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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: dance, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Spider's Yarn


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2. Dare to Dance: Introducing Dance Movements and Music into your Storytimes

Are you ready to energize your storytimes with dancing that goes beyond movement songs? Are you ready to dare to use your body to motivate caregivers while promoting children’s developmental needs for coordination, balance and gross motor skills?

Dancing Girls

Kids enjoy the Music in this Public Domain image from Cane River Creole National Historical Park

Our library expanded the role of our storytimes into a program that offers more than reading books, nursery rhymes and singing songs. We introduced Dance Time to teach children basic dance steps while listening to an age appropriate song.

There is so much librarians can do to enhance the library experience through dancing. Dancing provides opportunities for adults and children to learn to:

  • Follow the beats of the song with their feet and or hands
  • Balance their body parts
  • Coordinate their body movements

Additional benefits of dancing include:

  • Improve muscle tone
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Increase ability to feel comfortable about oneself

Although dancing is a natural channel of expression for many cultures, children from other cultures, including some that are predominant in the United Stated, are hardly exposed to it. In some cultures, babies are exposed to music and dancing from birth, with moms dancing around holding their babies in their arms regularly. Soon baby and mommy-and-baby dancing transforms into a semi dancing lesson with caregivers holding and moving their toddles’ hands and arms while following the beats of a song. As the child’s motor skills develop, the caregiver will now focus on simple steps using the child’s legs and feet. Dance will continue be part of the child’s life in elementary school where different dances are taught in music class.

Coming from a culture where this type of exposure to dance is widespread, in my work as a Youth Services Librarian, I noticed that lack of coordinated body movements following a rhythmic patterns in children attending our programs. Naturally, this observation changes depending on the cultural background of clients.

As a result of my observations, I supplemented our storytimes with a portion of the program called Dance Time. During Dance Time, children and caregivers are encouraged to dance to a tune following three basic dance steps that are reinforced at every storytime. When I introduced Dance Time for the first time, many children and parents were reluctant to follow me. However, after a couple months of Dance Time, these same clients appeared more relaxed and moved happily following the beat of the music.

Music is contagious and is an excellent tool to uplift spirits and transform a library program into a lifelong learning experience. Many librarians already use children’s songs during storytime. However, have you offered a “dance activity” or “movement song” to invigorate your programs? Let us know about it in the comments below.

If you feel ready to dare, try the following dance songs in your storytime:

  • Palo, palo Music Together. Palo, Palo. [Arranged and adapted by Gerry Dignan and K. Guilmartin]. Music Together: Bringing harmony Home [CD]. Princeton NJ: (2007)
  • El baile del perrito (Wilfrido Vargas)

***************************************************************************

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Kathia Ibacache. Kathia is a Youth Services Librarian at Simi Valley Public Library. She has worked as a music teacher and Early Music Performer and earned a MLIS from San José State University and a DMA from the University of Southern California. She loves to read realistic fiction and horror stories and has a special place in her heart for film music.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at [email protected].

The post Dare to Dance: Introducing Dance Movements and Music into your Storytimes appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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3. Five questions for Barbara McClintock

Barbara McClintockEach of author/illustrator Barbara McClintock’s picture books provides a glimpse into a jewel-box of a world, from bustling early-twentieth-century Paris (Adèle & Simon; Farrar, 4–7 years) to a cozy 1970s mouse-house (Where’s Mommy?, written by Beverly Donofrio; Schwartz & Wade, 4–7 years). Her latest, Emma and Julia Love Ballet (Scholastic, 4–7 years), does the same for the vibrant world of ballet, giving readers a look at the daily routines of two dancers: one a student just starting out, the other a professional in her prime. A dancer myself, I jumped at the chance to talk to Barbara about how she translates movement to the page.

1. How did you decide on this day-in-the-life, compare-and-contrast format for showcasing a dancer’s reality?

BM: I blame two of my favorite books for putting the idea in my head: The Borrowers by Mary Norton and The Philharmonic Gets Dressed by Karla Kuskin, illustrated by Marc Simont. The parallel world of The Borrowers fascinated me as a child. And I fell in love — hard! — with the behind-the-scenes showering, sock-pulling-on, hair-combing, and beard-trimming preparations of orchestral musicians before their evening performance in The Philharmonic Gets Dressed.

