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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 7, 2015

5, 6, 7, 8 and Teach!


Victory Dance starts this week! Along with the action onstage, there is also an underlying educational component to Victory Dance—4,000 kids from 37 schools, summer camps and youth programs are attending Victory Dance in the coming weeks, and our New Victory Teaching Artists will be helping to give these kids their fill of dance before, during and after the performances. Here’s dancer and Teaching Artist Penelope McCourty to tell you more!
 
Illustration of children dancing, in the style of Matisse's "Dance."
What is Victory Dance, and what is your role?

Victory Dance is a fantastic, curated dance season at The New Victory, currently in its second year. The cool thing about Victory Dance is that it’s filled with some of the most exciting dance companies, dancers and choreographers who call New York City their home!

I was on the curriculum team developing our pre- and post-show workshops, which I’m also bringing into the summer schools, camps and youth programs all over the city with my Teaching Artist colleagues. In addition, I’m co-hosting the Education performances of Victory Dance, and I’m facilitating the Talk-Backs at the public shows.

How do New Victory Teaching Artists teach dance?

We create lesson plans that give young movers the opportunity to explore what they already know about moving their bodies through space and time, and we direct these explorations through the lens of the dances they will see on stage. So, if students are going to see Victory Dance, in our workshops they’ll explore ways of traveling up, down and all around. They’ll also create choreography based on words that were an inspiration from one of the dance pieces in the program.

Illustration of a young ballerinaWhen teaching during the school year, we know that we are getting students before a math test or right after lunch, in the middle of their schedules. Their days are filled with so many goals they have to reach. So when we Teaching Artists go into a classroom, we offer the kids an opportunity to see their day differently, to learn something in a new way and make connections to the many other things going on in their lives. We are basically a one-two punch of exploration and fun!

In the summertime, during Victory Dance, the focus shifts to learning in a more exploratory, process-based way. Their schedules are little looser, so there’s more room for what we’re doing—more room for them to really explore what it means to be a dancer or choreographer, or a performer of any kind, and more room for reflecting on how learning the skills of an artist can help them achieve their many goals during the school year.

What can kids gain from learning about dance?

So many skills for being a citizen in this world are taught through dance: academic skills, cognitive skills and social skills! In dance, whether you're in a group or working alone, you learn how to organize your body in space and time, which basically means that you gain a clearer sense of spacial awareness. You learn to develop creative ways of solving problems. You learn about commitment, and you develop skills for persevering in the face of a challenge. Working collaboratively, budgeting time… the list is endless! The development of all these skills creates a climate for confidence to soar.

What makes Victory Dance special?

As a young dancer, it was very meaningful for me to see live performance. It clued me in to what I could potentially achieve if I worked hard enough. Victory Dance gives students who may not get any other opportunity to see live dance for free! It’s a chance for them to see fantastic artistry in practice in their own hometown. There is such diversity in the art form, and the companies performing on the New Victory stage really reflect that. 

Each Victory Dance Program has fun and inquisitive mini-workshop interludes between dance pieces to get students thinking about what they are seeing on stage. These breaks give them an opportunity to, in small ways, physically investigate some of the movement motifs that are present in some of the pieces.
Penelope McCourty illustrated in the style of Degas's "The Star."
Victory Dance performances also feature Talk-Backs with the choreographers and company members after each performance. These question and answer sessions are a great way for students to hear what a choreographer’s process is like, why they make dance and what inspires their work. I love Talk-Backs most of all, because I get to see real “Aha!” moments happening, not only for the kids in the audience, but for the choreographers as well.

Why do you dance?

I am lucky enough to have a family who dances at the drop of a hat, so to express myself with movement is second nature to me. I started studying dance in high school and I really connected to the rigor of technique. I still remember the sense of success I felt the first time I landed a triple pirouette, along with the feeling of striving to perfect a barrel turn—I’m still so-so with them. I’ve enjoyed being able to track my growth through many performances, whether formal or in the studio. Spending time trying to figure out a new move or quality of movement is a total geek-out for me. But I think the biggest reason I dance is the absolute joy I feel while dancing, and seeing that same joy reflected in the faces of my fellow dancers.
 

We’ve been looking forward to Victory Dance all year, and we hope you can join us at one of the public performances for just $10 a ticket! Each evening features a unique program of three different companies. See them all for a full summer of dance!

Program A on July 9th includes Darrah Carr Dance, Zvi Dance and Urban Bush Women.
Program B on July 16th includes Martha Graham Dance Company, Noche Flamenca and Kyle Abraham / Abraham.In.Motion.
Program C on July 23rd includes Jessica Lang Dance, Max Pollak / RumbaTap and Parsons Dance.

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 issue, we celebrate Teddy Bear Picnic Day on July 10th.

Three stuffed animals: a teddy bear, a velveteen rabbit, and a silly unicorn
July 10th – Teddy Bear Picnic Day

In Margery Williams' The Velveteen Rabbit, a little boy's stuffed animal longs to become real.  Do you believe in make-believe? Now's the time to start! July 10th is Teddy Bear Picnic Day, which makes this the perfect weekend to take your favorite stuffed animal on an outdoor lunchtime adventure.

Design an invitation

Blank picnic invitation with a space to draw the inviteeIf you want your stuffed animals to come along, you have to invite them! All the best picnics have thoughtful invitations. Here's an example that you can embellish and fill in, or you can design your own! Stuffed animals especially like it when you draw pictures of them.

