Tuesday, November 12, 2013

An Interview with the Creator of Crafterina

I have a feeling that a lot of you know little girls and boys who love both ballet and crafts. And if you do, then I have a feeling you will especially enjoy hearing from our special guest today -- Vanessa Salgado! Vanessa is an accomplished dancer, dance educator, and visual artist who has combined her unique talents to create Crafterina -- who, you will find out in the following interview with Vanessa, is much more than a character in a book!

How did you come up with the idea of Crafterina?

After teaching children's dance classes across New York City for a number of years, I always seemed to encounter the same question from parents: what can we practice at home to make my child a better dancer? My answer always surprised them: don't practice the classroom exercises at home -- instead, expose your child to the arts, encourage them to play, read stories together, and share with them a love of dance. Eventually, after realizing that parents may need a bit of help encouraging creative thinking and moving at home, I was inspired to combine my dancing, illustrating, and teaching skills to create Crafterina.

Crafterina is a storybook, craft book, and dance lesson in one. When I was developing the character, I wanted to inspire young thinkers and movers to use their imaginations to create art and learn more about the world around them. I understood great value in interdisciplinary learning, and I believe Crafterina’s Read-Create-Dance approach is the secret to achieving our inspiring tagline of CREATE YOUR DREAM. This is the big lesson behind Crafterina: you can be anything you want to be and you have the power to make it happen!

Crafterina is such a unique idea! When you were creating her, did you envision how the book and the crafts might be used in a home setting?

The book was designed to unite parent and child in a creative quest at home. It is perfect as a nighttime story, or as a weekend dance and craft activity. By using simple household craft tools and supplies, children are encouraged to create crafts and use their imagination to go on dancing adventures. Embedded in the text are simple do-it-yourself craft instructions, making it easy to create crafts together as you read. 

The storybook and website are also an excellent tool and resource for dance educators. We hope to inspire more teachers to encourage creative thinking and moving in the classroom and at home. For more tips on how the book and crafts can be used, please visit our websitewww.Crafterina.com. 

I noticed that Crafterina is also unique in the way she looks, especially the fact that she doesn’t have facial features. What was your reasoning behind this?

As the storyline developed, I felt it was important to create a character that all children could identify with. Our society has an immense focus on facial and physical beauty. The true beauty in the art of dance is not what one’s face looks like, but rather how the body is able to communicate through movement. The Crafterina character also embraces diversity and spreads a message of universality. To further this belief, we offer the Crafterina book in five additional styles so that all children can imagine they are the main character -- a creative, bright, beautiful, and talented artist!

Each child has a voice and a gift to share with the world. As grown-ups, our responsibility is to encourage young minds to believe in themselves and follow their dreams. We need more positive thinkers, role models, and leaders creating our world. Crafterina is a character to inspire a love for the art of dance in all readers and to spread the message that EVERYONE CAN DANCE!

That's a very inspiring message, and one that all children can embrace...especially when it involves crafts! Speaking of crafts, do you have a best-selling or most-popular craft? They all look like so much fun!  

Our Playtime Tableau has become a very popular craft and is very easy to create. Simply visit the Crafterina Etsy Shop to purchase and download one instantly. Once the craft is printed upon two pages of cardstock paper, carefully cut out and fold the backdrop and dancing characters to make them 3D. This particular craft is not only a fun toy for children. It also inspires thinking like a choreographer. Playing with the idea of symmetry, asymmetry, and stage directions, children learn from an early age how to create patterns and formations.

I like your idea of having crafts that go along with the Crafterina book but also having extra crafts available for purchase. So many possibilities this way! Would you have any recommendations for picture books that some of the extra crafts could be paired with?

I absolutely love using picture books to enhance learning for young dancers. For example, Nutcracker season is right around the corner. The Crafterina Etsy Shop is full of Nutcracker tableaus, puppet theaters, and masks to help bring this storybook ballet to life! One of my favorite picture book versions of The Nutcracker is a gorgeous pop-up book by Nick Denchfield with illustrations by Sue Scullard. The pop-up paper construction makes the story come to life!

Another series of popular ballet crafts are our Carnival of the Animals puppet theater, masks, and coloring pages. My favorite version of this whimsical tale is by Classical Music for Kids, with commentary by Barrie Carson Turner and illustrations by Sue Williams. The book even comes with a CD of Camille Saint-Saëns’ famous Carnival of the Animals score. 

For my third and final book recommendation, I'd like to highlight the board book Little Green by Keith Baker. A short and sweet story, this book is an excellent tool for dance educators looking to introduce the idea of pathways in a fun and imaginative way for their young students.

These all sound great. I've actually been wanting to get my hands on a copy of Carnival of the Animals for a few years now, so you have inspired me to go find a copy soon! Before we go for today, is there anything else you would like us to know about Crafterina?

I am working on new illustrations and crafts everyday and hope to spread the importance of creative dreams even further. I hope that my sharing of love for art with others may inspire many more young Crafterinas to follow their hearts and create their own dreams!  

I'd love for people to connect with Crafterina online via our website, our Etsy Shop, Facebookand Twitter to become a part of our dance and craft community! Also, the Crafterina children's book is available on Amazon.com, Etsy, and iTunes for the iPad

Thanks so much for allowing me to interview you, Vanessa. I've loved learning about Crafterina and being inspired to be more creative!

Vanessa Salgado is a professional dancer and visual artist based in New York City. She can be seen performing with CONTINUUM Contemporary/Ballet and has also taught many little dancers throughout Manhattan, primarily at the School at STEPS on Broadway and at the Joffrey Ballet School. Vanessa is a graduate of the world famous Alvin Ailey/Fordham University BFA Program at Lincoln Center. She also holds a Certification in Dance Education from the Dance Education Laboratory at the NY 92nd St. Y, Harkness Dance Center. Her earliest memories involve story time with her dad, creating with her mom, and attending weekend ballet class alongside her sister, Donna. Her interests in visual art revealed themselves wholeheartedly in high school as she simultaneously trained vigorously for the professional dance world. As she transitioned into her college days and into her professional life, her incessant doodles and crafting have remained a source of wonder for those around her. For more about Vanessa, please visit www.VanessaSalgado.com

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