or multiple days and are tailored to the needs of the visiting group.  Activities include (but not limited to) aerial arts, stilt-walking, tumbling, physical theatre, poetry, puppetry and visual arts.  The benefits of collective creative processes are immeasurable.  We know that children integrate information in various ways, and that art plays a key role in reinforcing academic concepts, and provides an outlet for non-traditional self expression.


The Peñasco Theatre Collective collaborates with Northern New Mexico school districts to provide in school and after school visual and performance based art classes. Participants learn invaluable life lessons such as calculated risk-taking, collaboration/negotiation, trust-building, hands-on mathematics, literacy and positive self-expression.  Performance and visual art projects utilize many of the same basic skills currently taught in elementary and secondary education.  The skills are applied and experiential. Our workshops encourage different types of learning incorporating various modalities. Young people gain self-efficacy, self-awareness, and self-confidence.

PTC Artist/Educators are experienced working with diverse youth in a variety of community settings, nationally and internationally and are accomplished professional working artists committed to their disciplines and are eager to pass on the traditions and skills of visual and performance art.

PTC Artist/Educators collaborate with students and school teachers to bring the disciplines of puppet making, stilt walking, mask making, acrobatics, poetry, theatre and more to enthusiastic young people providing unique opportunities for self-discovery, physical development, personal and collective empowerment, youth visibility and inter-generational connection.

We teach in all over Northern New Mexico including Peñasco, Taos, Española, Dixon, Chimayo, Santa Fe, Aztec, Las Vegas and beyond.  Each year we work with hundreds of public and charter school students to create inspiring and educational productions infusing the curricular experience with imagination, beauty and humor.

PTC Artist/Educators are committed to providing challenging and empowering creative experiences that enhance verbal and non-verbal communication skills, cross cultural collaboration, negotiation and trust utilizing the disciplines of circus, performance and visual arts.


This is a list of potential performance and visual arts workshops for school aged youth.  They can be done individually or combined to create an innovative youth performance.
Giant Puppet Construction
Participants will be engaged for 8 to 10, 1- hour sessions.  Students will use recycled materials to learn basic paper-maché, sculpting, painting, costume design and wood construction with hand tools. While creating magical, larger than life puppets they will be working together in groups of three or four, conceiving, designing and building images to tell an original story, adapted folktale or to support a school event i.e., cultural program, Earth Day, Spring Festival etc.

Students will learn about story lines, plots, characters, scripts and stage directions. Each child will have the opportunity to give input, provide leadership and assist peers while gaining skills in cooperation, communication and basic construction.  As a “puppet team” the members of each group will also learn to work together to bring their giant image to life. Classroom curriculum is incorporated in a variety of ways, specifically through the disciplines of literacy and math.
Suggested Grades: K – 12
Required student to teacher ratio: 10/1

Empowerment Through Stilts
This program is specifically designed to promote self-confidence, efficacy and trust through calculated risk taking. Stilt walking illustrates the concept of inter-dependence.  Success requires trust, negotiation, and communication.  It gives students an opportunity to challenge fears and the process of learning to walk builds trust within the group. In a culture where so many young people go unseen the experience of being “larger than life” permanently alters self-perception.

Participants will work in groups of 3 to support each other physically and verbally in learning to walk on a pair of wooden stilts.  Children learn basic physics, body mechanics, balancing and collaborative choreography.  PTC Artist/Educators work with students to create a rousing stilt dance performance, including costumes and/or headpieces.  For maximum effectiveness and safety we recommend 10 – 12, 1-hour sessions.
Suggested Grades: 2 – 12
Required student to teacher ratio: 7/1

