Tilt Kids Festival 2018 Adventurous New Works for Families

Tilt Kids Festival 2018 Adventurous New Works for Families

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy and French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) Present the Third Annual TILT KIDS FESTIVAL

Adventurous New Works for Families by Celebrated French and International Artists Span Three Weekends, March 3–18

New York, NY, January 30, 2017—The Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) are pleased to announce programming for the third annual Tilt Kids Festival, featuring six premieres of whimsical, thoughtful, and rigorously made works for children across six venues throughout New York City, March 3-18. Described by The New York Times as “French in origin, fantastical in concept, and freewheeling in execution,” the festival will engage kids of all ages with the work of renowned artists across multiple disciplines. Many events are free; for ticketed events, please visit www.tiltkidsfestival.org.

Each performance uniquely speaks to how children experience the world, and their need to have a space to enjoy art while simply being kids. By introducing young people to works that are fun and mind-expanding, Tilt Kids Festival helps enrich and build a new generation of cultural audiences.

Known for revolutionizing theater for kids in France and around the world, acclaimed French director Joël Pommerat opens Tilt 2018 with a rare US performance of his most celebrated work, Little Red Riding Hood, adapted from Charles Perrault’s classic fairy tale and created for his eight-year-old daughter. Hailed for creating “spellbinding theater” (The Guardian), Pommerat imbues a sense of magic in his storytelling and proves that profound art does not need to be specific to any age.

The first weekend of Tilt also features the New York premieres of Gala, visionary French choreographer Jérôme Bel’s newest work bringing together professionals and amateurs of all ages and from all backgrounds, at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts; and Once upon a Forest, the Animal Spring, an interactive exhibition from French-Moroccan artist Yto Barrada and American designer Julie Klear that invites kids to use the power of words to change the world.

The festival’s second weekend is devoted to reading, writing, and thinking—familiarizing children with the power of literature, philosophy, and design. It includes three new commissions: Pearls on a Branch, from a new book by Najla Khoury, features a captivating reading from acclaimed actress Yasmine Al Massri (Miral and ABC’s hit TV show Quantico) that brings traditional Syrian and Lebanese folk tales to life. Lebanese-Canadian designer Diane Mikhael leads a special Lettering Lab workshop at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, inviting kids to create a visual dialogue between letters from the Arabic and Latin alphabets. And English philosopher Simon Critchley’s lauded Philosophy for Kids returns to the Brooklyn Public Library this year with new, inspiring themes, engaging both children and adults in stimulating and approachable thinking and discussions.

For Tilt’s last weekend, whose theme is music, New York’s Broken Box Theater presents a special Tilt edition of their hit interactive performance Destination: Everywhere, using movement in the French tradition of mime, and a spoken emcee, to bring funny and fantastical tales to life. Amidst all the excitement, kids and grown-ups can also take a moment to relax with a Musical Nap, a Tilt first, led by world-renowned nay and oud virtuoso, Bassam Saba, along with co-founder of the New York Arabic Orchestra, April Centrone. They will transform the ballroom at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy into a hyptonic musical haven, for a unique, spellbinding journey through musical traditions of the Arab world.

Tilt Kids Festival 2018 closes with a bang with Billy Martin and the Tilt Brass Band’s Stridulations for the Good Luck Feast, an afternoon of interactive musical performances that create a welcoming environment for loudness and play, at Brooklyn’s ISSUE Project Room.

Tilt Kids Festival is co-curated by Rima Abdul-Malak, Cultural Attachée of the Cultural Services of the French EmbassyLili Chopra, Executive Vice President and Artistic Director of the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF); and Violaine Huisman, writer, translator, and curator.

From the Curators

Tilt came from the desire to present works created from the relatively new phenomenon of cultural institutions taking work for young audiences seriously,” says Lili Chopra, Executive Vice President and Artistic Director at FIAF, and co-curator of Tilt Kids Festival. “With Tilt, we are asking incredible minds and great artists to create an open context for children (and also their parents) in New York, to introduce them to new forms and possibly expand their tastes to different artistic experiences.”

