New Photographs

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Below we have some fantastic photos from dress rehearsal!  Check them out after the jump!

Thoughts from Rebecca

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Over the last few weeks, Rebecca has been responding to questions posted as comments on this blog. Below, I’ve excerpted some of these responses into an entry. Read on!
 
…There have been many staging’s of Debussy’s Toy Box, some we know more about than others, but it was clear to me early in the process that the lack of documentation would shift this project out of the realm of recreation and towards an original choreography. There were several productions between 1920-1925, (student Pilar Castro-Kiltz is writing her departmental thesis on the history of these productions) but none have substantial choreographic notes, recordings about the creative process, or drawings of any specific steps to gather a sense of style, action, or gesture. It was necessary for me to focus on the inspiration of the materials, the artistic goals, the impulse to create this work, and at the heart of the work was a desire to make a dance for children. From here I imagined creating a play space with the students where they could be transformed and engrossed in a sense of discovery.

Exclusive Historical Tidbit!

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Here is some fabulous material for Krazy Kat, from Michael Tisserand, the authorized biographer of George Herriman, who created the Krazy Kat comic strip.  Enjoy!

“SLIP ME A LITTLE INFORMATION ON WHAT YOU WANT ME TO DO OPERA BALLETS AND I ARE TOTAL STRANGERS HELP.”
 

This was, in part, the text of a November 1920 telegram that cartoonist George Herriman sent to composer John Carpenter, as Carpenter was securing rights to transform Herriman’s masterpiece comic strip “Krazy Kat” into a jazz ballet, which would be staged at The Town Hall in New York City in January, 1922.
 

Helle Exhibit at Cotsen Children's Library

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Here's a link to the poster for the Helle exhibit at the Cotsen Children's Library at Firestone!  You should stop by!

Toy Theater-poster(rev3).pdf

First Rehearsal on Stage!

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Hanging out at the Berlind Theater and Rebecca has her cast all onstage!  It's so exciting to see it all really starting to come together! 

The Creative Process: Some Personal Reflections

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 Watching "Toy Box" begin to come together has been an absolutely fascinating experience.  In a rehearsal room, I'm used to being the dancer or the choreographer, the creator or the created-upon.  These days, I'm more observer.  That's not to say, of course, that I don't ever participate, I do, but it's more tangentially than usual--I'll spot a lift, suggest a solution, annotate a score.  I'm not an active participant in the same way that I am when I'm choreographing or dancing.

But this kind of distance has really allowed me to see this project from many angles--perhaps more so than I could have as either dancer or choreographer.  Because Rebecca has assigned each of the students to create some of the choreographic material and vocabulary, the rehearsal room is always bustling with creative energy and insight that I get to watch happen.  I'm beginning to see how the lizard dance will morph into the ballerina dance into the policeman dance.  

On the Music (and Musical Borrowings) of The Toy Box

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Besides an homage to childhood, Debussy’s The Toy Box also seems to be a tribute to the works, and composers, that inspired him. The score is, in short, a collection of his favorite musical toys.

Most of the scholarship on the ballet concerns its presumed – and I use that word deliberately – fidelity to Igor Stravinsky’s Petrushka. Robert Orledge suggests numerous references to Stravinsky’s score, the most significant, in his view, being a passage near the start of the score. A chain of chromatic thirds in Debussy’s prelude seemingly recalls the entrance of the ballerina in scene 2 of Stravinsky’s ballet. Moreover, in The Toy Box Punchinello is represented by a theme comprising alternating seconds; a comparison can perhaps be made to the alternating seconds representing the ghost of Petrushka, except that Debussy sticks to major seconds, while Stravinsky alternates major and minor. The two scores share the octatonic scale, although Stravinsky relies on it more heavily than Debussy, and there are some common instrumental choices (for example, snare drum rolls mark the transition between scenes). Yet the references to Petrushka, such as they are, mingle with echoes of other Stravinsky works, notably The Firebird and The Rite of Spring. Ultimately, Debussy proves too subtle a composer for musicological games of gotcha: he resists directly quoting Stravinsky’s melodies and harmonies. Instead he alludes to much more elusive things: the texture (thickness or thinness) of Stravinsky’s scoring in certain passages; the instrumental combinations he prefers; the registers within which real and invented snatches of folksong fall.

 

Official Poster for Table's Clear, Krazy Kat, the Toy Box

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Creative Ideas from Krazy Kat

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Tracy, the director of Krazy Kat, sent along some of the ideas that she has expressed to her class.  Take a look after the jump!

Three Minutes

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The work started for real last week in Rebecca’s DAN 409 class. As of this Monday, we have a whole three minutes of the piece put together and lots more on the way! Students have each been given assignments to begin generating material while Rebecca works on the overall structure. The assignments have been based on different types of toys in a toy box: dolls, soldiers, stuffed animals, bouncy balls, and all other sorts of things that inspire children’s imaginations. We’ve also been looking at lots of youtube clips for inspiration! Hopefully we’ll get an update soon from Krazy Kat and the musicians!