Theater Visitation

 This Paper is based on a theater visitation to a Miami City Ballet Performance “Theme and Variations” by George Balanchine. See below the paper guidelines, questions to develop throughout the essay, and the links of the ballet.

Paper Guidelines

Papers need to be at least 700 words minimum and should follow the guidelines for all papers in the Written Assignments section of the syllabus. Your paper must be typed in a 10-12 point font, double-spaced with margins that are no more than 1 inch.
If you don’t have Microsoft Word, save your file as a .txt, .pdf, or .rtf file.  Title your document with one word. For example, I might use sarah1.doc.
Be concise; don’t clutter your paper with meaningless ‘filler’. Stay on task with the items you are asked to talk about. “Filler” will only lower your grade.
Do not copy phrases or content from the printed program from your event, or from any source you use for research. Your own ideas and reflections are the only ones of any value for these assignments. Think about what you’ve read and link it with something you saw or heard, then turn it in to your own statement.
Don’t try to write in a fancy manner. Polish up your natural writing and speaking style a bit, but keep it your own. 


Head your paper with your first and last name, the name of the performance,  the name of the theater or venue, and date you attended the performance.
Program Notes – most performances have a printed program with printed notes. Read this before the performance begins and save it for reference when you write your paper. However, do not copy phrases or content from the printed program from your event, or from any source you use for research.
I only want one or two paragraphs that summarize the plot, if there is one.

What should you write about:

Ambience – every gathering of people has a feeling tone, a mood: This is the ambience. Notice the people as they come in, find their seats, see what kinds of clothes they are wearing. Look around the theatre; notice the lighting in the room, the stage area. If you have some particular feeling about how you fit in, how you feel being a part of it you might make a comment in your paper.
Dance has many different types such as ballet, jazz, modern, tango, and the program notes should help you with some type of category description. You should at least note in your paper when the dance or dances (if it is a program of several dance numbers) were created (choreographed) and by whom.
Dance comes with music, and the source should be named. The music may be specially composed, or the choreographer may have created the dance to music that has already been published. It may be centuries old; it may be recent. The dance and the music are married, and both partners should be discussed in your paper.
How was the music delivered: Live or prerecorded? What type of music was used for each dance number? Who composed it? What did you think of the music and the way it fit with the dance? How well did the choreography EXPRESS the music?
And now the dance. Dances have a story outline, a theme, or just a bare concept. Ballets tell stories, and have a formal structure with several scenes and acts. The Tango tells stories, often about intense, dangerous love, in a formalized style. Folkloric dance belongs to the traditions of a particular culture, as do the costumes and music. You may want to do some research in the library or on the Internet for background on the composer of the music, or on the choreographer, or on the type of dance and the dance company. Some background information will illuminate your paper for you as well as for the reader and will contribute to the quality of your paper. Make sure all information is in your own words.
A dance concert may have a number of different dance pieces with different sized groups of dancers from a solo to the whole ensemble. The structure may be highly formal, such as a ballet, where each dance number is linked into one story; it may be very athletic and involve amazing physical contortions by the dancers, as in modern dance. A dance number can have many moods, or just one mood such as hope, melancholy, love, joy, sorrow, or present a sense of mystery.
What about the dancers? Dancers train their bodies to do contortionist twists, gymnastic leaps, and other extremely controlled motions. A dance program might have a number of pieces, each rather different in the way the dancers move. How well did the dancers (or a dancer) express the choreography, the story, and the concept? Be sure you understand what choreography means before you go to a dance concert.
As with the theatre, everything that exists and happens inside the theatre is part of the performance, but the dancers, the actors of the dance, make it come alive.
Suspend judgment. We know that no one lives in a world where everything is communicated in silence through body language. How does the dance touch you? When the dancers glide, does your heart soar? Be honest, though. Insincerity will show through. Look inside yourself and find how the performance components touched you.

Some more questions to think about:

Did all the elements – movement, music, costume, lighting, scenery (if any) – work together to give the intended effect? Explain.
Was there any element that did not seem as it should? Why?
Why did you choose to attend this type of production?
Describe the emotions you felt and the thoughts you experienced during the work or in retrospect.
What was the story, emotion, or theme? The title may be helpful. Read the program.
How did the costumes, scenery, and lighting contribute to the overall effect? Describe very specifically (e.g., colors and cut of costumes – did they flow and add to the movement?)
How did the choreography (kind and sequence of movements) relate to the music? Was it graceful and lowing or syncopated and “jagged”, forceful and assertive or tender and delicate? Try to be a specifically descriptive as you can.

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