Thursday, January 10, 2008

Le Rhinoceros

The monkeys are followed in the parade of animals by... Le Rhinoceros.
Here are Pali (sans horn) and Chelsy (happy to be a Flamingo as opposed to a Rhino) in rehearsal for the pas de deux.

The horn was actually part of a viking helmet and was quite large. I was pleasantly surprised by how well Pali dealt with it. So yes, Chelsy and Pali danced together in Romeo and Juliet and then again here. In Joplinesque, Chelsy is partnered by Askar and Pali dances with Abby, but its good to keep partners together for a bit, so they get used to each others timing, balance points, etc.

This piece utilized some movement from a tango that we did with the Grossmont Symphony. About half of it was recycled and the rest choreographed specifically for this piece.

It doesn't bother me that we re-used some movement phrases, as they were quite nice. Since the other piece was a one time thing, if I didn't recycle them they would be lost. The new stuff featured a great deal of develope's in profile, mimicking a Rhino horn and struts in profile, to show off the horn Pali would eventually wear.

The music itself was a blast to work with. I believe I have spoken about serendipitously finding the music for much of this ballet on a disc at the checkout stand at Whole Foods Market. Well the second I heard this piece, I knew I had struck gold. It is a bouncy jazz... tango... sung in French... by two twelve year old boys... about a rhinoceros.

"Le otorhinoceros. Ces't un animal feroce..."

I always enjoyed watching this piece, but the end seemed a bit flat. The dancers were choreographed to go back to the top and repeat a section. Young choreographers sometimes shy away from repeats in movement phrases, because they feel that it means they have run out of ideas. What they forget is that most of the dance going public is not that familiar with the vocabulary of dance. Seeing repeated phrases allows the audience to understand and take in the movement in a complete way.

Much as musically when you hear a popular song, bridges and refrains are repeated, sometimes verbatum. No one accuses the song writer of running out of ideas. Rather they look forward to the inevitability of coming back to a part of the song which is familiar.

So I knew that I wanted a repeat in the dance, but it wasn't quite jelling. Some of the other dancers were playing around on the side (as it was a popular dance with the rest of the company) and I realized what had to happen. The rest of the ballet had to "intrude" into the dance. So I just set two very simple crosses far, far upstage. First the Lion and Tiger from stage right to stage left. Then the Lizard and the Alligator opposite them.

It was pretty much just (in a tight ballroom dance position), step, step, step, step, look at the audience, look at your partner. Repeat ad infinitum.

It was all that I needed. It distracted the audience a bit (but not TOO much), so I had a semi-split focus, forcing the audience to decide where they wanted to look. Which was all I needed. Just a teeny bit of added interest.

Oh and for anyone who is interested, I was doing some blog cleanup and I realized that one of the posts had never been posted. If you go back to August 07, you will find an extra post about Audrey Hepburn and Funny Face.



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