My older sister Kathleen lived, breathed, ate, and slept ballet when she was little, and I’d wanted to make a book honoring her for a long time. She took me to my first professional dance performance, which proved to have a profound influence on my creative life. Her passion for dance inspired me to believe in myself as an artist.

2. Many of your books are set in bygone eras, with richly evoked historical settings full of texture and detail. How does your process differ when you’re portraying a contemporary setting rather than recreating a historical one?

BM: I tend to use slightly bolder, brushlike line work, little or no crosshatching, and brighter colors when working with a contemporary setting. Modern surfaces are shinier, glossier, brighter, harder. Metal and glass predominate. I find it’s easier to depict those hard, shiny surfaces with gradated watercolor washes. Textural ink crosshatching seems appropriate for older stone, wood, and plaster surfaces.

Modern forms call for fluid lines, less encumbered by lots of line work. There’s detail in contemporary buildings and clothing, but forms are more nuanced, freer, with open patterns and simplified shapes compared to historical structures and fashion.

Shapes of contemporary things that move — cars, airplanes, trains — are smooth and somewhat egg-shaped, reflecting aerodynamic design considerations. Carriages, carts, and buggies are boxy, with lots of angles, which makes for different compositional elements in pictures.

mcclintock_emma and julia love ballet23. The format of Emma and Julia Love Ballet is almost graphic novel–like, with the illustrations changing sizes and shapes to accelerate the pacing. How do you know what size illustration to use when?

BM: The size and shape of the illustrations is all about creating a sense of time, movement, emotion, and place.

Vignettes isolate characters to form a sense of intimacy between the reader and the character, like a spotlighted actor on stage. There can be a powerful emotional component to vignettes. Toward the end of the book as Emma prepares to go to the ballet performance, we see her in her fancy coat, with no background, nothing else in the image. Her facial expression alone tells us this is an important time for her. Anything else in the scene would impede the immediacy of her excitement.

Vignettes can also signify rapid movement and the passage of time. Several small vignettes on a page require only short amounts of time to look at. This visual device works well to depict Emma and Julia stretching, jumping, and spinning. Viewing several small images in quick succession can be like looking at a flip-book that gives the impression of fast, fluid motion.

Broad, dramatic scenes create a sense of mood and establish place; and fuller, detailed pictures slow the reader down at significant moments by creating an environment that invites investigation. That lingering pause can give majesty to a scene or narrative concept.

At the very end of the book, I wanted to go back to a vignette approach. We see Emma and Julia connected by their shared love of ballet. I wanted Emma and Julia to dominate and fill up the entire page with no external stuff to clutter up their emotional connection. This is their story, and they tell us absolutely and directly how they feel about ballet and each other.

4. You observed the Connecticut Concert Ballet as models for the illustrations, and took some ballet classes yourself for research. How did your perspective — or your illustrations — change after these experiences?

BM: I have a much better idea of just how hard a plié in fifth position is on your inner thighs!

Watching people in motion is a much different experience than simply studying photographs. Semi-realistic drawing has so much to do with gesture, and the best way to understand how an arm or leg really moves through space is to observe someone in the act of moving. As I draw the sweep of an arm, I get inside that motion. I’m not entirely sure how to express this, but I feel the movement in my head as a physical motion and visualize where that arm is going, then translate that motion as well as I can in a two-dimensional way on paper.

Ballet has its own regimented structure of movement. I just dipped into the surface of knowledge of ballet training, but hopefully enough to give some authenticity to the way the dancers in my book move.

Barbara loves ballet

Barbara in the ballet studio

5. The book is dedicated in part to the wonderful Judith Jamison, dancer and Artistic Director Emerita of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Is there a particular role of Ms. Jamison’s that resonates most with you?

BM: In the early 1970s my sister took me to see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Minneapolis. Judith Jamison was the featured soloist. This was the first professional dance performance I’d ever seen. I had no idea what to expect, and was almost afraid to go. Any hesitation vanished the moment Judith stepped on stage. She dominated space and time, creating vivid shapes and patterns.

Judith performed Cry, a sixteen-minute solo homage to black women, choreographed by Alvin Ailey for his mother with Judith in mind. Judith expressed grief, depression, loss, redemption, and joy as eloquently as any novelist. I loved dance from that evening on.

Judith’s presence, authority, and grace inspired me in my work. I admired her, and looked up to Judith as a role model — a woman who was in command of her talent and a force almost bigger than life.

