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Events for Children in NYC This Week


A young visitor to “Shinique Smith: Secret Garden Laughing Place,” an installation at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling. See listing below.

Michael Palma Mir

Our guide to cultural events in New York City for families with children and teenagers.

EMOTI-CON at the Celeste Bartos Center at the New York Public Library (June 17, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). Yes, this deals with electronic communication, but it will encompass far more than hearts and smiley faces. A major convention and competition for tech-oriented young people, it will feature presentations, hands-on activities and a Youth Media Expo showcasing projects from groups like Girls Who Code, Global Kids and Nano Hacker Academy. While the entrants vie for prizes, their peers can investigate the young engineers’ digital innovations, which include assistive technology for people with disabilities; wearable, programmable lighting devices for dancers; and games with a social conscience.

‘JOHN HENRY’ at the Provincetown Playhouse (June 17, 2 p.m.; June 18, 3 p.m.). What would an African-American boy and an Irish-American girl have in common in the late 19th century? The answer can be found in this play, which links their fates to that of John Henry, the railroad worker immortalized in legend. Written by Elise Forier Edie and recommended for children 9 and older, this show is receiving a free staged reading as part of New Plays for Young Audiences, a series devoted to works in development and presented by the educational theater program at the New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

NATIONAL DANCE INSTITUTE’S EVENT OF THE YEAR: ‘HARLEM NIGHT SONG’ at the N.Y.U. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (June 17, 5 p.m.; June 18, 2 and 5 p.m.; June 19, 6:30 p.m.). For the next few days, you can discover Harlem’s heritage in Greenwich Village, where you’ll hear it not only in the music of figures like Duke Ellington and Fats Waller, but also in the thundering feet of 200 children. They’re participants in National Dance Institute, a nonprofit that brings free arts programs to public schools, and these performances (the last is a benefit) allow them to strut their stuff. Expect them to conjure both places (the Savoy Ballroom and the Hoofers Club) and personalities (Joe Louis and Jacob Lawrence).
212-998-4941, nyuskirball.org
212-226-0083 (benefit tickets only)

NYC KIDS FEST in Morningside Park (June 18, 2 to 7 p.m.; rain date, June 25). Those too young for Bonnaroo or Burning Man have their own music and arts festival here — and every act and number is G-rated. Little ones can start boogieing immediately with Karen Arcenaux, who will start the fun with Zumba, and then enjoy multicultural performances by groups like the New York Arabic Orchestra and Uptown Social Club. Drama fans can see Galli Theater perform “The Frog Prince” at 5 p.m. and participate in an improvisation and theater game workshop with actors from Classical Theater of Harlem.

‘ROMEO + JULIET’ at the Hudson Guild Theater (through June 18). Here, they equal an unusual production. Adapted by Leo Lion and Zoe Senese-Grossberg, this 105-minute version, presented by Firebird Youth Theater, stresses the ages of the young lovers: As Shakespeare indicates, they’re teenagers. And by setting this interpretation in the present day and using adolescent actors as the young people and mature ones as the adults — many amateur productions employ cast members who are all roughly the same age — the company hopes to emphasize the intergenerational conflicts at the heart of the tragedy.

‘SHINIQUE SMITH: SECRET GARDEN LAUGHING PLACE’ at the Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling (through June 25). This is far from a conventional garden: No sun shines, and its only flowers bloom on printed textile scraps. But it’s definitely a laughing place — little visitors eagerly explore it — as well as a plot for ideas to take root. Ms. Smith has constructed this indoor installation as a labyrinth whose walls sport both graffitiesque scrawls and pasted-on fabric, some of it shirts, shorts and other discarded clothing. The work comments on mass consumption and environmental decay, but it also celebrates how trash can become art. And with its playful cutouts, small windows, painted motifs, intriguing crannies — one with children’s books — and a wall for tiny artists’ own creations, it’s just a great spot to play in. “I don’t think our visitors know they’re engaging with contemporary art,” said Lauren Kelley, the new director of this Manhattan museum. “But I hope it leads them to be curious about contemporary art as they get older.”
212-335-0004, sugarhillmuseum.org

‘TRANSFORMERS THROUGH THE YEARS’ at the Paley Center for Media (June 17, noon to 3 p.m.). So what do Transformers do best? They change. And young fans of these multitalented, ever-morphing robotic characters can witness their entire evolution in this free celebration. Held in honor of the latest film in the franchise, “Transformers: The Last Knight,” opening on Wednesday, this event will offer screenings of episodes from the original “Transformers” animated television series (1984) through the current “Transformers: Robots in Disguise.” (A new episode will be shown.) Small visitors can also do art activities in the lobby, create GIFs of themselves in the Transformers universe and, if they’re among the first 350 to arrive, receive a series-theme toy.
212-621-6600, paleycenter.org

VIRTUAL REALITY BIKE RIDE WITH E.T. at the Museum of the Moving Image (June 18, 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.). It’s not often that a two-wheeled vehicle will take you to outer space. Inspired by the epic scene in Steven Spielberg’s 1982 film, “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial,” in which Elliott, the young hero, rides his bike into the sky in the company of the title character, this workshop invites children to create their own alien worlds from clay and other materials. Then they’ll use a stationary bike and a Google Cardboard virtual reality viewer to experience pedaling through their galactic landscapes. To help young imaginations soar, the program also includes admission to a 12:30 p.m. museum screening of “E.T.” (also showing Saturday night).
718-784-0077, movingimage.us

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