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PUSH Physical Theatre

PUSH Physical Theatre

Category: Dance


Award-winning PUSH Physical Theatre has been called a cross between fine art sculpture and the hit movie The Matrix. Its co-founders currently characterize it as "like regular theatre but more painful". Its physical feats can be awe-inspiring, but the cherry on top of this acrobatic sundae is PUSH's ability to grab hold of audiences' emotions through exceptional visual storytelling. Following their sold-out run at Geva Theatre's Artistic Director, Mark Cuddy said 'By far, their performances were the highlight of the entire (Theatrefest) season. They are a treasure. In addition to a busy school-performance and residency schedule, as well as event and concert appearances, the company has toured the U.S., England and Mexico, and has been profiled on PBS and NPR. They also received the Anton Germano Dance Award in February from the "Community of Color" Black History Month World Culture Celebration and accepted the Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester's Performing Artist of the Year Award. Students will never forget their experience with PUSH. The narratives of our lives played out with hope, strength and optimism. They'll remember how each part of that experience is tied to a learning objective in the classroom. PUSH Physical Theatre discovers the potential of young imaginations, guides children in creative, expressive movement, experiences the joy of living and the wonder of the world around us, and builds confidence and healthy esteem by maturing self-identities in a safe and nurturing environment. Watch a virtual performance at


Grades K-12 (see program descriptions)
500 for performances
Single class size for workshops
Length 40-60 minutes
Cost $1215/1P; $1570/2P; $145/1W with performance; $285 per workshop when not added to a performance

Technical Requirements

Please refer to tech rider - available upon request



Overview of Programs

21st Century Learning Skills presented by PUSH's team of talented "human sculptures" using acrobatic strength, stunning physicality and emotional depth. Core subjects such as physical science, literacy and the arts are explored within the context of health, creativity, innovation, communication and collaboration. Relationships are examined between classroom learning and career and life skills such as social awareness responsibility, adaptability and flexibility. Performers carefully guide audiences throughout the program. Individual pieces are given context that is grade level appropriate to help students interpret the work on a level that is relevant to them. Program can incude Q&A. Grades K-12 (21st Century Skills; Health/Nutrition/Physical Activity)

The Natural World
What does it look like to literally, give someone a hand? Physical illusions and gravity-defying, acrobatic high jinks by PUSHs group of talented performers show us how. Audiences are guided through each step of the action as the ramifications of kindness, respect, bullying, conflict resolution, friendship, and more are discovered by a community of fantastical creatures created from the performers bodies. Meet The Two Headed Bug, The Scorpion and the playful Squat Frogs. The performance is given context that is grade level appropriate to help students interpret the work on a level that is relevant to them. Program can include Q&A. (Grades K-12) (Cultural Awareness; Diversity; Character Development; Social & Emotional Well-being)

Healthy Hero's
3-2-1-0 Be a Healthy Hero! This workshop has continuous physical activities that support the Be A Healthy Hero campaign for our communitys kids! Kids run for the healthiest snack choices in our relay race, get tips on learning to love exercise through physical theatre and end the class with a bit of something just as important - rest. (This workshop includes a coloring book for each child to take home. (Grades K-4) (Health/Nutrition/Physical Activity)

Animals of the Antarctic
Students observe, discuss, and demonstrate characteristics of Antarctic animals and their habitat. As they analyze the movement of polar bears, penguins, and seals, children discover how each creature is designed for its own environment - recreation, hunting habits, and quick escape. (Grades PreK-1) (Science/Physical Activity)

Classical music guides eager imaginations during participatory exercises relating to the changing of seasons and the effects they have on our everyday lives (i.e. growing spring flowers, grumbling summer thunderstorms, falling autumn leaves, drifting winter snowflakes). Students become aware of their personal responsibility for maintaining their health throughout the year as they act out dressing up for an afternoon at the beach or an anticipated snow day! It is a scientific fact that no two snowflakes are alike! Each is beautiful in its own unique way. Likewise, each one of us is unique and has something special to share with those around us. Grades (PreK-2) (Science/Physical Activity)

