Friday, November 30, 2007

Carnival of the Animals

As I have been promising, a discussion on the creation of Carnival of the Animals.  I always think its important to get the audience in the mood for whatever piece they are going to watch. So as a pre-show overture, we had snippets of different "animal" songs, finishing up with Sammy Davis, Jr's ultra-cool, ultra hip rendition of "Talk to the Animals" from Dr. Dolittle.
After which, I had a local actress (Dana Hooley) who has a lovely, distinctive speaking voice recite sections of different poems that related to the different animals that we would be seeing.

There are some specific poems, written by Ogden Nash, that go with the piece, but since I didn't use many of the original animals, and since I wasn't that fond of the punnish humor, I chose to use a variety of poems from different authors. This ended up working well, as I was using a variety of different types of music.

The first section of the ballet was all sort of a "Life Aquatique" section. 

Beginning with the original Aqaurium danced by a sextet of ballerinas in disk like tutus with watery veils over there heads...

We then moved to a samba-infused lagoon where we cavorted with a trio of frogs and a lizard. This dance section then finishes with an aggressive female solo set to a folksong about a "big Kaiman" or alligator.

I didn't really want to do complete costumes for this piece as...

1) The budget did not permit it and...
2) I like seeing people dance, not costumes
So the "fish" in the aquarium were fish because they actually did some movement based on the "Swim" a dance from the 60's as well as the use of bourees ( a ballet step that looks as if the dancers is skimming above the surface of the stage.)

The "frog" costume featured lots of green and large oversized glasses to mimic the frogs large eyes. The ladies choreography featured lots of plies in an exaggerated 2nd position on point.

The "lizard" choreography took advantage of dancer Chris Blurton's acrobatic abilities.

And the "alligator" was an opportunity to look at a new Swiss dancer, Corinne Emmenegger and see what she was capable of. Her long train on her vibrant green dress was meant to by a suggestion of an alligators tail as it swooshes behind her, making ripples in the lagoon.

The whole section was alot of fun, as members from each previous section would stay on and become part of the "happy, dancing" pond community. 

It was like a Brazilian Carnival, but very, very green.



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