Pivot Turn: Poetry in the Moment of Change

Review of Pivot Turn at Cadence: Video Poetry Festival presented by Northwest Film Forum

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Lark Keteyian and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras

Sara Kei Kamyar Mohsenin Sara Kei

Referring to people as bodies isn't a turn of phrase I find particularly comfortable. It feels impersonal, even spooky, to separate a person's essence from their physical body; it turns them into something inhuman. However, in the case of Pivot Turn, a series of films that don't always take place in the world we're used to, it feels appropriate. Pivot Turn ran the second night of Northwest Film Forum's Cadence: Video Poetry Festival, which transferred smoothly online in the wake of COVID-19. The films were collected around the theme of a volta, the moment of emotional change in a poem. "Moment of emotional change" might sound like a vague concept, but in practice it's fairly easy to recognize: it's a shift in tone, subject, or feeling. Sometimes you feel the volta as a subtle flip of your heart, sometimes, as the ground moving under your feet. The volta is part of what makes poetry so personal, strange, and effective. As an art form that often relies on dreamy association rather than a clear linear narrative, poetry has to envelop its audience emotionally in order to have an impact. The volta is one way for this to happen: it can bring an everyday object or place into a strange and unfamiliar light, causing the audience to experience the world in a new way.

In Pivot Turn, the voltas were explicitly physical. The shift in feeling was visually represented through movement: dance, animation, bodies of water, human bodies. Different creators interpreted the open concept of "video poetry" in very different ways. Some were visualizations of full poems (think music video for a poem); some focused on fluid physical movement organized in a dream-logic reminiscent of poetry, with very few words. All of the films, however, shared the theme of movement. Black Girl Poem, Daryl Paris Bright + Anatola Pabst. Image courtesy of Northwest Film Forum.

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A Portrait of A Portrait of a Lady on Fire

Review of Portrait of a Lady on Fire, the Favorite Feature at Seattle Queer Film Festival, presented by Three Dollar Bill Cinema

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Mila Borowski and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras

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During this time of quarantine, many of us have taken the opportunity to delve deep into the art of cinematography. Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a story of finding freedom and meaning within the bounds of one’s house and the neighboring, barren coastline, may be particularly compelling as we all adjust to the new confines of our lives. The first scene introduces the viewer to the intense sensory overflow in this movie as the gentle sound of charcoal traces out curves on a blank canvas and dominates one’s attention. Little by little, as with everything in this film, an art class in 18th century France is revealed, taught by Marianne, a painter played by Noémie Merlant. Marianne is provoked by a painting from her past that portrays the film’s namesake: the lady on fire. It is then that the film takes a step back in time to introduce the young woman ‘on fire’ in the portrait: Héloïse, played by Adèle Haenel. Héloïse is opposed to her upcoming arranged marriage, but must send a wedding portrait of herself to the gentleman. A younger Marianne must paint Héloïse’s portrait in secret as Héloïse refuses to pose for a painter. Marianne acts as a companion for Héloïse’s daily walks on the coastal cliffs, cliffs that serve as a haunting reminder of Héloïse’s sister’s recent suicide from similar heights. The plot thickens as the two develop feelings for each other while they explore the remaining days of Héloïse as a free woman before she is wed. Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant in Portrait of a Lady on Fire, directed by Céline Sciamma

