CriticalDance Forum

ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'
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Author:  Azlan [ Wed Nov 29, 2000 11:21 am ]
Post subject:  ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

A nice, modern dance, alternative to the Nutcracker, KT Nelson's "Velveteen Rabbit":<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank>`Velveteen Rabbit' wraps holidays in heartwarming tale</A></B><BR>BY ANITA AMIRREZVANI, San Jose Mercury News<P>At a time of year when the ``Nutcracker'' rules the stage, it's easy to overlook a heartwarming holiday dance alternative for kids: ``The Velveteen Rabbit.''<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><B><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank>More</A></B><p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited October 24, 2001).]

Author:  Azlan [ Wed Nov 29, 2000 11:23 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

And, oh, there's a really cool web-based playroom for kids at:<P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank>The Velveteen Rabbit Playroom</A>

Author:  Azlan [ Fri Dec 01, 2000 11:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

A review:<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR><B><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank>ODC's 'Rabbit' a hare shy of success</A></B><BR>By Rachel Howard, SF Examiner<P>ODC/San Francisco ushered in the season of sugarplum fairies Saturday with nary a nutcracker in sight but instead presented a talking toy horse, a 10-foot-tall au pair and, in the center of it all, a flop-eared stuffed rabbit.<P>Judging by the scarcity of piercing cries, the hundreds of children present -- many accustomed to viewing "The Velveteen Rabbit" every winter -- were as enchanted as ever.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P><BR><B><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank>More</A></B>

Author:  Basheva [ Tue Dec 19, 2000 7:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

Los Angeles Times Review from a performance at the Getty Center:<P><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank>Garden Tour - Raphael's Art Leaps Onstage</A><P>

Author:  JM [ Fri Feb 09, 2001 7:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

My daughter was one of the little local kids they cast when they performed in our area several years ago. She had a great time rehearsing with them and that experience has remained in her memory as one of the most pleasurable she ever as a little kid. <P>I was skeptical at first about the idea of any of the Velveteen Rabbit being narrated during the performance but it's done very well and children really responded to it. The costumes are a HUGE hit, very whimsical. The dancer who played Boy at that time was exceptional in his exuberant dancing. KT is a very down-to-earth person and the little kids found her quite approachable. As a matter of fact, because of that experience and KT's encouragement, my daughter began to see beyond the realm of ballet only and has mentioned that she could be happy in a company like ODC.

Author:  Azlan [ Fri Jul 06, 2001 8:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

JM, for some reason I missed your post the first time. That is an incredible story about your daughter seeing past ballet because of choreography by KT and a performance by ODC. We're proud of them here in SF.

Author:  Azlan [ Wed Oct 24, 2001 7:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

[img]../../../images/odc-rabbit-2001f.jpg[/img] <P> [img]../../../images/odc-rabbit-2001b.jpg[/img] <p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited October 24, 2001).]

Author:  mehunt [ Mon Nov 26, 2001 2:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

