The Firebird

Seen on June 30, 2016 @ National Arts Festival, Grahamstown

Not often do you find yourself in a story of mythical proportions, enthralled in a visual spectacle of amazing dance, phenomenal puppetry and magical animation that are cast before the eye of the beholder. An audience that is thrilled by a performance of outstanding beauty, but left with little clues about the story itself.

The Firebird re-imagines the classical ballet score that launched Igor Stravinksy as a composer. The music is demanding, bombastic  powerful and imagines old stories and infernal dance it encompasses. The projection screen looks like an eyeball that sees what happens inside the characters: entrancing animation of falling feathers, hearts on fire, shacks burning, tender love and the growth in strength of the mythical firebird.

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This journey towards finding free and powerful expression is evoked by modern South African choreography by Jay Pather where dancers and puppets fly harmoniously. With every new scene, the wonder grows as puppets get bigger until all dancers are needed to manipulate the gigantic firebird that has risen as it seems from the ashes. Designed and directed by Janni Younge.

Seekers and sorcerers have to deal with wings that protect and attack, comfort and urge to fly higher until they meet eye to eye with the Firebird that sings by night
and pecks at golden fruit.

Photographer: CuePix/Mia Van der Merwe – National Arts Festival 2016