“Accessible to children but not designed only for children, the festival has also a natural power to revive child-like curiosity in parents and bring them closer to the wonder of childhood” stated Rima Abdul-Malak, Cultural Attaché at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, and co-curator of Tilt. “Instilling a deeper awareness of other cultures is at the heart of our mission at the Cultural Services, where we strive to share the wonders of French and Francophone creativity with new U.S. audiences.”

Tilt is a New Yorker’s festival: multicultural, sophisticated, impertinent! Every project we present this year examines our historical moment through playful and accessible art forms. We hope to expose children to new paradigms through adventurous creations and radical inclusion,” adds Violaine Huisman, co-curator of Tilt Kids Festival.


Tilt is made possible thanks to the support of Air France and Delta Air Lines, FACE Foundation, Florence Gould Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Institut Français, the French Ministry of Culture, SACD (Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques), NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Jacadi, and La Roche-Posay.

Tilt Kids Festival Commission

Yto Barrada & Julie Klear: Once Upon a Forest, the Animal Spring

Saturday, March 3, through Friday, April 6
FIAF Gallery, 22 East 60th Street (between Park and Madison Avenue)

Tuesday through Friday, 11am–6pm; Saturday, 11am–5pm

Free & open to the public

All ages

In an imaginative new visual art exhibition, French-Moroccan multimedia artist Yto Barrada and American designer and art educator Julie Klear invite kids to create new worlds using colorful art pieces to transform the FIAF Gallery into a moveable visual feast.

Turning buildings into forests, or cities into flowers, kids are encouraged to play, hide, and interact with the animals and landscapes, while changing things up through words, languages, and sounds. By moving pieces around and creating original artwork, the kids will have a unique opportunity to work together and use the power of art and words to change the world!

Animal Spring was originally created as an artful card game in four languages—English, French, Arabic, and Dutch, by the Wiels Museum in Brussels.

Julie Klear will lead two workshops: On March 3 at 2pm, Protest Animals will invite kids to create their own animal with the objective to choose an emotion, a protest, and to voice an opinion. On March 16 at 4pm, Poetry as Protest will encourage them to create their own slogan, protest poster, catchphrase, or mantra. For dates and times, visit tiltkidsfestival.org

Co-presented with Wiels Contemporary Art Center in Brussels.

Joël Pommerat: Little Red Riding Hood

Saturday, March 3 at 12 & 7pm

Festival opening brunch Saturday, March 3 from 11am–12pm

Sunday, March 4 at 12pm

FIAF, Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street (between Madison & Park)

Tickets: $60 General; $45 FIAF Members and Kids

Ages 7 & up

45 minutes


“[Pommerat] is one of the most outstanding and creative directors working today.”The Guardian

Once upon a time, there was a fearless little girl. A workaholic single mother. A homemade flan. And a crafty wolf. With projections, imagination, and a velvety voice, a stoic narrator guides audiences across a dark stage for an unforgettable adventure and a powerful rite of passage.

Visionary French director Joël Pommerat makes Little Red Riding Hood startlingly new in this contemporary staging of the oft-told fairytale. Created by Pommerat to introduce his young daughter to the magic of theater, this production of Little Red Riding Hood revolutionized the way theater is made for kids, in France and around the world. With the aim of speaking truth, he creates wholly original theater that radiates warmth, empathy, and curiosity for audiences of all ages.

Don’t miss a rare stateside performance of this landmark production, in French with easy-to-read English subtitles.

The performances at FIAF are part of Joël Pommerat’s first U.S. tour, including performances in Los Angeles and New York, and masterclasses taught by the company at Princeton University.

Co-presented with Princeton University. Supported by FACE Contemporary Theater, a program developed by FACE Foundation and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States with lead funding from the Florence Gould Foundation, Institut français, and the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

Jérôme Bel: Gala (New York Premiere)

Saturday, March 3 at 3pm

NYU Skirball Center, 566 LaGuardia Place (between Thompson Street and LaGuardia Place)

Tickets: $40

Ages 7 & up

90 minutes


For Gala, a cast of twenty New Yorkers get dressed up in their sequined best to pull together their most enthusiastic moves. In true Jérôme Bel style, ranging from 8 to 80 years old, some performers are professional dancers, while others are dancing on stage for the first time. Through their movement, the gentle humanity of each performer lights up this inspired production.