<B>ODC/SF, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco<BR>"The Velveteen Rabbit"<BR>November 24, 200, 4 pm matinee</B><P> Image <P>Okay, so I admit it. Despite a jaded San Francisco air, I can still be found sniffing away and holding back tears next to the six-year olds at a matinee of ODC/SF’s "The Velveteen Rabbit". No one is too old for KT Nelson’s clever adaptation, which was designed as family fare and is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a two-week run at the Yerba Buena Center this year. It was sweet entertainment all the way.<P>For the Saturday matinee, the audience arrived with both new and threadbare rabbits in tow and one obviously more-experienced young theatregoer next to me demanded to know "where the crocodile was." Embarassingly, I had left my bear at home, which was too bad, because he would have loved it. Margery Williams's classic of the Velveteen Rabbit and the young boy who loves him so much that he becomes "real" is beautifully realized with fanciful sets and costumes designed by the children’s illustrator Brian Wildsmith, music from Benjamin Britten, and a narration read by Geoff Hoyle. Saturday saw the debut of an appealing Private Freeman as the Boy and a delightful Khamla Somphanh as the Rabbit, both of whom turned in performances that reminded one that telling a good story is what it’s all about.<P>Beyond even the broad theatricality and charm of the story, though, there is a craftsmanship that goes into this production. The dancers were possibly tired after already completing the first show of the day, but launched with their trademark energy into the performance, and Freeman displayed a perfect exuberance and child-like delight, even while exhibiting smooth and self-assured technique. For her part, even under several pounds of rabbit-wear, Somphanh had a adorably genuine quality that made me marvel at how deeply an audience can respond to a performer whose face you cannot even see. Much of the choreography, too, requires spot-on timing and it is a credit to the ODC dancers that they deliver it effortlessly and unnoticeably.<P>A wide-ranging supporting cast of characters gives one plenty to watch and at intermission there seemed to be a great deal of discussion amongst the younger set about the storyteller’s headgear, the toys, the rabbits, the Skin Horse, how funny it was that the Boy slid right off the stage with a bump. Nelson has made the piece accessible and yet never condescending, and to draw the audience in closer, she is not afraid to have the dancers break the proscenium to good effect. This reviewer was accosted by the inquisitive crocodile, who charged up the aisle to play with the audience, much to my young neighbor’s delight.<P>Other reviewers have said it, but it bears repeating: if you’ve got a young one and you just can’t stand the thought of one more "Waltz of the Snowflakes", take them to see "The Velveteen Rabbit"; you’ll have more fun than they do. And don’t forget your stuffed animal, or you’re going to feel left out.<P>The Velveteen Rabbit continues through December 9, 2001. For info check on <B><A HREF="" TARGET=_blank>ODC/SF's website.</A></B><p>[This message has been edited by mehunt (edited November 26, 2001).]

Author:  JM [ Tue Nov 27, 2001 3:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

Does anyone have their touring schedule? I'd love to see ODC/SF again. Don't know how often they come east.

Author:  Azlan [ Tue Nov 27, 2001 5:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

You're in luck JM. Here's what I have so far:<P>January 11-14, 2002<BR>New Jersey Performing Arts Center<BR>Newark, NJ <BR> <BR>February 7, 2002<BR>CSU- Monterey Bay<BR>CA <BR> <BR>May 13-25, 2002<BR>Hawaii Concert Society<BR>Hilo, HI <BR> <BR>September 16-18, 2002<BR>Bass Hall<BR>Fort Worth, TX

Author:  JM [ Tue Nov 27, 2001 8:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

I hope there will be more dates filled in? The only one remotely possible is NJ and, in Jan., that truly IS a remote possibility for me. No NYC dates?

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Nov 30, 2003 11:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

From 2002:


Toba Singer
Member# 1170

posted 09 December 2002 08:05 AM
“Velveteen Rabbit,” ODC San Francisco, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, November 29—December 15, 2002

During the holiday season around the San Francisco Bay, a kid born in colder climes might get to feeling a little wistful because Jack Frost is no longer nipping at your nose. However, as if to compensate for the warmer weather here, Terpsichore nips artfully at our toes—giving us a sleighful of Christmas-theme dance productions to choose from. Stellar among them remains ODC-San Francisco’s “The Velveteen Rabbit,” choreographed by K.T. Nelson, and inspired by the children’s picture book of the same name, by Margery Williams.

From the moment the very lithesome and confident child dancer, Oriana Schaaf steps onto the stage to crank up the story, we are drawn into the tale of the nursery-worn rabbit, who over the seasons, and with the help of the little boy who is his owner (Brian Fisher), and the fairy who intercedes on his behalf (Khamla Somphanh), succeeds in becoming real.

Now in its 16th season, this production has remained true to its seeming mission: To offer a gently-told cautionary Christmas story, with all of the savory fluidity actor Geoff Hoyle’s rendering can impart, unfolding and awakening from an inventive holiday quilt of contemporary dance. The moments of theatrical “truth” are plentiful, thanks in no small part to Ms. Nelson’s openness and willingness to use the children throughout the production in ways that do not relegate them to simply being kidlet accessories to an adult cast. Unforgettable are moments such as when the children are dragged by the legs like upright vacuum cleaners to clear the stage of the debris left from unwrapping presents in the Christmas Party scene. K.T. Nelson’s creative hand is never idle.