From the January 2016 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

The post Five questions for Barbara McClintock appeared first on The Horn Book.

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4. Bob Shea’s Ballet Cat Collection Prize Pack| Book Giveaway

Enter to win a Ballet Cat collection prize pack! Giveaway begins February 8, 2016, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends March 7, 2016, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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5. Michaela DePrince, Author of Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina | Speed Interview

The extraordinary memoir of Michaela DePrince, a young dancer who escaped war-torn Sierra Leone for the rarefied heights of American ballet.

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6. Is it all in the brain? An inclusive approach to mental health

For many years, the prevailing view among both cognitive scientists and philosophers has been that the brain is sufficient for cognition, and that once we discover its secrets, we will be able to unravel the mysteries of the mind. Recently however, a growing number of thinkers have begun to challenge this prevailing view that mentality is a purely neural phenomenon.

The post Is it all in the brain? An inclusive approach to mental health appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. a bit about creating poster artwork

Amongst all the other illustration work I do, I also co-run Dr Sketchy Sheffield and, so, being the sketching half of the team (my co-running partner is from the performance arts), I create the poster artwork. It's one of my favourite things to illustrate. Because it makes me feel closer to the poster artists, from days gone by, who's work I adore. I wish there were more call for poster artists. These days it's all done digitally so I like to buck that trend with purely illustrated posters (and I wouldn't have a clue how to do it digitally).

Now once we've set our theme for our Dr Sketchy event the idea for the poster image pretty much comes to me straight away. Sometimes without even having to think about it. Really, it's just there. I see it - the whole poster - fully formed. I then just need to put it onto paper.

Our next event (next Saturday, at the Greystones, Sheffield!) will be a celebration of dance. We have performers from different genres of dance modelling and, erm, dancing for us. We have a belly dancer, a breakdancer, a bhangra dancer amongst others. So, already I knew I had to get that info into the drawing. The first and original thought was of the kind of drawing in the image above. I think it's important to go with that initial idea if it has presented itself to you. I love those 'consequences' drawings. I've heard them called other things and somebody once told me that they were known as 'exquisite cadaver' drawings. I think that's such a great name, which conjures up all sorts of weird and wonderful images, so I'll be sticking with that.

I made a few exquisite cadaver sketches, like the one above, to try it out. To see if it worked. I'll be honest with you, I think the trial run above is still my favourite. I guess that's because it was the most spontaneous. Then when I'd got one that I felt would work as a poster image I sketched it out onto a 'proper' bit of paper. I always add the image first, leaving room for the text. Sometimes I will play around with where I want to place the image. I did with this one - I tried her on both sides of the page and central before settling on this composition.

For the text I always quickly research (Google) posters or fonts until I find something that fits. For example, I'll Google 'Bollywood poster fonts' or some such thing. This one was a combination of various fonts because of the variety of dance genres. When I find a font I like I loosely copy it. I don't measure out the letters, nothing technical happens, I just copy it by eye (is that even a saying? It looks odd now it's typed out). I don't want it to look exactly like the fonts I find. I want it to be my own version of them.

Anyway, that's a little (ish) explanation of how I create my posters. Now anyone want a poster illustration? I'm for hire. I'm always for hire.
 

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8. Cold War dance diplomacy

Why did the US State Department sponsor international dance tours during the Cold War? An official government narrative was sanctioned and framed by the US State Department and its partner organization, the United States Information Agency (USIA—and USIS abroad). However, the tours countered that narrative.

The post Cold War dance diplomacy appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. Flora and the Flamingo

A 2014 Caldecott Honor Book
In this innovative wordless picture book with interactive flaps, Flora and her graceful flamingo friend explore the trials and joys of friendship through an elaborate synchronized dance. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Full of humor and heart, this stunning performance (and splashy ending!) will have readers clapping for more!

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10. the dance begins ~ solo performance by a member of the Dance Troupe of Fierce Self Belief

dancetroupe-one


Filed under: dances, moon

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11. The Power of Dance

I told you I wanted to be a dancer, didn’t I?

No? Well, now you know. But I didn’t have the flexibility for it and … oh fine, I never went down that road because dancing is HARD.

Whenever I’m feeling … off, or need to relax or simply escape, I will crawl into bed, put my earbuds on, open my Pandora app on my phone and fantasize that I’m a great dancer who spontaneously breaks into dance at work, or I’m a professional dancer on stage, or I’m simply out and about in daily life and no one ever finds that weird or disturbing and I MOVE people with the my interpretive dance.

