More than 3,000 students from elementary school to the university level will experience powerful lessons from visiting scholars during Smithsonian Week, March 5-11.
This year’s theme is "On The Move." Smithsonian scholars and a performing group will share their expertise in car culture, film and dance.
• Max Alvarez is a film historian, curator and lecturer who has worked as a film critic and entertainment journalist. Most recently he served as film coordinator at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., where he curated more than 100 film programs on the achievements of women filmmakers internationally. He has presented seminars on iconic film figures, from renowned directors to legendary screen actors, as well as seminars on film genres and themes, including film noir, Hollywood musicals, horror, censorship, set design and the origins of the Hollywood studio system.
At school assemblies, Alvarez will guide students to view video clips and learn about the history of animation and how it has changed over time. Students will also explore the role of music in filmmaking from its inception and a brief history of musical theater.
• William Withuhn has served as curator in the Department of Transportation at the National Museum of American History since 1983. Most recently he opened "America on the Move," a permanent exhibition on transportation history from 1876 to 2000, which now comprises the largest gallery at the National Museum of American History. He has also authored and co-edited two books, Rails Across America: A History of Railroads in North America (1993) and The Spirit of Steam (1995), a book of essays and historic photographs that has sold more than 200,000 copies to date.
Through assembly lectures and demonstrations, Withuhn will help students explore the changing role of the car in relation to music, values, freedom and individual expression. Students will reflect on Los Angeles as a modern transportation city in a global world.
• The third Smithsonian feature this year is a performing arts troupe. Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble has been entertaining audiences around the world with performances of percussive dance and traditional music. The troupe’s performances feature clogging from Southern Appalachia, stepdances from Ireland, England, and Canada, and hamboning, hoofin' and early jazz tap of the American South.
Students will participate in interactive demonstrations from Footworks in traditional music and dance. In addition to performers who are proficient in many traditional styles of dance, Footworks features musicians who play fiddle, banjo, bass, mandolin and guitar. A favorite of the national and international festival circuit, the company has performed at colleges and universities through the U.S. as well as in such venerated venues as the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center and the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
In addition to the scholar school visits, the week includes free community events. The school activities are offered at no charge to the Long Beach Unified School District. Schools are eligible to apply to host a visiting scholar each year.
LBUSD schools participating this year are Bryant, Buffum, Cleveland, Henry, Hill, Keller, Lakewood, Los Cerritos, Madison, Millikan, Monroe, Poly, Renaissance, Tincher and Twain.