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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 15 years, 389,000 New York City students have discovered the transformative magic of theater in their classrooms with the New Victory Teaching Artists. To celebrate the exciting anniversary of our Classroom Workshop Program, we reached out to a few teachers who have collaborated with us over the years!



The New Victory Theater has been special from the start. Not only do they provide high-quality kid's theater from around the world, but sign-interpreted performances are scheduled for every production. I do not know if any other theater provides such accessibility to their young patrons. 

That respect and care is carried over into the pre- and post-show classroom workshops, where Teaching Artists visit our classroom to deepen our students' experience and understanding of each show. For example, my class attended A Sky For The Bears this season, which explores the themes of death and acceptance through puppetry and shadows. Our in-class post-show workshop directed the students to create cardboard puppets and play with shadow and light to create their own story of what it means to "go away but remain in someone's heart." After the visit, we continued to tell stories using shadow and light by setting up a learning center. The workshop challenged both our teachers' and our students' thinking and creativity. 

Thank you to the New Vic for respecting students and collaborating with teachers!
—Gary Wellbrock, PS 347 in New York, New York
  


I'm a music teacher at a public school in the South Bronx, where all of our students are developmentally disabled, multi-handicapped, autistic and/or have emotional disabilities. The workshops provide a creative space where students can participate in exciting ways. The Teaching Artists accommodate all students, regardless of their limitations. With them, every student is a star. The creativity and wisdom of our students have wowed us—the staff—many times.

The pre-performance workshops really prepare our students for the show they will be seeing and the post-performance workshops expand upon what they've seen. It goes without saying, but everyone, including my principal, sees these workshops as crucial to our arts program.

I commend The New Victory Theater for offering these wonderful workshops that stretch the imagination. I also can't thank them enough for giving our students an opportunity to experience live performances in an atmosphere that makes them all feel comfortable. Their hard work is greatly appreciated!
—Rita Prince, P186X in The Bronx, New York
 

The Teaching Artists who prepare the students to see the performances, or follow up on the visit are always high quality. The activities are fun, well-structured and expertly delivered. I've even stolen some of their ideas for use in my own work! It always amazes me how much they are able to accomplish in a short period of time like creating musical numbers, teaching circus tricks and staging shadow puppet shows. 
—Ron Sopyla, PS 88 in Queens, New York
 

I've been a public school elementary Drama Teacher for 23 years. When the New Vic first opened, I was so happy to have a place that consistently offered real theater for my students. When the classroom workshops started, it brought our experience to an entirely different level. The Teaching Artists are always top-notch, engaging and flexible! They get my students to open up their thinking (before and often after) a performance in a way that no amount of simply discussing the piece could ever do.
—Cynthia Blackwell, PS 58 in Brooklyn, New York
 

My experience with The New Victory Theater's Classroom Workshops has been wonderful! The Teaching Artists are enthusiastic, positive, patient and they know just what it takes to work with the students. Even my quietest students are excited to participate in the engaging activities they offer! Having the classroom workshops before going to a performance has really helped my students connect more to the show itself. It makes them feel like insiders, and they appreciate the experience so much more!

At one particular pre­show workshop, I had a student tell the teaching artist that she would not be coming to see the show with her class because she had an appointment to get her cast removed for her broken arm. The teaching artist told me that if I contacted the theater, they could set her family up with tickets for one of the public performances. I did this and the family got to see the show later that week. We were all so grateful for the kindness and consideration that was shown by the Teaching Artist and by the theater!
—Joan Christou, Nest+m in New York, New York
 
 
Funkedified Thumb Interested in learning more about our Classroom Workshop Program? Find out more here!
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
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