Brian Fisher’s buoyant theatrical presence is refreshing and engaging. The choirs of children in the full-house audience convulsed with laughter at his antic and expertly gymnastic dancing. Fisher’s Skin Horse gives us a character whose generosity of spirit is amplified by wide sashays in second position that breach the strict withholding decorum of British manners. Khamla Somphanh as Nana, supported beneath her skirt by Michael Vester, was as commanding as she was astute and caring. Her eye was everywhere, as she extended its locus via a pointing arm, hand and finger wherever she traveled.

The chorus of party guests, toys, medical attendants, and real rabbits was danced formally, playfully, dutifully and naughtily by the adult members of the company, with short cannons by the children. There was even a smooth pas de quatre, where two men partnered two girls. So far as I know, neither child’s parents filed a lawsuit. How very continental and un-American!

Some of the sprightly costumes and almost all of the scenery has changed since I saw “The Velveteen Rabbit” the first time many years ago, but when a star-studded cloud that is spiked to drop from above at bedtime appears, and Nana reaches up in a nanny-like routine gesture, plucking one of the stars out of the clouds and bringing it to earth for her sleepy charge, you feel your childhood toes all over again, as they curl into the carpet on Christmas Eve. Frost outside or not, that is exactly the right sense memory to take out of a theater south of Market Street in wintertime in San Francisco. Grab a kid or two, and go see it!
IP: Logged

Member# 1327

posted 09 December 2002 12:46 PM
Thanks for the great review, especially since I thought the performances were over, but thanks to you, I see I still have a chance to see this production.

Author:  Azlan [ Sun Nov 30, 2003 11:33 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

From 2003:

Choreographer brings 'Rabbit' to life onstage

Cassandra Braun
Contra Costa Times

KT NELSON may have stumbled upon the classic childhood tale of the Velveteen Rabbit 20 years late, but she could still appreciate its meaning. <a href= target=_blank>more</a>

Author:  kurinuku [ Sat Dec 06, 2003 10:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

Ballets' non-`Nutcracker' holiday hits

The San Jose Mercury News

The ``Nutcracker'' isn't the only cash cow for dance companies. Two dance groups in San Francisco have developed alternative holiday shows that help keep them going for the rest of the season.

Take ODC/San Francisco's ``The Velveteen Rabbit,'' the story of a little boy and his love for a stuffed animal. ``It's our cash rodent,'' says Lori Laqua, ODC's general manager.

Now in its 17th year, the show earns ODC from 20 to 25 percent of its budget, which Laqua says is $1.9 million this year.

Author:  LMCtech [ Fri Dec 12, 2003 6:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: ODC/SF's 'Velveteen Rabbit'

December 6, 2003
ODC San Francisco
The Velveteen Rabbit
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

First of all, this production made me cry. This story always makes me cry, so it is a compliment to ODC that their adaptation retains all of the qualities that make the tale so touching.

This is a story about the power of love. A toy rabbit is told by another toy that he will become “real” if he is loved enough by his young owner. The rabbit believes this and is thrilled when the boy refers to him as real to his nanny. He then is distressed when he is teased by a pack of wild rabbits for being just a toy. After the boy’s bout with scarlet fever, the rabbit is left out to be burned and sheds a tear in remembrance of all his happy moments with the boy. The tear turns into a fairy that grants the rabbit’s wish of becoming real and takes him to the pack of wild rabbits for safekeeping.

The ballet uses the music of Benjamin Britten and a recorded narrator who also sings over the Britten music at key moments. The music was obviously very carefully chosen and complements the various scenes and dances very well. The ballet opens with a flurry of snowflakes setting the time as winter. This dissolves into The Boy, danced by long time company member Brian Fisher, fighting to stay asleep when really it is time to wake up. Mr. