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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.
July 30, 2015

Doing Our Victory Dance


By Mary Rose Lloyd, Director of Artistic Programming, and Olga Putilina, Artistic Programming Associate

Two young girls enjoying Victory DanceBringing high-quality artists to The New Victory Theater, as you might imagine, is a layered and varied process of seeking out interesting, viable companies who we know will spark the imaginations of our young audiences. Our search culminates in the performers hitting the stage, followed immediately by the palpable joy of kids connecting with live performing arts. This week we’re doing a triumphant jig of our own to celebrate the success of our second season of Victory Dance, a curated series of local dance that unfolds over three weeks in July. We wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the things about this year’s Victory Dance that inspire us to keep shimmying—and to start planning Victory Dance 2016!

Celebrating Local Dance in New York City

Over the past three weeks, we’ve introduced nine NYC-based dance companies to approximately 4,000 New York City kids, offering summer schools and day camps free daytime performances and access to world-class dance talent. Audience members got to experience the diversity of exceptional dance that thrives in their very own hometown, a diversity equal to that of the City itself. And for many of the young people who came to the theater (a number of whom danced their way out after each show), Victory Dance was their first exposure to live dance.

Nine Companies, Many Stories

In case you missed it, the nine companies that comprised this year’s Victory Dance series each presented unique viewpoints, transforming phrases of movement, visual compositions and interpretations of the world into bold, memorable dance. In programming each week of Victory Dance, we aimed to honor each company’s individuality while weaving a cohesive thread through the three groups in each week’s program.

In Program A, Darrah Carr Dance, ZviDance and Urban Bush Women homed in on history, folklore and tradition. Darrah Carr Dance’s traditional Irish step program led seamlessly, with intricate leg and footwork, into an excerpt from ZviDance’s Dabke, a contemporary take on traditional Middle Eastern line dancing. The Urban Bush Women 30th Anniversary Mash-Up connected history to the present day through a powerful compilation of strong, stylized movement and spoken word, referencing themes of struggle, resistance and joy through the visage of underserved and often overlooked communities.

Victory Dance A Talk-Back

The second week of Victory Dance, Program B, unfolded with the expressive dance and rapturous, ecstatic movement of the inimitable Martha Graham Dance Company, the fiery Noche Flamenca and the deeply resonant Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion. Martha Graham Dance Company’s Appalachian Spring Suite (excerpt) revisited 19th century American pioneers, presenting a couple celebrating their wedding day, while Spectre-1914 (excerpt from Chronicle), choreographed in 1936, evoked the chill of war. Noche Flamenca’s traditional flamenco costumes echoed the sensational dress worn in Spectre-1914 and foreshadowed the remarkable gown yet to come in Program C's The Calling, while their passion and emotion reverberated with contraction and release, the modern dance elements made famous by Martha Graham. Excerpts from Kyle Abraham’s The Gettin’ featured dancers in ‘50s-inspired costumes (more beautiful skirts!), while projections transported audience members to apartheid-era South Africa, ending with depictions of hope set to music from We Insist! Max Roach’s Freedom Now Suite.

Victory Dance B Talk-Back

Last but certainly not least, Program C featured Jessica Lang Dance, Max Pollak/RumbaTap, and Parsons Dance, all of whom presented unexpected and emotionally resonant pieces which playfully mixed forms, often with humorous, genre-defying results. Jessica Lang’s pieces explored the interaction between visual art and movement, and how each references the other. The spectacular dress seen in Jessica Lang Dance’s The Calling became inseparable from its choreography, while for the company’s other two pieces, Lang teamed up with Shinichi Maruyama, whose visual artistry became part of the architecture for the dance-on-film White and the excerpt from i.n.k.. Max Pollak’s pieces mixed body percussion, tap and a cappella vocals into a mesmerizing exploration of rhythm, improv, and audience participation. Ingenious lighting design and a well-developed sense of humor were central to the three pieces performed by Parsons Dance, turning The Envelope, Hand Dance, and Caught into theatrical magic. So much so, in fact, that asking the Caught dancer “How did you do it?!” became a recurring question during Talk-Backs after each performance.