Click here to download a larger, printable version of this invitation.

Pick your spot

Here are some of our favorite picnic spots in New York. Where's yours? Mark it on the map! Can't see the map? Try this. Or check out this list from Time Out New York.


Blank picnic menu with fill-in-the-blanks for various meal coursesPlan a menu

What are you going to eat on this picnic? What does your favorite stuffed animal like to eat? Carrots? Honeycomb? Maybe some animal crackers could join in the fun!

Click here to print out a larger, printable version of this menu.

Share your picnic with us

Let your picnic be the envy of all! Snap a photo with your stuffed animal and share it with us on Instagram @NewVictoryTheater, or on Twitter @NewVictory. #TeddyBearPicnic


Mark your calendars! In January 2016, London's Unicorn Theatre presents its charming adaptation of THE VELVETEEN RABBIT at the New Vic. Don't miss it!
 
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!

Puck silhouetted against the MoonIn this issue, we celebrate Pandemonium Day on July 14th.


July 14th – Pandemonium Day

Who is Puck? Why, he's the knavish sprite and friend of fairies who makes mischief in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. July 14th is a holiday after Puck's own heart: Pandemonium Day! Here are some cheeky games to amuse you and befuddle those you love.


Silly Love Poem Mad Lib

Puck's silhouette peeking out from behind a treeIn A Midsummer Night's Dream, Puck plays tricks on people in love. Foil Cupid as Puck might—fill out this silly Mad Lib love poem and recite it to your dearest of dears.

(1) Your favorite food
(2) Adjective used to describe your favorite food
(3) Adverb, ending in -ly
(4) Your favorite animal
(5) Action verb, ending in -ing
(6) Your favorite song title
(7) Your favorite vacation spot
(8) Superlative adjective, ending in -est
(9) A building material
(10) Superlative adjective, ending in -est
(11) A dessert, different from (1)

Click to show the Mad Lib.

 
Peculiar Pairings
Odd combination of clothes
Surprise your family with a strange snack. Draw a line between the foods you think would make the most intriguing combination, and then convince others of your culinary genius. Pickles and popcorn? Delicious!
 
Jellybeans Pears
Toast Popcorn
Pickles Cream cheese
Bananas Peanut butter
Cereal Craisins

Once you’ve proven your epicurean expertise, try promoting your pairing to passersby! Lemonade stands are so passé.


Wacky Wardrobe

When you get dressed in the morning, mix and un-match! Wear stripes with polka dots, plaids with prints and unmatched socks, or shake up the seasons with mittens and a bathing suit. This is New York—avant-garde is always en vogue!

Once you're dressed to impress, get out there and turn some heads. And be sure to share your eccentric ensemble with us on Instagram @NewVictoryTheater, or on Twitter @NewVictory. #Pandemonium


Save the date! Later this year, in October and November, Cape Town's Isango Ensemble presents its South Africa-inspired rendition of Benjamin Britten's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at the New Vic. Join us!
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 issue, we celebrate Moon Day on July 20th.

July 20th – Moon Day

It can be tricky to see the stars in the nighttime New York sky, but even the glow of our vibrant city can't blot out the Moon. We celebrate Moon Day in honor of the crew of Apollo 11, who were the first astronauts to set foot on Earth's nearest neighbor, 46 years ago, on July 20, 1969. Astronauts are some of the bravest explorers the world has ever known, but every one of them started out as a curious kid, staring at the sky like the rest of us, making wishes on the brightest stars and tracing constellations with inquisitive fingers. Let's turn our gazes upward and join them, shall we?

Design a Constellation

If you stargaze on a clear night, you might recognize some famous constellations: The Big Dipper, Orion, Leo. The identities of these shapes in the sky have been passed down for centuries. Let's find some new ones!

What shapes do you see in the starfield below? Perhaps the hard-to-spot Banana Minor, or the elusive Crabman…

Click to download a printable version of the starfield and connect the dots—er... stars!

Make a Star and Share It

In Théâtre de l'Œil's THE STAR KEEPER, coming to The New Victory next April, a star falls from the sky, and it's up to a chivalrous worm named Pretzel to return it to its rightful place in the firmament for all to enjoy. 

Follow the instructions below to make your own star out of paper. Decorate it however you like. Then, place it somewhere outside so your NYC neighbors can make a wish when they spot it!
 

As you explore the city this summer, keep an eye out for stars like yours. And if one should fall at your feet, return it to a high place for your fellow stargazers to observe.
 


Explore the Cosmos 

Did you know you can see the stars even when the sun is out? Just visit a planetarium! The New York metro area has several great planetariums and science museums where you can learn more about astronomy.

Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History, Upper West Side – www.amnh.org
New York Hall of Science, Corona, Queens – www.nysci.org
Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City – www.cradleofaviation.org
Hudson River Museum, Yonkers – www.hrm.org
Liberty Science Center, Jersey City – www.lsc.org
Newark Museum, Newark – www.newarkmuseum.org



Share your Findings

Share your constellations and star designs with us on Instagram @newvictorytheater or on Twitter @newvictory, or take to Facebook and tell us what you learned from a recent museum or planetarium visit. Pretzel would be proud!
 
  Speaking of Pretzel, that cute little guy returns to The New Victory next April, when Théâtre de l'Œil brings THE STAR KEEPER back to New York. They were last here in 1999—let's welcome them back!
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
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