It is a spectacular journey that relies upon every detail’s precise intention, with the use of audio particularly standing out for its vivid texture, adding to the intriguing plot to create a strikingly artful film. While I have to rely on subtitles to experience the film, the sound design speaks more than any dialogue. The loud rustling of their dresses as they walk silently emphasizes the initial unfamiliarity and unease between the two women. The loud crashing of the waves during an emotionally charged, wordless moment between Héloïse and Marianne helps the viewer experience the crashing in their chests as their hearts beat faster while they stare into each other’s eyes. The concise dialogue is also paramount in generating such emotional scenes. The first vocal exchange between the two women is during their first trip outside, after Marianne learns about the recent loss of Héloïse’s sister. Héloïse charges for the edge of the cliff, stopping abruptly at the edge before saying, “Dreamt of that for years.” Marianne then asks, “Dying?” Héloïse’s response is a simple word that conveys so much of how she feels about her life. “Running.” This motif of freedom is seen throughout the film, particularly Héloïse’s lack of it. In a particularly witty exchange, Marianne inquires as to whether or not Héloïse can swim. “I don’t know,” Héloïse replies. Marianne tells her, “It’s too dangerous if you don’t.” The symbolism of swimming grows to be a powerful metaphor for the lady living on the coast’s missing freedom. This symbol is juxtaposed with the imagery of flames; seen in fireplaces, bonfires, and a bounty of candles. The rest of the thoughtful symbology throughout the film adds thought-provoking depth to this gradual journey. The viewer is given time to digest the layered dialogue and engage fully with the world Héloïse is trapped in. Adèle Haenel and Noémie Merlant in Portrait of a Lady on Fire, directed by Céline Sciamma

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Happy International Dance Day!!!

To celebrate #InternationalDanceDay, we've compiled a list of content from the TeenTix Blog highlighting some of our amazing Arts Partners in the dance space!

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In honor of International Dance Day, here is a collection of reviews at our Arts Partners, written exclusively by teen writers. Help us celebrate young writers, dancers, choreographers, and venues alike by reading and sharing this article with your network, and thank you to all of the dancers worldwide for sharing your art with us! TeenTix Newsroom review of "Dark Matters" via On the Boards.TV

"The piece pays homage to the Frankenstein-horror sub genre through a dramatic tale of a creator and his puppet, sprinkling in sometimes out-of-place bits of humor before diving fully into themes of manipulation and connection, which can be seen throughout the entire piece, from the loose, puppet-like motion of the dancers to the music." Click here to read the full review, written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Lucia McLaren. Teen Reviews of the Hiplet Ballerinas at Edmonds Center for the Arts

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Frankie Cosmos: Timeless and Timely

Review of Frankie Cosmos concert on Instagram Live
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Sky Fiddler and edited by Teen Editor Tova Gaster

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As I sat in the same bedroom where I do my homework, hang out with my online friends, and make my own music, I watched Frankie Cosmos lead singer and guitarist, Greta Kline, perform live from her home. Watching from my desk, I felt like we were in this together—not just in quarantine but in this beautiful, confusing mess that is life. I definitely would prefer to see her perform in person, with all the sound quality, lighting, and overall atmosphere that a live venue provides, but honestly, the music lends itself well to an Instagram live video made at home, too. The magic of Frankie Cosmos is not in the production, or in the instrumentation, or even the tune, though those are often enjoyable. It’s in the genuine emotion Frankie Cosmos conveys, and the feeling that the listener is getting a glimpse into her unfiltered life.

Kline’s voice is pretty in all of her work, but it isn’t loud or perfectly blended. Every once in a while it’s drowned out by the accompaniment, despite being the centerpiece of most songs. The rest of the band, Lauren Martin (keyboardist, vocalist, and synth player), Luke Pyenson (drummer and vocalist), and Alex Bailey (keyboardist and bassist) add more character to every piece, despite rarely having surprising technical ability or effects that blow me away. But Kline doesn’t need to belt, the mixing doesn’t have to sound perfect, and the backing band doesn’t need to shred their guitars or have mind-blowing solos.

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Dark Matters: The Potential of Dance

Review of Crystal Pite's Dark Matters on OntheBoards.TV
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Lucia McLaren and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla

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In these dark times of uncertainty, people have access to a surprising amount of media. From Netflix to YouTube, sites give home viewers a wide library of constantly-updating content, distracting from the often anxiety-inducing situation at hand.