Victory Dance C Talk-Back

Inspiring Talk-Backs

Speaking of Talk-Backs, all education and public performances of Victory Dance saw the choreographers and some of the dancers return to the stage after the final curtain. Audience members had the opportunity to pose any burning questions they might have had for the companies. The dancers offered insight into how they became dancers, their processes and practice regimens, their professional goals and personal inspirations; and the choreographers generously shared the ideas behind their creations, each as varied as the companies themselves.

Darrah Carr revealed that Dingle Diwali was inspired by the vocal rhythms of British-Indian singer Sheila Chandra, and the challenge of combining Irish dance with her Kathak vocalizations. Kyle Abraham spoke about how a 2012 trip to South Africa sparked the idea for creating The Gettin’. Martín Santangelo, the choreographer for Noche Flamenca, came across poems written by child refugees, which he translated and then adapted into flamenco songs to create the basis for Cambio de Tercio.

For Jessica Lang, the impossibly beautiful, strange dress in The Calling appeared to her in a vision, which she used as a springboard for creating those ingenious movements. David Parsons said, “I really enjoy light. Light is one of the most fabulous things in the universe... I’m constantly trying to do things with that imagery of light.” If you were fortunate enough to see Caught, you know exactly what he means.

Boy with microphone asks question during Talk-BackOne question was asked again and again. “How old were you when you started dancing?” The answers varied but, in many cases, they were the exact same age as the young people they were addressing—a coincidence that wasn’t lost on those asking the question. At each and every education performance, as the Talk-Back ended and the curtain came down one last time, the auditorium would erupt in a hurricane of waving hands and shouts of, “No! Don’t go!” There were so many more questions, so much that our young audience members still wanted to learn from the artists who had captivated them. For these inspired kids, if only one of them becomes a professional dancer, choreographer, designer or technician, wouldn’t that be a lovely result of this new series at The New Victory? We think so.
 
 
Mary Rose Lloyd   Mary Rose Lloyd is the Director of Artistic Programming at The New Victory Theater, curating each New Victory season as well as the Victory Dance summer series, and overseeing LabWorks, the New Victory's new work development program. A staff member since 1996, Mary spends much of her time traveling to see hundreds of shows each year and to attend conferences and festivals as a frequent speaker, panelist or juror. She has served on the Boards of Directors for both TYA/USA and International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) and is the recipient of IPAY's Mickey Miners Lifetime Achievement Award. She is passionate about books, family, friends and, most certainly, the performing arts.
   
Olga Putilina   Olga Putilina is the Artistic Programming Associate at The New Victory Theater, where she gets to live in the future by helping to plan the New Victory Season and upcoming seasons of Victory Dance. Olga holds an MSEd in Educational Theater from City College. She also once held a three-toed sloth, but that's entirely different.
Posted by Zack Ramadan

It's summertime, and here at The New Victory we're busy getting ready for our upcoming season. All summer long, we're offering fun Summer Field Guides for you to celebrate being a kid in New York. Get inspired by the activities below and start getting in the mood for the shows to come!

In this double issue, we celebrate Ratcatcher's Day on July 22nd and Vanilla Ice Cream Day on July 23rd.


July 22nd - Ratcatcher's Day

Like it or not, New York City has its fair share of rats. The famous Pied Piper was fabled to lead all the rats of Hamelin away from town with his irresistible fluting—a tactic that probably won't work in the five boroughs. Here are some activities that celebrate Ratcatcher's Day, in honor of Carlo Colla & Sons Marionette Company, who are bringing their performance of THE PIED PIPER to The New Victory next May.

Make a Rat Marionette

It's best to steer clear of real rats, so here are some instructions for making your own rat marionette. First, print out the rat design below, or design your own similar rat in the same number of pieces (head, body, legs, tail).

Rat marionette cut-out

Download a PDF
of this rat marionette design for printing. Page 2 shows an assembled version!

Cut out the pieces and attach them to one another with brads like so:
 
Materials: cut-out rat, brads, string, scissors Stabbing a brad through the cut out layers Opening brad on back side of paper Rat pieces all attached with four brads

Tape or tie string to the parts of the marionette that you want to manipulate. We recommend the head and the base of the tail:
 
Cutting two lengths of string, one for the head, another for the base of the tail Taping string to reverse side of rat layers  

Make an "airplane" control for your marionette out of popsicle sticks, pens or unsharpened pencils, using tape or glue to secure the bars together. Then tie your strings to each end:
 
Taping two bars of 'airplane' marionette control to one another in a T-shape Taping marionette strings to each end of the control Fully taped control Finished marionette

Rat in a comfy chair reading a rat biographyYou're done! Take your rat for a walk, but don’t frighten too many people.

