What is the best way to tell a story? Pt 2

So far we have covered the pros and cons of Columns and Tapestries.
Not straying too far from these ancient techniques of storytelling, I shall be focusing on the next topic:

DANCE AND THEATRE

Hula
Traditional Hula dancers dance to Hawaiian chants and songs rather than to an actual beat, this gives the dances meaning and essentially a storyline that wouldn’t be as prevalent if these words were taken away. Most of the stories are of ancient mythology, gods and tales of creation and wonder.

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Chinese Shadow Puppetry
This interesting art of shadow puppetry is often seen at traditional Chinese festivals and weddings and consists of manipulating cutouts of characters in front of a light to use their shadow as the characters instead of the cutouts themselves. This method of storytelling can cover anything from confronting issues to moral teachings and of course, mythical tales too. For smaller shows the puppeteer often sings or talks, telling the tale as he/she goes, though for more fancy events the puppeteer is usually accompanied by musicians.

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Cunto
Drawn from Greek Theatre, this ancient way of storytelling alternates between singing and speaking, performed on a platform. Each story usually includes a single (or no) prop and a marionette, often consisting of virtuous battles and tales of daily Sicilian life alike.

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Rakugo
Rakugo is a traditional Japanese comedy of sorts, told by one storyteller alone who takes tales of modern day situations of everyday life, and uses history as a way of enforcing a moral lesson in an amusing way.

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Griot
Griots are the traditional keepers of cultural history in West Africa. These storytellers often accompany their words with instruments too, alongside their duties to preserve family histories.

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Bharatanatyam
Bharatanatyam originated in Tamil Nadu, South India many thousands of years ago. Devadasis (Indian Temple dancers) are the ones who perform this sacred dance as it is considered a prayer to the gods, Bharatanatyam consists of stories based around these gods and deities and is different depending on the gods that are being worshipped and the temple in which this dance of worship and storytelling takes place.

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Modern Theatre:

When I say modern theatre, I’m talking about the type found in New York, London… everywhere across Europe and some other parts of the world of course. Theatres are home to many different types of performances, a few I shall be focusing on specifically: Ballet, Opera and musicals as these are very story – orientated.

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Ballet
Ballet dancing originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries, later spreading to France before the rest of the world. It is a formalised version of dance, focused mainly on poise and elegance of both the male and female dancers. Ofen Ballet can be just a theatricle dance, but the majority of the time it portrays a story, a couple you may have heard of being The Nutcracker and Swan Lake (more recently adapted as Black Swan in the movie).

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Musicals
Flashy, amazing and very over the top (in all the best ways) musicals such as Wicked, Lion King and We Will Rock You have taken modern theatres by storm. Having seen Queen’s We Will Rock You in person, the feeling you get from seeing such a flashy performance is overwhelming, their songs incorporating the audience making you feel part of the performance itself. Some may think the story itself can sometimes seemed swamped amongst all the singing and dancing, though having experienced the pantomime every christmas and a few West End performances, I think as a generalisation the story is key to the supporting music, props and dancing.

 

Opera
Focused mainly around period themes, beautiful vocals and orchestral music, Opera tells a story almost entirely through singing instead of speaking, often accompanied by props and background dancers (mainly ballet) since the early 1500’s. One of the most famous operas in modern times is the Phantom of the Opera movie.

 

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