OntheBoards.TV, connected to TeenTix partner On the Boards, is one of these sites and holds a library of high-quality recorded contemporary art pieces. I recently watched one of these pieces, Dark Matters, a modern dance created by Crystal Pite, a Canadian choreographer who’s somewhat of an audience favorite on the site. The piece pays homage to the Frankenstein-horror sub genre through a dramatic tale of a creator and his puppet, sprinkling in sometimes out-of-place bits of humor before diving fully into themes of manipulation and connection, which can be seen throughout the entire piece, from the loose, puppet-like motion of the dancers to the music. Kidd Pivot in Dark Matters by Crystal Pite. Photo by Dean Buscher.

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A Confrontation with the Color Line: The Baldwin-Buckley Debate, 55 Years Later

Review of Nick Buccola's lecture: Baldwin, Buckley, and the Debate Over Race in America at Town Hall Seattle
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Alison Smith and edited by Teen Editor Olivia Sun

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When William F. Buckley and James Baldwin debated each other at Cambridge University in 1965, the auditorium was packed. It was during the height of the Selma campaign and just six months before the Voting Rights Act was passed. As Nicholas Buccola, author of The Fire Is Upon Us, described on February 27, 2020, at Town Hall Seattle, students crowded together on the floor. All were there to see Baldwin, a legendary writer and civil rights advocate, debate Buckley, one of the chief architects of modern conservatism. In his talk, Buccola traces the two men’s upbringings and intellectual journeys that led them to the debate stage to spar over the question, “Is the American Dream at the expense of the American Negro?” In the process, he exposes truths about race relations that still feel relevant 55 years after the debate.

Like any properly interesting debate, the Baldwin-Buckley one is a study in contrasts. Buccola teases apart the differences in the upbringings of these two formidable and influential intellectuals. Baldwin grew up poor in Harlem, and described his household with his eight siblings as “claustrophobic.” Buckley, on the other hand, lived in an expansive estate in Connecticut, and was treated to private tutors and lessons in everything from ballroom dancing to apologetics. The rarefied privilege of Buckley’s upbringing, and the deprivation of Baldwin’s, shaped their views on whether the “racialized hierarchy” was justified and innate, or cruel and discriminatory.

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Virtual Film Empowers Arts Communities

Review of All on a Mardi Gras Day and The Maze at Northwest Film Forum
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Maia Demar and edited by Teen Editor Tova Gaster

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“You not gonna fight ‘em, you not gonna shoot ‘em, you not gonna stab ‘em, you gonna kill ‘em with a needle and thread.”

These are the words spoken by Big Chief Demond Melancon of the Young Seminole Hunters, who stars in the short documentary All on a Mardi Gras Day. Directed and edited by Michal Pietrzyk, the 22 minute film follows Demond and his friends as they prepare costumes for the biggest day in New Orleans: Mardi Gras. Demond makes his own costumes from scratch every year, each one more elaborate and feathered than the last. The film’s perspective on African American men defies many stereotypes and assumptions. There are so many mental benefits from being creative, and the film is especially important due to the stigma surrounding men of color discussing mental health.

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Part 2: Keeping Cultured During Quarantine

Find out how some of the TeenTix Newsroom writers are staying artistically engaged while socially distant.

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This is the second installment of our “Keeping Cultured During Quarantine” series. Enjoy these recommendations from TeenTix Newsroom writers about how to fight the collective cabin fever! ALISON

I’m a big fan of Kanopy, the criminally underrated streaming service you can access for free with a library card. I recently watched The Way He Looks on the platform, a love story so good it made me giddy. It centers on Leo, a blind teenager with a passion for classical music, and his friendship-turned-romance with Gabriel, the new boy at his school who plays him Belle & Sebastian records. The gorgeous cinematography of São Paulo, the witty conversations, and the honest portrayal of disability are all reasons to watch this film. JOSH

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Saint Frances: A Heartfelt, Unfiltered Story of Womanhood

Review of Saint Frances Virtual Screening at The Grand Illusion Cinema
Written by Teen Editor Olivia Sun and edited by Press Corps Teaching Artist Kathy Fennessy

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Attention: Spoilers Ahead!