I think that’s why I love, love, LOVE this video.

Did anyone else get goosebumps watching this?


Filed under: random stuff

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12. a solo performance by a member of the Dance Troupe of Fierce Self Belief (with a brief appearance by Goose)

NB: I wasn’t sure whether to put this here, or in The Kingdom of Stupid

a solo performance by a member of the dance troupe of fierce self belief (with a brief appearance by Goose)


Filed under: dances

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13. a small, roughly hewn (I love that expression…even though I’m not entirely sure of its meaning), scrappy dance-picture-poem about love…

tinylovepoem-three


Filed under: dances, love, poetry

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14. #795 – The Reindeer Dance by Christianne C. Jones & Emma Randall

The Reindeer Dance Series: Holiday Jingles Written by Christianne C. Jones Illustrated by Emma Randall Picture Window Books     8/01/2015 978-1-4795-6496-5 20 pages     Ages 0—3 “Move like Santa’s reindeer, Hop in a graceful prance. Then twirl and spin and shake To do the reindeer dance!” [back cover] “Move those hooves and dance …

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15. This 83-Year-Old Dancer Is Still Onstage

carmendelavallade_2013christopher.duggan_010_custom-098be89873ed261908bb046476364653c4cc956a-s4-c85

“‘Eat your heart out, Beyonce,’ she says watching herself do moves that are strikingly similar to the pop diva’s.”

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16. When Bill T. Jones Met John Cage

Bill_T_Jones_MG_027_PP

“[Cage] literally represented for me everything cool and removed and sophisticated at a time when I was trying to wend my way into the art world.” The choreographer talks about the genesis of his dance-theater work Story/Time.

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17. “Dance Is An Intellectual Art Form”: Wayne McGregor On Choreography, Creativity, And Cognition

rwayne_mc_gregor_random_dance_c_nick_mead_high_res

“We have this idea, partly because of the past, of choreographers just coming and dancers just doing as if they’re not thinking. We know that dance is as much a cognitive act as it is a physical act. That’s why I’ve been very interested in physical thinking. If it’s a cognitive act, how is it that you can inspire people to be more creative cognitively?”

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18. How’s Modern Dance Doing In Vietnam?

arabesque

“We have a history of war, but we are not trying to promote that, but rather bring the feeling of what we have through contemporary dance, through the eyes of a young generation.”

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19. Peter Sellars To Stage His First Dance Work

flexn

“[He] has directed operas and theater, collaborated with Toni Morrison and staged St. Matthew’s [sic] Passion with the Berlin Philharmonic. Now, he will turn his attention to Flex, a Brooklyn-born form of street dance, in a commission from the Park Avenue Armory [in New York].”

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20. How Ballet Changed Through The 20th Century – In Photos

Harlem Dance Theatre

“From Vaslav Nijinsky to Benjamin Millepied, Anna Pavlov to Sylvie Guillem, the collection of vintage portraits gives a mostly black-and-white glimpse into over a century’s worth of ballet greats.”

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21. Elisa Monte Retires From Her Dance Company

imgres

“Ms. Monte made her professional debut dancing with Agnes DeMille in the 1957 revival of “Carousel” and has been a principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company, among others. Her company has more than 40 repertory works and is known for its physical vigor and a style that defies categorization.”

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22. Ten facts about cumbia, Colombia’s principal musical style

In celebration of tonight’s Latin Grammy Awards, I delved into Grove Music Online to learn more about distinct musical styles and traditions of Latin American countries. Colombia’s principal musical style is the cumbia, with its related genres porro and vallenato. In the traditional cumbia proper, couples dance in a circle around seated musicians, with the woman shuffling steps while the man moves in a more zigzag pattern around her. The cumbia usually takes place at night while women hold bundles of candles in colored handkerchiefs in their right hands. Although traditional cumbia is now primarily performed by folklore troupes at Carnivals and other festivals, cumbia has contributed significantly to the development of related musical styles. Below are ten interesting facts about the cumbia.