Through the themes of Strength and Power; Cooperation vs. competition; leadership and responsibility; partnership and trust; self discipline vs. external control, students will acquire positive character traits. Students engage in theatre and movement skills to learn how to overcome fear of failure and channel aggression into success rather than bullying. They will identify the benefits of self-control and the difference between leading and intimidating to build confidence and make positive choices regarding their actions towards themselves and others. This residency includes a planning session with the classroom teacher and in cooperation with the school psychologist or social-worker.(Grades 3-12) (Character Development/Social & Emotional Well-Being) Note: students are divided by gender

  Workshops and Residencies  
Art & the Brain
Students are asked to evaluate the hypothesis of noted neurologist V.S. Ramachandran in his research into the science of art. Dr. Ramachandrans 10 laws of art are, as yet, unproven which allows children the excitement of investigating, questioning and responding to cutting edge science in process. Students combine visual and movement art as they answer key questions such as Can we observe the laws in well known paintings? Do the laws transfer to movement? Can art be created by purposely breaking the laws? Far from being a purely academic discussion, students will create physical theatre experiments to test the limits of the laws of science used by artists. Grades (4-12) (Science/21st Century Skills/Cultural Awareness)

A study of the Properties of Light, Systems, Optical Illusions, Reflection, Refraction or any other vocabulary the classroom teacher would like to explore from the Light Unit! Concepts of light are transferred into partner and group creative movement exercises. Classroom discussion is generated throughout the residency as curriculum connections are made through the improvisation of the students. Many discoveries and ah-ha moments! (Grades 4-6) (Science)

From egg to adult, the 4 stages of the life cycle of a butterfly are physically created by students in individual and group exercises. Students get to become the process of metamorphosis through movement. Students physically demonstrate their growing understanding of each stage and make connections to their own physical and social lives. (Grades 2-4) (Science/21st Century Skills)

Simple Machines
This workshop facilitates a deeper internal understanding of the Physical Sciences as students both analyze and synthesize topics such as simple machines, transfer of weight, magnetism, and energy through physical movement and discussion. Science exercises focusing on the concept of teamwork, balance, and trust are used to encourage the development of friendship skills and guide students to thought-provoking ah-ha! moments. (Grades K-6) (Science/21st Century Learning)

Human Pop-Up Books
Students have the opportunity to view an art form that uses no words and leaves then with the challenge of transposing movement language into written or spoken language. By creating their own Human Pop-Up Book they will be faced with the challenge of analyzing a literary work and identifying key vocabulary vital to the storyline and then translating and synthesizing those words into a series of movements that reflect the story as it was in its original written/illustrated form. Students work in teams and collaboratively put their thoughts and ideas together. (Grades K-12) (Language Arts/21st Century Skills)

Students read and explore the problems and solutions different characters face in well-known books, stories, or even newspaper articles and photographs (source material can be provided by PUSH or selected by the classroom teacher) and uncover the idea that, despite many external differences, all characters experience basic human emotions. Working collaboratively, students create Emotionscapes - choreographed movement sequences that represent the emotional journey of the character(s) in the story. A celebration of their new understanding of the shared humanity of emotions culminates in a group performance. (Grades 3-12) (Character Development/Social-Emotional Well-Being/21st Century Skills)

Non verbal communication, personal boundaries, appropriate touch, confidence and intuition are just some of the topics addressed as students grapple (sometimes literally) with the creative skill-set that PUSH performers use everyday as they share weight to build impossible looking physical sculptures. This grade appropriate workshop/residency allows students to question and deal with high-pressure situations in a humorous environment that is safe and non-threatening. Grades (7-12) (Character Development/Social & Emotional Well-being/21st Century Skills/Physical Activity)