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New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

In this Family Activity for The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrenceyou will learn about the basic principles of stepping, the Great Migration, its significance in American history and the music from that time! For each show in the season, we'll post a new Family Activity. You can find all of our past posts right here on our blog and at Pinterest.com/NewVictory

Watch, Discuss, Connect

Step Afrika! was inspired to create The Migration: Reflection on Jacob Lawrence by both the Great Migration and Jacob Lawrence. In this activity, get a deeper understanding of that time in history and the painter whose work inspired this show. 
 
The Great Migration
The Great Migration was the movement of six million African Americans from the Southern United States to the North, Midwest and West that occurred between 1916 and 1970.
 
Watch this video on the Great Migration.


Discuss these questions:
  • What is the Harlem Renaissance and how does it connect to the Great Migration?
  • What do you think is the reason behind today's new, reverse migration?
  • What are some connections that you can make between the world after the Civil War and now?
 
Jacob Lawrence
Jacob Lawrence is an artist who tells his personal experience of the Great Migration through his art. Step Afrika! created The Migration, inspired by his artwork in The Migration Series. Click on the image below to find an interview with the painter, himself!

Jacob Lawrence in Conversation

Discuss these questions:
  • It was said that Jacob Lawrence was the griot of Harlem. What is a griot and how does the definition fit Jacob Lawrence?
  • How would you summarize his overall experience during the Great Migration through the choices he made in his art?
  • Do these paintings bring up any feelings for you? If so, discuss.

Explore the Panels
 
Part I: Check out these five panels from Jacob Lawrence's The Migration Series and read their descriptions. 

Panel 49
Panel 49: They found discrimination in the North. It was a different kind.
 
Panel 35
Panel 35: They left the South in great numbers. They arrived in the North in great numbers.
 
Panel 21
Panel 21: Families arrived at the station very early in order not to miss their train North.

Panel 47
Panel 47: As the migrant population grew, good housing became scarce. Workers were forced to live in overcrowded and dilapidated tenement houses.
 
Panel 23
Panel 23: And the Migration Spread.

Some of the Jacob Lawrence panels are purposefully jarring, "Panel 15" is an additional piece that will be seen during the performance of The Migration.

Panel 15
Panel 15: There were lynchings.

Jacob Lawrence strives to visually tell the story of what life was like in the South for African Americans, including the oppression, fear, violence and heartbreak. Some of the images he painted could evoke a range of powerful emotions and responses.
  • How do these painting make you feel?
  • Based on the images, what do you think life was like for African Americans living in the South during that time?
Watch Jacob Lawrence discuss Panel 15 in this video.

Part II: Go online and research photographs from the Great Migration that you feel correspond to Jacob Lawrence's panels. Can you find real life images that tell the story they are trying to portray? To delve further into Lawrence's work, discover more of The Migration Series here.

We paired "Panel 35" with the image below, as an example.

Panel 35
 
Migration Depot

History Told Through Song

Step One: Listen to the following songs:

1920's—"Take My Hand Precious Lord" by Thomas A. Dorsey
 
1930's—"Alabamy Home" by Duke Ellington 
 
1940's—"When It's Sleepy Time Down South" by Billie Holiday

1950's—"Lucille" by Little Richard

1960's—"Respect" by Aretha Franklin 

1970's—"Midnight Train to Georgia" by Empress Gladys & The Pips

Step Two: While listening to the songs, ask each other:
  • What is this song about?
  • What was going on in that decade? Is it connected to the song in any way?
Step Three: Think of songs that tell stories of our current events. Compile your own playlist of songs for 2017 and share it with us on Facebook!

One, Two, Step! 

Step Afrika!, the company behind The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, was founded in South Africa as a collaboration between American dancers and members of Johannesburg's Soweto Dance Theater in 1994. They've since emerged as one of the top African American dance companies in the United States. Stepping is the generic term for dance styles in which the footwork is the most important part of the dance. Watch this video to learn the basics of stepping.
 
 

 
The Migration  

 
A beat for every brushstroke! Experience the invigorating fusion of stepping and live music in The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence.
Posted by Beth Henderson

In A Sky for the Bears, Teatro Gioco Vita tells two moving stories through shadow puppetry, a unique and evocative art form with roots that go back further than you'd think. Get to know this world-class company with five quick facts!
  • Teatro Gioco Vita is nearly fifty-years-old! Founded in Piacenza, Italy, in 1971, they've performed all over the world in countries including Brazil, Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, Israel, Taiwan and Turkey. This multi-generational team of artists has a rich history of telling stories with illustration, light and puppetry. In their half-century existence, they've graced our stage once before in 1998 with their show Firebird
A Sky for the Bears
  • The director of A Sky for the Bears, Fabrizio Montecchi, has been with the company since they first started touring in 1978—when he was only 18-years-old! He started as a performer right out of high school, but soon realized that he longed to work as a director. Slowly, but surely, he became a leading figure in creating captivating shadow puppetry in Europe. He’s now the Artistic Director of shadow puppet productions at Teatro Gioco Vita!
  • The two stories from A Sky for the Bears are inspired by German stories Ein Himmel für den kleinen Bären and Das Bärenwunder from celebrated kids' lit authors Dolf Verroen and Wolf Erlbruch.
Fabrizio Montecchi Fabrizio Montecchi, Photo: Jože Suhadolnik
  • During the late 1970s in Italy, theatrical animation (or "animazione teatrale" in Italian)—the art of using theater games to help audiences connect with a sense of childlike play—began to gain prominence in the theater world. The then-young company, Teatro Gioco Vita, is credited as being one of the first to combine this engaging style of theater creation with shadow puppetry. 
  • Puppetry is an ancient art form with traditions from all over the world, but enthusiasts agree that modern European puppetry largely stems from Italy, home of marionettes and Commedia dell'arte. Shadow play or shadow puppetry—as seen in A Sky for the Bears—is traced back to India's Tholu Bommalata, a tradition from the 3rd century BCE. Though shadow play has South and East Asian origins, Italy was the gateway for its introduction to Europe.
This charming tale of discovering your hearts deepest desires runs at The New Victory Theater from October 28-November 5. Get your tickets today! 
 
Posted by Beth Henderson
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