  1. The cumbia is accompanied by one of two ensembles: the conjunto de cumbia (also known as cumbiamba) and the conjunto de gaitas. The former consists of five instruments, while the latter includes two duct flutes, a llamador and a maraca.
  2. The conjunto de cumbia includes one melody instrument called the caña de millo (‘cane of millet’), locally known as the pito, which is a clarinet made of a tube open at both ends with four finger holes near one end and a reed cut from the tube itself at the other end.
  3. Other instruments include the gaita hembra (‘female flute’) and the gaita macho (‘male flute’). While the gaita hembra is used for the melody, the gaita macho provides heterophony in conjunction with a maraca.
  4. The bullerengue and the danza de negro are two other musical genres of the region, which have African characteristics. The bullerengue is an exhibition dance, filled with hip movement, performed by a single couple. Meanwhile, the danza de negro is a special Carnival dance performed by men who paint themselves blue, strip to the waist, dance in a crouched position with wooden swords, and demand money or rum from passerby.
  5. In the early 20th century, town brass bands began adapting the cumbia to a more cosmopolitan style. Between 1905 and 1910, musicians in numerous towns began these adaptations, which were strongly developed in the town of San Pelayo. Thus, the terms pelayera or papayeraare commonly used in reference to this type of ensemble.
  6. Vallenato, a genre related to traditional cumbia, also originated in the Colombian Atlantic region. Performed by an ensemble consisting of accordion, vocals, caja (a small double-headed drum) and guacharaca (a notched gourd scraper), vallenato is similar to cumbia in accenting beats 2 and 4, but places a stronger emphasis on the crotchet-quaver rhythmic cell.
  7. Another style of music related to cumbia is Música tropical, which developed from the dance band arrangements of Afro-Colombian styles during the 1930s and 40s. Música tropical is similar to the ballroom rumba popular throughout the Americas and Europe, although with it maintains a simpler rhythmic base and more florid melodic style.
  8. Música tropical also offered a response to the international vogue for Cuban Music, which was both Caribbean and uniquely Colombian at the same time. By the late 1950s, música tropical had found its way into the leading social clubs and ballrooms of the country.
  9. Throughout the 1960s, música tropical remained the national Colombian style. Recordings by groups like La Sonora Dinamita, Los Corraleros de Majagual and Los Graduados enjoyed a brief national popularity, but had a greater impact outside the country, spreading a simplified form of cumbia to Mexico, Central America, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile, where the style became very important.
  10. During the 1940s and 50s the musical pioneers Lucho Bermúdez and Pacho Galán composed and arranged big-band adaptations of cumbias, among other genres, popularizing the sound which became the new national music of Colombia.

Finally, watch a well-known cumbia — La pollera colera:

Headline image credit: Monumento a la cumbia, 2006. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

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23. Read & Romp Roundup: Sept/Oct 2014

Welcome to the September/October Read & Romp Roundup! And since it's actually November, this post also gives me an opportunity to highlight one of my favorite online celebrations -- Picture Book Month! The Picture Book Month blog is full of posts from children's book authors and illustrators who have been sharing all month long why picture books are important to them. It's a very inspiring read, and one I am feeling thankful for this time of year!


Just in time for the cold weather, Darshana at Flowering Minds reviews the new picture book Flora and the Penguin -- the sequel to the popular Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle. Her post includes a delightful trailer for this lift-the-flap book about friendship, told through beautiful ice dancing scenes with the two main characters.


At Wild Things Yoga, Kathleen shares some yoga ideas to go with Manfish: A Story of  Jacque Cousteau by Jennifer Berne and Eric Puybaret. She uses the book to talk about the concept of Ahimsa (non-violence) and try out some fun yoga poses related to the sea!


At Mother Daughter & Son Book Reviews, Renee and her son highlight the new picture book Twelve Dancing Unicorns by Alissa Heyman and Justin Gerard -- a variation of Twelve Dancing Princesses but with unicorns instead! Renee says the book is "an absolutely enchanting tale weaving the themes of magic, love, and friendship" with artwork that is "among the best I've seen in picture books."


Book to Boogie is a monthly series of the Library as Incubator Project in which guest bloggers pair picture books with movement activities for story time. The September post was on Quick as a Cricket by Audrey and Don Wood. The October post was on Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball by Vicki Churchill and Charles Fuge.


Debbie at American Indians in Children's Literature features Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle by Carole Lindstrom and Kimberley McKay. The main character is a girl named Metisse who would rather play the fiddle than dance, even though most people in her community expect girls to dance. Metisse is part of an Aboriginal group known as the Métis people, who live in parts of Canada and the Northern United States. According to Debbie, you can find elements of Métis culture on every page! 