Jérôme Bel, the “mischievously entertaining” (The Guardian) French choreographer, explores the relationship between choreography and popular culture, dancer and audience, often using humor to break the formality of a theatrical performance. His approachable, playful work asks questions that may also be on kids’ minds—what is dance? Who gets to be a dancer?

Co-presented with NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

Tilt Kids Festival Commission

Yasmine Al Massri: Pearls on a Branch by Najla Khoury

Saturday, March 10 at 11am

Albertine Bookstore, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, 972 Fifth Avenue (at 79th Street)

Free & open to the public

Ages 5 & up
60 minutes


Award-winning actress Yasmine Al Massri (Miral and ABC’s hit TV show Quantico) brings to life traditional Syrian and Lebanese folktales, passed down through generations of women, and collected by Najla Khoury in Pearls on a Branch: Oral Tales.

Khoury originally published these tales in Arabic in 2014, having collected them as she traveled through Lebanon with a theater troupe during the country’s civil war from 1975 to 1990.

This special performance celebrates the launch of the book’s English edition, which will be published in March 2018 by Archipelago Books, featuring a selection of the most popular tales, translated from Arabic by Inea Bushnaq.

“[T]hese tales are radiant with sunlight and flowers, jinns and spirits, palaces and sultans… the themes will resonate with anyone who loves fairy tales and folklore… An absolute delight for readers young and old.” 

—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

Presented in partnership with the Consulate General of Lebanon in New York.

Tilt Kids Festival Commission

Diane Mikhael: Lettering Lab: Exploring with Arabic and Latin letterforms

Saturday, March 10, at 11am & 1:30pm
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, 2 East 91st Street (between Fifth & Madison Avenue)

Free & open to the public

Ages 5–12
90-minute sessions


As part of the Cooper Hewitt series Design Kids, Lebanese-Canadian designer and professor Diane Mikhael will lead a special workshop commissioned by the festival.

Kids will explore and compare the visual forms and dimensions of Arabic and Latin letters. Creating a visual dialogue between letters from the two different alphabets, they can uncover the relationships between different shapes.

Diane Mikhael is an associate professor, designer, curator, and co-founder of the Middle East Design Educators Association (MEDEA). She is the author of the book Bilingualism in Visual Communication: The Visible Forms and Meaning in Arabic and Latin Typography.

Co-presented with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum as part of their series Design KidsDesign Kids is made possible by the generous support of Target, Siegel Family Endowment, and Great Circle Foundation.

Tilt Kids Festival Commission

Simon Critchley & Guests: Philosophy for Kids

Sunday, March 11, 2–4pm
Brooklyn Public Library, Central Branch, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn

Free & open to the public

Ages 6–12
30-minute sessions


For the third consecutive edition of Tilt Kids Festival, philosopher Simon Critchley, moderator of The New York Times philosophy column “The Stone” and celebrated author of The Book of Dead Philosophers, will lead Philosophy for Kids workshops at the Brooklyn Public Library.

Critchley and his guests will engage the youngest of intellectuals in an exploration of some of the philosophical themes that impact their lives in interactive discussion groups. This year, parents can also participate. In a concurrent seminar, they will be invited to discuss issues at the intersection of philosophy and parenting.

Simon Critchley is a Hans Jonas Professor at the New School for Social Research. His books include Very Little…Almost NothingInfinitely DemandingThe Book of Dead PhilosophersThe Faith of the FaithlessThe Mattering of MatterBowie, Memory Theatre, and Notes on Suicide.

Co-presented with the Brooklyn Public Library.

