Fighting onstage at the Hemmens. Building a dragon sculpture from clay. Improving your writing, photography or art techniques.
These are among the skills you can learn this weekend at Elgin's FallBack Arts Festival.
Sponsored by the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission and the city of Elgin, the festival runs Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 2-3. All workshops are free.
"Our goal is to be as open and affordable as possible," said Sean Hargadon, chairman of the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission. "The festival offers a wide range of entry points."
He said the commission's goal is to encourage members of the community to immerse themselves in the arts, and take the time to connect with their artistic side.
New this year is a children's workshop based on the book, "When a Dragon Moves In" and the expansion of the festival into four different venues.
"It's like a garden," Hargadon said of the festival. "The first year you plant it, the second year, there's a little growth, and the third year, a lot of growth."
This year's festival will also feature a free town hall discussion about how the arts improve communities.
Saturday, Nov. 2
• 9 a.m. to noon: Award-winning fight director and Certified Teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors John Tovar along with David Gonzalez, will lead a movement workshop The Integrated Performer on the Alexander Technique, its origins, and a practical application of integrating both body and mind, giving the actor, dancer, or musician the maximum choice with minimum effort. The workshop is free and runs on the main stage at the Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way. Students should wear comfortable clothing.
• 9:30 a.m. to noon: Rita Cochran, owner of Local Color Gallery in Union Pier, Michigan, and seasoned art educator will walk students ages 6 -- 12 through the process of sculpting clay into colorful objects of art during the "When a Dragon Moves In" workshop. Students will hear the story about the dragon and then will be guided step by step through the process of creating a dragon sculpture with colorful self-drying clay. The workshop is free and runs at Side Street Studio Arts, 15 Ziegler Court. Students should wear comfortable clothing.
• 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.: Workshop leader Susan Henshaw returns to FallBack leading a workshop on Landscape Pastel Techniques. Henshaw has received many juried awards for her Pastels and Paintings along with being chosen as an Artist-in-Residence at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Porcupine Mountains State Park, and in 2011, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The workshop is free and runs at the Exhibition Hall (lower level) inside the Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way. Students should bring a basic set of pastels, paper towels and a reference photo.
• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Award-winning photographer Susan McConnell returns to FallBack and leads workshop participants through an interactive photography class, "Seeing Through a Different Lens," that will include photo editing. Each student will have his/her photos featured on a newly created website, "Have You Seen Elgin Like This?" The workshop is free and begins at the Exhibition Hall (lower level) inside the Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way. Students should bring a camera, walking shoes, and weather-appropriate attire.
• 1 to 3 p.m.: Former NBC News correspondent and award-winning writer Eric Burns will lead a workshop on Creative Non-Fiction Writing for writers who wish to improve their nonfiction. Some people think that creative nonfiction is oxymoronic. How can you write creatively when you are limited to facts? The answer is: in many ways, which will be covered in this workshop. The workshop runs at the Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division Street, 8th Floor. Students should bring an excerpt from one of their current writing projects.
• 2 to 5 p.m.: John Tovar along with Rachel Stubbs will lead an Unarmed Stage Combat workshop for anyone with a passion for the performing arts. Learn the most popular and commonly used unarmed techniques in theater. From pushes, falls, hair-pulls, and more, the class will focus on safety and good partnering skills while creating the illusion of violence. The workshop runs on the main stage at the Hemmens Cultural Center, 45 Symphony Way. Students should wear comfortable clothing.
• 2 p.m. "Why Art Matters: The State of Creativity." (See sidebar below.)
Sunday, Nov. 3
• 3 p.m.: Soiree Lyrique will feature award-winning soprano Solange Sior in recital with 14-year-old violist and National Award winner Sofiya Kyrylyuk, and pianist Dr. Chiayi Lee. The repertoire includes arias by Mozart and Verdi, French songs by Debussy and Richard Strauss. The performance will take place at the Elgin Art Showcase, 164 Division St., 8th floor. There is a suggested donation of $10-$30.
How to sign up
To register for the workshops, go to www.cityofelgin.com or elginfallback2013.eventbrite.com. For information, contact Hargadon at email@example.com. Look for FallBack Arts Festival 2013 on Facebook.