Mask Making
Using paper maché, clay base, cardboard or plaster bandage construction students will create masks for characters from a story or concept being studied in the current curriculum.  Participants will learn the art of characterization and storytelling by bringing their creations to life.  Some basic movement and performance skills will also be imparted. This project requires 6 – 8, 1-hour sessions.
Suggested Grades: 3 – 12
Required student to teacher ratio: 10/1
Shadow Puppets
Global cultures have used shadow puppets for story telling since the beginning of time.  Students will learn the delicate techniques for creating stunning images using cardboard and light.  Beginning with the basics of shadow puppetry and moving into storyboarding and creation of puppets specific to each story, poem or theme currently studied. Youth will work in small groups to illustrate and bring each story to life – developing visual art techniques as well as theatrical, vocal and cooperation skills. Students can present their finished plays as part of a school assembly or in a smaller setting. Length of performance will depend greatly on number of students and stories developed.  This project requires 6 – 8, 1-hour sessions.
Suggested Grades: 4 – 12
Required student to teacher ratio:  10/1
PTC Artist/Educators utilize theatre games, movement, character development, storyboarding, clowning and oration in collaboration with students to create a dynamic final performance.  We recommend 10 – 12, 1-hour sessions possibly as part of an ongoing after school program.
Suggested Grades: Any
Required student to teacher ratio:  10/1
Participants learn physical agility, body awareness and inter-dependence.  Success requires individual agility and the ability to physically support each other.  It requires focus and promotes trust while providing opportunities for individual and group success.  We recommend 5 – 10, 1-hour sessions possibly as part of an ongoing after school program.
Suggested Grades:  Any
Required student to teacher ratio:  10/1

Work we have done in the community

  • La Jicarita Community School 2014/15/16 Peñasco, NM Devised theatre, stilts, aerial arts, giant puppets, shadow puppets and culinary arts with K-6 th .Themes related to common core studies; family history, local folk tales, and healthy eating.
  • Embudo Valley Library After School Program 2014 – 2016 Dixon, NM Ongoing collaboration; stilts, visual arts, acrobatics with K-6 th Camp Colin 2005-2016 Llano, NM Multidisciplinary arts with local summer camp youth and teens.
  • Truchas Summer Program 2014/15/16 Truchas, NM Stilt walking and circus arts with youth.
  • Mosaic Charter School 2008- 2015 Aztec, NM Giant puppet creation with K-8 th . Shadow puppet story creation and performance for Solar Festival. Circus and Physics unit for grades 3 rd – 8 th .
  • Hernandez Elementary 2014 Española, NM Stilt walking with grades 5 th – 6 th .
  • Chimayo Elementary 2010 Chimayo, NM Stilt walking for 5 th and 6 th graders.
  • Chimayo Boys and Girls Club 2010 Chimayo, NM Giant puppet construction and stilt walking for children in collaboration with the Santa Fe Opera.
  • San Juan Elementary 2009/2010 Ohkay Owingeh, NM Giant puppet construction with grade 6. Shadow puppets, poems, performance and mask making with 2 nd graders. Stilts and masks for Dia de Los Muertos celebration to 3 rd and 6 th graders.
  • Alcalde Elementary 2010 Alcalde, NM Stilt walking with 6 th graders, giant puppets and masks with K-1.
  • Peñasco Theatre Youth Performance Troupe 2009/2010 Peñasco, NM Trapeze, fabric, aerial hoop, acrobatics and poetry culminating in a final performance at the Peñasco Theatre.
  • Peñasco Elementary 2009 Peñasco, NM Stilt walking for spring festival with 5 th graders.
  • Enos Garcia Elementary 2009 Taos, NM Giant puppet stories about star myths, creation and performance with 5 th graders.
  • Dixon Elementary 2008-2016 Dixon, NM Tumbling, stilt walking, giant puppet, hand puppets and mask making with K-6.
  • Arroyos Del Norte 2008 Taos, NM Giant puppet story creation based on folktales and original stories composed by 3rd-5th grade.
  • Ranchos Elementary 2009 Talpa, NM Giant puppet story creation with 4 th graders.
  • Rio Gallinas Charter School 2008 Las Vegas, NM Creation of giant puppet and stilt outdoor pageant for “Re-Wilding The West”, a whole school performance about history and New Mexico ecology.
  • Carnival Center for the Performing Arts 2001-2008 Miami, FL Designed and implemented a six-year circus arts education program for marginalized youth in 6 neighborhoods throughout Miami Dade County. A six-week intensive circus and visual art after-school program culminating in a collaborative outdoor free circus performance by over 100 youth of color.

Training and Private Classes

The Peñasco Theatre is available for supervised circus arts training and private classes in aerials and acro-stilts for students of all ages.

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