Stories in tune – The Firebird, part 2

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In my previous post I discussed the books M, J and I have been reading about various incarnations of the Firebird, as a way in to listening (and dancing) to Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird. In between and after readings we enjoyed several clips of the ballet or the music on YouTube including these:

Firebird: Nina Ananiashvili
Prince Ivan: Andris Liepa
Princess: Ekaterina Liepa
Kashchey: Sergey Petukhov
Ballet masters: Alexander Prokofiev, Nikolay Androsov

Margot Fonteyn as the firebird

The Firebird suite on Fantasia 2000

As I’ve said previously, having some visuals to watch has helped enormously with enabling M and J to sit and listen to the music.

Sitting still, though, isn’t really in the nature of my girls. What they were born to do is wriggle, jump, fly, swirl and move around as much as possible, all over the place and especially if there is music on. So the next thing we did was create some firebird costumes together in order that they could pretend to be Margot Fonteyn.

Using the same technique as for our Halibut Jackson outfits, we first made our skirts. What I like about this technique is that it involves no sewing and so M could really play a part in making her own costume. We used net in various different fiery colours, and the only thing I’d do differently if this costume was going to be worn for a long time is create a little petticoat to go underneath as both the girls found the net quite scratchy after a while.

I made wings for the girls out of a length of gauzy material (a little longer than from finger tip to finger tip in each case). I folded the material in half and tied a long length of ribbon round it. This scrunched the material together, and then the remaining length of ribbon was used to tie over the girls shoulders and around their chests. At each end of the gauze I attached an elastic band which the girls slipped over their wrists. For a proper tutorial take a look at this one from This Mama Makes Stuff.

Lots of leaping and rolling around then ensued…

I’ve not yet taken either of the girls to see a ballet live. Have you taken your kids to see any dance? What age were they and did you do anything in particular to prepare them for the performance?

9 Responses

  1. Alli

    I take my kids to the ballet every chance I can. My son’s very first best friend was in her dance studio’s rendition of the Nutcracker and after seeing his beloved Sierra, he doesn’t mind going to the ballet and trying to pick out the story. I try to stick to story ballets, ones that I can read to them beforehand or listen on CD in the car. That way they can pick out the story in the movements. Of course My daughter is most interested in acting out the ballet herself so we usually choose relatively cheap or free showings and sit up high where if they make any noise it won’t bother others too terribly much. I LOVE that my kids are interested in dance and smile everytime they tell me their perceived story of what was going on.

    • Zoe

      Hi Alli,
      Thank you so much for commenting! I’m always especially happy when someone comments for the first time ๐Ÿ™‚ Are there any ballet retellings that you and your son think are particularly good (either the versions of the story or the illustrations?)

  2. Choxbox

    The girls, the costumes, the pix – all gorgeous!

    Will do a post in response to your question!

  3. Paula (Belgium)

    Ballet and dressing up has been my daughter’s favourite play for years! Ballet enchants all of us, it is just that kids have time and space and an absent of inhibition (and dressing cloths) to act out their enchantment.
    Lovely post.

    • Zoe

      You’re so right Paula! I have very happy memories of making our own Coppelia ballet with friends after school when I was about 9 – we all loved wearing flowy dresses and giving ourselves over to the music!

  4. Janelle

    Wow…the outfits are fantastic and so colorful. I’ve taken my daughter to a few musicals. Musicals often have dance sequences and she seems to enjoy the action, but I’ve never taken her to see just dancers. She also enjoyed watching the dance routines in our local community talent show. I’m hoping to take her to see the Nutcracker ballet this winter.

  5. Zoe @ Playing by the book

    Thanks Steph and Janelle for your comments about the costumes. I think the photos turned out really well I have to say – it helps that the red costumes were against the green of our garden I think.

    There are several picture book telling the story of the Nutcracker, indeed I’m hoping to do a roundup of them sometime as another instalment in Stories in Tune. Watch this space as they say!

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