Rat Biography

We often think of rats as being part of a crowd, but every rat is an individual! Now that you’ve made your own rat, start thinking about the following questions. Then share your rat’s biography with us on Facebook!
  • What's your rat's name?
  • Where does your rat live?
  • What did your rat get for its birthday?
  • What's your rat's favorite flavor of ice cream?
  • How does your rat like to spend summer vacation?
  • Which subway line does your rat like best? Why?
  • What do your rat's parents do for a living?
  • Who are your rat's heroes?

The Rodent Family

Rats have many rodent cousins, including mice, squirrels, hamsters, beavers and porcupines! Do you have cousins? Draw a portrait of your extended family in the family room frame below, and see how many distant relations you can think of.
 
Draw your own family portrait
Download a PDF
of this family room frame to print at home for portraiture.
 
THE PIED PIPER Icon   We can't wait for Carlo Colla & Sons to return to the New Vic next spring with THE PIED PIPER. Mark your calendars, and bring along your marionette to join in the puppeteering fun.
 


July 23rd – Vanilla Ice Cream Day

In November, Catherine Wheels Theatre Company returns to The New Victory with WHITE, which was last here in 2011. What better opportunity to prepare ourselves for the many shades and textures of WHITE than by celebrating Vanilla Ice Cream Day? It is summertime, after all.

Vanilla Variation

Vanilla ice cream has a bland reputation, but it’s not so boring as you might think! There’s black-speckled vanilla bean ice cream, custardy french vanilla, and even tangy vanilla frozen yogurt. Here’s a map of some of New York’s newest ice cream parlors. And here’s an article detailing some of New York’s more established confectionary greats citywide, from Forest Hills to Staten Island. 
 

Do you have a local favorite? Add it to our map!
 
French vanilla ice cream sundae Vanilla bean waffle cone New Vicberry vanilla frozen yogurt

The Ice Cream Makers

You don't need a fancy ice cream making machine to make your own delicious summer treats at home. You can make ice cream with things you already have in the kitchen! Just follow these easy steps—stirring is key:
  1. Find a recipe! There are lots out there. Here’s a good one with optional vanilla bean involved, and here’s a non-dairy vegan one.
  2. Freeze a pan or shallow bowl—you’ll need it later.
  3. Combine your ingredients in a large bowl according to the recipe.
  4. Chill the mixture in the refrigerator, or in an ice bath for a faster result (TIP: Fill your sink with ice water).
  5. Pour your chilled mixture into your pre-cooled pan, and return it to the freezer.
  6. Check it every 30 minutes. As the edges freeze, stir the mixture vigorously with a whisk, spatula or fork.
  7. Repeat this twice-hourly stirring action four or five times. Soften the mixture briefly in the refrigerator if it become too hard to stir.
  8. Once it’s creamy and consistent, you’re done! Cover it and return it to the freezer.
  9. Eat, eat, eat!
Ice cream mixture in a bowl Whisk or spatula for stirring Eating the finished ice cream

Egg Buddies

In anticipation of WHITE, Andy Manley of Catherine Wheels Theatre Company was joined by his co-star, Egg, in this video:
 
Egg decoration with glue, markers, hats and bow ties

As you can see, Egg is a bit shy. Let’s make him some little egg friends to cheer him up! Grab an egg and some markers, and start decorating (TIP: Hard-boiling your egg first will make it more durable). 

When your egg is ready, you can enjoy some vanilla ice cream together! Take a selfie with your egg and an ample serving of vanilla ice cream, and share it with us on Instagram @NewVictoryTheater or Twitter @NewVictory. We’ll be sure to pass it along to Andy and Egg.
 
WHITE Icon   Then, when summertime has ended and November’s chill is in the air, come along to the New Vic to experience the magical world of WHITE. It will be too cold for ice cream, but Egg will see you there.
Posted by Zack Ramadan
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