There are two types of people in the world: those who have no idea what they’re doing with their life, and those who pretend like they know what they’re doing.

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Music Through The Ether

Review of Dvořák Symphony No. 8 at Seattle Symphony
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Nour Gajial and edited by Teen Editor Olivia Sun

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Music is a language without discrimination, giving everyone an opportunity to interpret it on their own. During times of uncertainty, music can act as a binding agent between communities. As we experience quarantine in the Seattle area, Seattle Symphony continues to stream previously recorded broadcasts to bring people together during somber times like these. While I do admit that viewing a concert online does not deliver the same environment and social setting as viewing it live, I admire Seattle Symphony’s effort to share Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 8 with us.

The broadcast started with a small delay due to technical difficulties, but the rest of the show went smoothly. Five minutes into the livestream, there were over 1,500 people tuning in. I found this extremely inspiring. When I looked at the comment section, it struck me that there were people from all over the world centered around the same screen. Some were viewing the performance all the way from Tokyo and others were from the local Seattle area. Although this is not a typical concert venue, the live broadcast allowed a greater number and diversity of music enthusiasts to appreciate a performance from the comfort of their own homes. Additionally, the Seattle Symphony provided the virtual concert at no cost, making the experience more financially accessible than the live Benaroya Hall experience. After all, the various camera angles gave the online audience a 360-degree view of the performance at the grand concert hall.

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Creative Cures for Quarantine

Teen Editorial Staff April 2020 Editorial

Written by Teen Editorial Staff Members Olivia Sun and Lily Williamson!

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Even though COVID-19 has kept us inside, there are still plenty of ways to stay involved with art while practicing good social distancing. From online exhibitions to performance archives, the Seattle arts scene is still alive and well, even under quarantine.

The coronavirus outbreak not frightening enough? Give Dark Matters at OntheBoards.tv a try—a spine chilling performance combining elements of contemporary dance and theatre. Directed by choreographer Crystal Pite, this performance will take you on a wild emotional journey from the comforts of your own home.

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Keeping Cultured During Quarantine

Find out how our Teen Editorial Staff is staying artistically engaged while socially distant.

The Beatles

Just because COVID-19 cancelled many arts events, that doesn’t mean art stops! We here on the Teen Editorial Staff have been spending our quarantine keeping cultured with the plethora of great art we now have the pleasure of catching up on. From music, crafts, TV, movies, books, scrapbooks, knitting, and cosplaying, we all have our own way of taking advantage of this time. So if you’ve been sitting at home longing for the outdoors like the Disney prince/princess you are, read on for our recommendations on how to beat the collective cabin fever! OLIVIA:

I’ve been feeling extra nostalgic lately, so a lot of my time has been spent reminiscing about the good ol’ days (that is, before the plague hit). After all, I’m a senior in high school, and it won’t be long before my childhood ends, and the next chapter officially begins. So, I’ve spent a lot of my time at home reliving memories through various arts and crafts.

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Jitney: How Small Victories Against Oppression Bring Large Change

Review of August Wilson's Jitney at Seattle Rep
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Jaiden Borowski and edited by Teen Editor Anya Shukla

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Warning: Spoilers ahead!

By creating a full world of its own from simple interactions, August Wilson’s Jitney artfully depicts the everyday interactions between employees of a jitney business during the 1970s. (To provide some context, jitney businesses offered unlicensed taxis for the black community when typical services would not due to racial discrimination.) Jitney displays the everyday hustle and bustle of working-class Americans, allowing the audience to create relationships with and appreciate the details and flaws of each of its characters.

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1984: Another Big Brother

Review of 1984 at 18th & Union Review.
Written by Teen Editor Josh Fernandes and edited by Press Corps Teaching Artist Omar Willey.