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24. Review of Firebird

copeland_firebirdFirebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How to Dance like the Firebird
by Misty Copeland; 
illus. by Christopher Myers
Primary   Putnam   40 pp.
9/14   978-0-399-16615-0   $17.99   g

Think you can simply write off celebrity books? Think again. American Ballet Theatre soloist Copeland is just as graceful with words as she is with her body. Here she addresses the next generation as she imagines a dialogue between herself and a young female African American ballet student who claims she is “gray as rain / heavy as naptime, low as a storm pressing on rooftops.” Copeland reassures the girl that she had the same self-doubts, and “darling child, don’t you know / you’re just where I started.” Myers’s stunning collages layer strips of thickly painted paper to echo the wings of a firebird (Copeland’s signature role), whether they are illustrating the stage curtains or a cloudy sky. His deep, rich colors make even the portraits of the dancers at rest dramatic, and when the dancers are on stage, they seem to fly. The words of the girl appear in italics and the dancer’s words in boldface to clearly differentiate between the speakers. In an author’s note, Copeland tells us that, as a child, she never saw herself in ballet books; this book encourages today’s aspiring dancers of all colors and backgrounds.

From the November/December 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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25. Bellydance Evolution: Alice in Wonderland

alice in wonderland posterYou may be wondering, “What the heck does bellydancing have to do with children’s books?” Having seen Bellydance Evolution’s production of Alice in Wonderland on Wednesday night, I can assure you that the two do play together nicely when brought together in a thoughtful way.

According to the mission statement on their site, dance company Bellydance Evolution “explores, celebrates, and re-imagines Middle Eastern dance for the 21st century. By fusing bellydance with dance forms more specific to the West, Bellydance Evolution takes you on a spectacular journey that will excite both mainstream audiences and bellydance enthusiasts.” The company — led by director Jillina — tours its productions with a small core cast, filling out the ensemble cast by video-auditioning local dancers at each stop. The Boston performance on Wednesday, January 7th included two Boston dancers (one a troupemate and dear friend of mine) and several NYC dancers.

“Evolution,” indeed: Alice in Wonderland was one of the most innovative and truly fusion dance productions I’ve ever seen. The dance forms showcased ranged from traditional Middle Eastern dance to contemporary styles including tribal fusion bellydance, hip-hop, and breakdance. Much of the score was symphonic-plus-electronic music, composed specifically for the show by Paul Dinletir; other pieces were classical Arabic, Arabic pop, or played live by drummer Issam Houshan. (The dancers also contributed drumming for a handful of scenes.)

The story line followed Disney’s animated adaptation more than the original Carroll novel. All the various styles of music and dance were well integrated, both “bellydancey” and serving the narrative with a playfulness appropriate to the source materials. A quarrelsome duet by Tweedledee and Tweedledum paid homage to raqs al assaya, a folkloric cane dance, with the spinning of the dancers’ canes reflecting the that of the propellers on their caps — and, of course, every so often one twin using her cane to wallop the other. The virtuosic, breakdancing White Rabbit almost stole the show. He was pursued through the audience at various points by (bellydancing) Alice and the Queen of Hearts.

The use of (lots of) props and costumes was especially well considered and creative. In one scene, dancers with parasols milled around the stage, then came together into a phalanx-like formation with the parasols’ tops facing the audience… suddenly creating the gigantic, grinning, floating face of the Cheshire Cat. In the croquet scene, dancers in pale pink, flapper-inspired costumes sported one beaked glove and one feather fan to represent the flamingos-cum-croquet mallets.

These are just a few of Alice in Wonderland‘s many inspired moments; see more in the trailer. I’m familiar with the story, but without a program I still occasionally found it difficult to follow the narrative and to identify minor characters — “Oh, she’s the March Hare!” (It seems programs were available at a merch table downstairs from my ticketed seat.) The caliber of dancing and staging was so high that even when I was a bit confused I was having a blast. I’m an aficionado of both bellydancing and kids’ books, but you needn’t be a super-fan of either to enjoy this immensely entertaining production.

And if you’re intrigued by the idea of bellydancing children’s books, come on down to the Geeky Bellydance Show at Arisia sci-fi and fantasy convention on January 17th! I’ll be performing as Sabriel from Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom Chronicles; other dancers will pay tribute to Tolkien and Gaiman, as well as many other geek-culture icons.

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