Arts and Entertainment

Guy Sidora—Bainbridge Island's 'pied piper'—connects with kids through movement and art

Guy Sidora, shown here instructing students in his Robot Bounce class, is a favorite entertainer among Bainbridge Island
Guy Sidora, shown here instructing students in his Robot Bounce class, is a favorite entertainer among Bainbridge Island's young crowd.
— image credit: Jennifer Morris/Staff Photo

Give a kid a whistle, and you might never again have a moment’s peace. Give a kid a whistle in one of Guy Sidora’s movement classes, and that kid might take that whistle and turn it into an art.

Sidora, known to many on Bainbridge as the Island’s Pied Piper, doesn’t often have to introduce himself nowadays. He’s worked with kids (and adults) throughout the Island’s art community, at Bainbridge Performing Arts, as both a thespian and instructor, and with the Island Theatre, Bainbridge Ballet, Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra, the Island parks district and most area schools.

If you haven’t heard of him, there’s a good chance your kids have.

Last Wednesday, Sidora worked with a group of 7- to 10-year-olds. He started their Robot Bounce session with praise, complimenting their ability to stand completely still for five minutes during their last class together. The stillness was a part of their robot training.

“You were totally present,” Sidora told them, adding many of his adult friends were impressed at their focus. Those friends told Sidora they doubted they could have done the same.

“The first word out of your mouth is not ‘I can’t,’ but ‘OK,’” Sidora said.

So surmised one of his students: “When we’re older, we won’t be saying ‘I can’t.’”

Like Pan with his Lost Boys, Sidora and his students explored for an hour-and-a-half the ranges of their whistles – tiny plastic instruments that whiz between octaves with a peculiar buzz.

Sidora showed the class how to move their limbs in horizontal and vertical lines to better emulate robots – a lesson that was part theater, part physical education and part geometry. They later studied the rotation and spin of balls.

“I create a space where accidents can happen,” said Sidora. Not the hurtful kind of accidents, he clarified: “Accidental learning. Where the opportunities present themselves.”

Kids Discovery Museum Executive Director Susan Sivitz said Sidora has a unique way of connecting with kids, one that has made him plenty popular among the young crowd and highly in demand on the museum’s program schedule.

“He is just so magnetic,” she said, recalling last summer’s Dino Dig event, during which he walked on stilts, capturing the kids’ attention. “He doesn’t talk down to the children, he relates to them on their level.”

KidiMu regularly holds events featuring Sidora: He teaches pirate camps, runs Silly Science experiments and acts out Greek myths with eager young learners.

Steven Fogell, artistic director at Bainbridge Performing Arts, said he’s called on Sidora for the organization’s school outreach programs since Sidora joined a show at the theater and wowed everyone with his range.

“Over the course of all these years, he’s been my go-to guy,” Fogell said. “Whatever I threw at him, he would always just become and do an incredible job.”

Sidora grew up competing in talent shows and tournaments, learning early how to mimic a wide array of voices.

In 1996, when he earned his massage therapy license, was when he began to realize a tactile kind of equality in every person, he said.

“We have the same number of blood vessels, of bones,” he said. “All my clients, the only thing that they were lacking is the information about their body.”

So he thought up a program to teach kids early about the mechanics of their bodies, to encourage them to grow up healthy.

Sidora, now 39, moved to Bainbridge in 1999. He said he spent years trying to figure out what kids really need, and then provided it.

“They don’t have very many things to say they want to be,” he said. “I took it upon myself to be that role model.”

Effusing positive energy, and offering advice instead of punishment, Sidora continues to create an atmosphere where kids can discover and learn without being forced.

“It’s the coolest thing,” Sidora said of the effects of the program. “For me, it’s just what I do. I’m not trying to create some kind of mega-image. It just happens organically.”

Guy Sidora will hold a night of storytelling tonight at 6 p.m. Tomorrow, Feb. 20, he’ll hold a family scavenger hunt.

To reserve your spot for these events and learn more about Sidora’s classes for kids, visit www.GuySidora.com.

Read more from What's Up's interview with Sidora at The What's Up Blog.

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