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1984 is the kind of book I definitely should’ve read, but I think one of the play’s strengths is how seamlessly the material is adapted for the stage. After reading Brave New World and The Handmaid’s Tale, I sort of dismissed 1984. Both of those dystopias have a unique form of control over their citizens: Brave New World controls through pleasure in order to eliminate conflict and for the prosperity of its citizens, and The Handmaid’s Tale controls through language in order to save the declining birth rates of the white race. 1984 controls through fear simply for the sake of the Inner Party’s personal whims, which I always assumed to be sort of basic. Sure, 1984’s influence can be felt in all kinds of media, but I never thought to read the original. However, 18th & Union's adaptation certainly proves the merit of the original work, and I have no shame in saying that this is how I first experienced it.

The play is set in a dystopian future and follows Winston Smith, a “records editor” who seeks to escape and rebel against the ever looming and controlling presence of Big Brother alongside his new love Julia. The play doesn’t start here however, rather the entire show is set in an interrogation room set after Winston has already been captured. The audience is shown his story through a reenactment put on by party members based on the writings they find in Winston’s diary. Marianna de Fazio, Brad Cook, Michael Ramquist, K. Brian Neel and Lyam White; Ryan Higgins facing upstage in 18th & Union's production of 1984. Photo by Marcia Davis.

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Monster Robot Babies: Why Dance Nation is the Coolest Show Ever

Review of Dance Nation at Washington Ensemble Theatre

Written by TeenTix New Guard Member Daisy Schreiber and edited by Teen Editor Tova Gaster

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Good endings are hard to come by, and when I saw Dance Nation at Washington Ensemble Theatre for the first time, I didn’t really like the last few minutes. But the rest of it was kind of the Best Thing I’d Ever Seen, so I went back again. And again. And again. And again. By the fifth and last time I saw Dance Nation, the ending was one of my favorite parts. (My other favorite part was everything else.) There are approximately 15,000,000 different awesome things about the show, but Dance Nation, in one of its many acts of healing, offers a powerful paradigm shift–what if middle school makes us who we are? What if we aren’t a total write-off ages eleven to fourteen? What if we are ok now because of what happened to us in middle school, not just in spite of it?

Dance Nation catches its characters–members of an elite pre-teen dance team–at a delicate moment. They hover on the precipice of giving up dreams of dance stardom for other aspirations, like being a volcano scientist, or high school student, or diving deeper into the competitive dance world, knowing that they can never remake this choice. By the end of the ninety minutes, the girls have made their decisions, for the most part choosing each other over the rabid pull of being the best, and they are powerful. It is clear that their dance team friends will always be a part of their lives, and that, regardless of the future careers, dance is a force that connects them to each other as they take on the rest of their lives. Dance Nation at Washington Ensemble Theatre. Photo by Jeff Carpenter.

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Yardbird Sings A New Tune

Review of Charlie Parker's Yardbird at Seattle Opera.
Written by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras and edited by Press Corps Teaching Artist Ts Flock.

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A flash of light, a sign reading “Birdland” descending and spanning the length of the stage, directly beneath, a lone man staring at his own corpse. These elements serve to transform 7:30 pm on a Wednesday to a midnight in the mid-1950s at Seattle Opera’s latest production, Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, inspired by the life (and afterlife) of jazz icon Charlie Parker. The opera begins at the moment of Parker’s death from a heroin overdose...in the bed of his socialite lover at a segregated hotel. As a spirit, he suddenly finds himself back at Birdland bar, where he had been banned years before for drunken conduct, despite the bar being named after him.

The libretto, written by Bridgette A. Wimberly, follows Parker as he reconciles with his life, and attempts to write a classical symphony as a ghost. Yardbird is the next step in a long line of biographical productions attempting to revive legendary figures, following The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs, performed last year at the Seattle Opera. Frederick Ballentine (Charlie Parker) & Angela Brown (Addie Parker) in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird at Seattle Opera. Photo by Sunny Martini.

