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Shaler girls to take stage at storytelling festival

| Tuesday, July 31, 2012, 3:45 p.m.

The Three Rivers Storytelling Festival, held at Northland Library since 2001, features local talent as well as nationally known storytellers, and this year, a group of Shaler Area girls will return to share the stage with featured performers.

The Savvy Cinderellas, as the girls' storytelling group is called, will take the stage at the festival, which runs Aug. 10 to 11, in an encore performance after being invited to the festival for the first time last year.

"We were all excited to go back," said Becca Helfrich, of Shaler Township, who is an upcoming eighth-grader.

The Savvy Cinderella Storytelling Program, which teaches young girls self-esteem and confidence through storytelling, started at Shaler Area Elementary School four years ago with a group of fourth-grade girls. Today, the original storytellers perform as a traveling team throughout the year.

Last Friday, the Savvy Cinderellas put on a community show at the Shaler North Hills Library along with Ing Kalchthaler, the library's head of youth services, in preparation for their Storytelling Festival appearance.

"I feel honored that Joan (Schenker, Savvy Cinderella Program coordinator,) would allow me to perform alongside these girls," Kalchthaler said. "The library has been so proud to be a part of it (the Savvy Cinderella Program) ... to see them take the big stage, so to speak, is really neat."

The Savvy Cinderellas will perform at the festival on Saturday, Aug. 11, at 11 a.m. as an opening act for storyteller Bob Reiser, and at noon to introduce Micheal Reno Harrell on the outdoor stage.

"We have them open for other people, so they get more exposure," said Mary Morgan Smith, who is organizing the festival.

Kara Bosilovich, Kara Jans, Taylor Jones and Sara Walker will tell three folk tales from around the world, including "The Farmer's Fun-Loving Daughter," "The Tailor's Jacket" and "The Girl Who Wore Too Much."

Over the past four years, the storytellers have learned tricks to performing the stories and engaging an audience. Each storyteller prepares in her own way, from practicing for hours to improve timing to rehearsing in front of a mirror minutes before a performance.

"You don't have to be perfect when you tell a story," said Kara Bosilovich, an upcoming eighth-grader. "In storytelling, you can improvise and add your own thing."

The girls plan to incorporate their own personality into the stories by including props, facial expressions and gestures. Sara Walker even will play the violin in "The Farmer's Fun-Loving Daughter."

"Even though you have to memorize what the parts of the story are, you're an artist and you can mold it," Joan Schenker, Savvy Cinderella Program coordinator, said.

For additional information about the Three Rivers Storytelling Festival, visit

For more information about the Savvy Cinderella Storytelling Program, contact Joan Schenker at savvycinderel or call 412-364-3250.

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