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Students work their magic concocting potions at Hogwarts-inspired camp
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SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT | STUDIO DANSU

Students work their magic concocting potions at Hogwarts-inspired camp

From the School Spotlight: Adventures in learning, inside and outside the classroom series
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Basic household ingredients combined to create magical “exploding” potions to the delight of Malaya Sabalones, who screamed as the mixture cascaded onto a table at a camp based on the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry of “Harry Potter” fame.

She called out to the other campers saying, “Green everywhere, people. It’s fun. It’s harmless.”

“They are gooey and warm,” fourth-grader Malaya said about the potions. “I never had a science class like this.”

One of the ways she experienced a green-colored potion by covering her hands in it.

“I like how I’m just watching it and her hands are just completely covered,” sixth-grader Miriam Pasquinelli said. “It’s like fun and fluffy.”

Malaya was taking part in a camp called “Hogwarts: Classes in Session” last week at Studio Dansu, a performing arts and dance studio on Madison’s South Side. It was the third time running a wizardry-themed camp at the studio and it is a popular one, said Jayme Shimooka, owner and artistic director.

“Most of the students who sign up for a camp like that are ‘Harry Potter’ fans,” Shimooka said. “The kids get to get immersed in a role or in a world very similar to what they would in a theatrical production.”

Ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, food coloring and yeast were combined in various ways to mimic potions found in “Harry Potter,” a series of seven fantasy novels that chronicle the lives of the young wizard and his friends who are students at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Glitter became dragon scales, and dish soap was worm guts.

Tessa Navin, a staff member who was running the Hogwarts camp, said the campers particularly enjoyed making wands and potions.

“We change it a little bit to make it more exploding,” Navin said about the potion mixtures. Campers “have lots of fun and they get to meet new people with similar interests.”

Shimooka, who opened the arts studio about six years ago, said she started running camps the first year because she had worked at Madison School & Community Recreation camps and enjoyed the format. She said her camps incorporate some form of art, such as dance, theater, music and other creative expressions.

Last week’s Hogwarts camp was designed for ages 9 and up. This year for the first time the studio also will run a similar camp for children ages 6 to 9.

The Hogwarts camp ran for three hours a day for five days. The students first took a “Harry Potter” quiz to be sorted in their “houses,” or groups, to mimic the way the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry was divided into four houses. Then they made T-shirts and accessories that were in their house colors.

Other activities included hunting for plastic owls hidden outside. Campers took part in an obstacle course and played the “Muggle” version of Quidditch on foot with balls. They also tested their knowledge with some trivia work.

Seventh-grader Milo Divine-Scott said he has watched all of the “Harry Potter” movies and is on the first book. He liked playing Quidditch at the camp and meeting new people.

Sixth-grader Cooper Donahue said he really likes “Harry Potter” and enjoyed playing Quidditch and making wands.

“It’s really fun because I like ‘Harry Potter’ a lot,” fifth-grader Kaden Hoffman said.

“The kids get to get immerse in a role or in a world very similar to what they would in a theatrical production.”

Jayme Shimooka, Studio Dansu owner and artistic director

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