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The Devil Strikes at Noir City Festival

Review of The Devil Strikes at Night at SIFF
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Amy Harris and edited by Teen Editor Tova Gaster

The Devil Strikes At Night Rose Schafer and Mario Adorf

Thursday, February 20 marked the culmination of the traveling Noir City Festival in Seattle. Hosted by the “Czar of Noir,” Eddie Muller, the penultimate film was the 1957 German feature, The Devil Strikes at Night.

When doors opened at 5:15 p.m., benefactors flocked to the donor reception, awash with wine, while others saved seats in the theater. Onstage, the Dmitri Matheny trio opened, floating through a half-hour of both the exotic and familiar. While technically adept, the music pertained less to the film or noir mood and more to the superficial Egyptian-themed trimmings of the venue.

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Here We Go Again: Mamma Mia! is Simply Fun

Review of Mamma Mia! at Kirkland Performance Center
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Huma Ali and edited by Teen Editor Josh Fernandes

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Studio East and Kirkland Performance Center’s production of Catherine Johnson’s Mamma Mia! follows 20-year-old Sophie Sheridan (Rachel Kuenzi) as she unfolds a secret plan to find her father—or rather fathers, as she has narrowed the search to 3 potential candidates. Her ultimate goal: to have him walk her down the aisle at her wedding, which is merely days away. An island off Greece, a stuccoed hotel, unrequited love haunting the young and the old—it’s not a shock when things don’t go exactly as planned. But, it’s largely amusing to watch, even as a relative outsider to the franchise.

The stage opens to a fair, blonde Sophie standing next to a yellow mailbox, letters in hand. Recipients: Sam (Samuel Jarius Pettit), Bill (Hakan Olsson), and Harry (Ryan Lile). Sam Carmicheal is an architect and divorcee. Bill Anderson is an adventure-seeking writer. Harry Bright is an English banker. All under the impression of being invited by Sophie’s mother Donna (Shoshauna Mohlman), the three men fly to the island.

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Recap: Dance Journalism Workshop at Hiplet

Teen Reviews of the Hiplet Ballerinas at Edmonds Center for the Arts

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The TeenTix Press Corps partnered with Edmonds Center for the Arts to host a Dance Journalism workshop around the performance of the Hiplet Ballerinas, February 20, 2020. Taught by multimedia journalist and dance artist, Imana Gunawan, the workshop covered the basics of dance criticism and how to approach writing a dance review. In our initial lesson we learned some context for the performance by discussing the roots of both hip hop and ballet as art forms. Before the performance, teens also attended the pre-show talk curated by Dani Tirrell (movement artist centering dance around the African Diaspora) featuring Erricka Turner (Ballet and Graham Techniques) and Fides Anna Banana Freeze Mabanta (B-Girl and Hip-Hop), along with Hiplet company representatives. The discussion further framed the performance by asking questions like: How do race and class play into both of these dance techniques? Does Hip-Hop need Ballet to make it more legitimate to white audiences; and does Ballet need Hip-Hop to make it feel relevant to Black and Brown audiences?

After attending the show, participants met for a final meeting to discuss and reflect on the performance. Teens worked on their writing, did some peer editing, and also reflected on how to confront bias while reviewing dance. Below are the reflections on the Hiplet performance written by some of the workshop participants.

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Our Country’s Long

Review of Our Country's Good at Strawberry Theatre Workshop
Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Anna Martin and edited by Teen Editor Kendall Kieras

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People are people if you treat them as such. This strong and simple message takes almost three hours to deliver in Strawberry Theatre Workshop’s Our Country’s Good.

The setting is mid-eighteenth century Australia, as the first colony of criminals is arriving. The show focuses on a group of convicts as they join with the officers to put on a play for the inmates.

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