Tilt Kids Festival Commission

Broken Box Mime Theater: Destination: Everywhere, Tilt Edition (World Premiere)

Saturday, March 17 at 11am

FIAF, Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street (between Madison & Park Avenue)

Tickets: $5

Ages 5 & up
60 minutes


Broken Box Mime Theater uses the art of mime to tell contemporary stories that go beyond words. With this performance, they’re digging into mime’s French roots, channeling the spirit of Marcel Marceau, and presenting a special edition of their hit show Destination: Everywhere for Tilt Kids Festival.

With a speaking host to guide even the youngest theater-goers, this hour-long collection of stories told through movement and music includes a tale of an unlikely friendship with a giant, the troubles of a superhero on date night, and an out-of-this-world French cultural adventure that won’t be complete without the audience’s help.

After the performance, families learn how to mime from their seats; stretch their imaginations; and celebrate the power of play.

Tilt Kids Festival Commission

Bassam Saba & Musicians of the NY Arabic Orchestra: Musical Nap (World Premiere)

Saturday, March 17 at 2pm

Cultural Services of the French Embassy, 972 Fifth Avenue (at 79th Street)

Free & open to the public

Ages 4 & up
60 minutes


World-renowned educator, composer, and virtuoso oud and nay player Bassam Saba teams up with April Centrone and members of the New York Arabic Orchestra to transform the Cultural Services of the French Embassy’s ballroom into a musical haven.

Reclining in a cozy nest of cushions, pillows, and twinkling lights, kids and grown-ups are invited to breathe deep, sit back, and embark on a dreamlike journey through the musical traditions of the Arab world.

Founded in 2007 by Bassam Saba, the New York Arabic Orchestra is a professional music ensemble and year-round training program in Arabic music. Its mission is the preservation and promotion of classical Arabic music through concerts, new compositions, and education. In the workshops, children are introduced to Arabic instruments such as the nayoudqanun, and Arabic percussion through engaging, interactive sessions inspiring curiosity, creativity, meditation, and expression.

Presented in partnership with the Consulate General of Lebanon in New York.

Billy Martin & The Tilt Brass Band: Stridulations for the Good Luck Feast

Sunday, March 18 at 1pm

ISSUE Project Room, 22 Boerum Place (at Livingston Street), Brooklyn


Ages 5–10
90 minutes


Tilt Kids Festival 2018 closes with a bang at Issue Project Room! Families are invited to get loud in this interactive performance led by some of Brooklyn’s leading experimental musicians.

Drummer and educator Billy Martin will lead the first-ever kids’ performance of his legendary piece, Stridulations for the Good Luck Feast. In this cooperative musical game, the audience and band are on the same team with the ultimate objective: making music.

Families build their own instruments from bamboo sticks, woodblocks, and recycled bottles, and learn about making music, connecting with others, and how to communicate using sound.

This celebration also features musical performances from Billy Martin’s Whirlygig Dragons, as well as TILT Brass performing a rendition of Stridulations.

Co-presented with ISSUE Project Room.

About Tilt Kids Festival

Tilt encourages a sense of freedom and adventure in the ways young people encounter art. Kids and adults alike discover new works by renowned artists that offer mind-opening experiences and celebrate diversity across cultures. Tilt Kids Festival is produced by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in partnership with leading cultural institutions, which this year include Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, ISSUE Project Room, Brooklyn Public Library, and NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

Tilt is co-curated by Rima Abdul-Malak, Cultural Attaché, Cultural Services of the French Embassy, Lili Chopra, Executive Vice President and Artistic Director at FIAF, and Violaine Huisman, writer, translator, and curator.


About the Cultural Services of the French Embassy

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, digital innovation, language, and higher education across the US. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight other cities across the country, the Cultural Services brings artists, authors, intellectuals, and innovators to cities nationwide. It also builds partnerships between French and American artists, institutions, and universities on both sides of the Atlantic. In New York, through its bookshop Albertine, it fosters French-American exchange around literature and the arts. www.frenchculture.org

About FIAF

The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) is New York’s premiere French cultural and language center. FIAF’s mission is to create and offer New Yorkers innovative and unique programs in education and the arts that explore the evolving diversity and richness of French cultures. FIAF seeks to generate new ideas and promote cross cultural dialogue through partnerships and new platforms of expression. www.fiaf.org