A summer of puppetry & dance

I had an amazing summer of work, which has lead right into some great projects this fall. I have been so occupied with doing, I haven’t had much time to share.. so here are just a few quick highlights!

The Creation Story: Lincoln Center Education & Carmen DeLavallade

After taking part in a second summer of Lincoln Center Education’s Teaching Artist Training program this July, I had an excellent opportunity to put those new and exciting ideas directly in to practice. Working for LCE at the nearby Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center, I lead experiential workshops to introduce a group of seniors and a group of youth to the immense body of work of the late renaissance man Geoffrey Holder.

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Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Using found materials to create costumes. Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Looking one of Geoffrey Holder's pieces after making some art together. Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Looking one of Geoffrey Holder’s pieces after making some art together.
Photo: Šara Stranovsky

Then we moved on to the next phase of our work, in collaboration with the wonderful and imaginative Chris Green.  Chris designed a number of puppet images (based on the work of Holder) to be used in a performance of The Creation Story by Holder’s wife and longtime collaborator, Carmen DeLavallade. Working with Chris, Carmen, and her team, I engaged the students in finding the movement to bring each of these images to life.

Building ensemble with the cast. Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Building ensemble with the cast.
Photo: Šara Stranovsky
A bear mask I made from a sieve. Photo: Lucy Gram
A bear mask I made from a sieve.
Photo: Lucy Gram
Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Exploring the movement possibilities with the students. Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Students did research to find the best way to bring the pinwheel paper cup bird puppets to life. They determined the criteria for success, and we used that information to coach them for the final performance. Photo: Šara Stranovsky
In rehearsal! Photo: Lucy Gram
In rehearsal!
Photo: Lucy Gram
What is the nature of a rainbow? How does it move? How does it feel? Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Researching the performative nature of a rainbow: How does it move? How does it feel?
Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Glittery fish puppets. Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Taking a rest from flight. Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Taking a rest from flight. Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Photo: Lucy Gram
Carmen DeLavallade, surrounded by birds, flowers, and the sun at the Damrosch Park Amphitheatre. Photo: Lucy Gram
 Photo: Šara Stranovsky
In just one week, our ensemble did so much! Here’s a shot from the performance of The Creation Story. Photo: Šara Stranovsky
Chris and I with Carmen after the performance. Photo: Lucy Gram
Chris and I with the generous and legendary Carmen DeLavallade after the performance.
Photo: Lucy Gram
The youth perform a post show bird attack! Okay, I egged them on a little :)
The youth staging a post-show bird attack!
Okay, I egged them on a little 🙂

Hagoromo: Wendy Whelan at BAM

Right after that project, I was lucky enough to continue working with Chris as  a rehearsal puppeteer in the early stages of development of Hagoromo. The show, premiering at the BAM Next Wave Festival in November 2015, is a huge collaborative undertaking. It stars Wendy Whelan, former principal dancer at the New York City Ballet, and features musicians, puppets, a mezzo-soprano, tenor, and a large chorus. Check out the NY Times article!

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Discovering the way for three people to move as one being.
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The first steps are… literally that. We had to uncover the way to do a basic walk before we could learn to dance.

The story is adaptation of a Japanese Noh play. For this multidisciplinary opera, there are two life-size  puppets based on body casts of the incredibly talented Wendy Whelan. Our initial job was to work out the kinks.

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Both doing and watching are necessary to learn how to successfully bring a puppet to life.
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The dance of the puppeteers is a separate, but equally interesting, dance to that of the puppet itself.
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Wendy and Chris discussing the fine points of puppet capability. Many of our rehearsal discoveries lead to small tweaks in the design.
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And then we dance again!

Find out more about the Hagoromo performance and process through this excellent resource on the BAM website.

And watch a video of me with Catherine Gowl and Pepper Fajans as we puppeteer in a mirror exercise with Wendy Whelan.

It's a small puppet world! One of the other awesoem rehearsal puppeteers, Katie Melby, had previously performed with my talented sister-in-law, Katie Kaufmann, in the Twin Cities!
It’s a small puppet world! One of the other awesome rehearsal puppeteers, Katie Melby, had previously performed with my talented sister-in-law, Katie Kaufmann, in the Twin Cities!
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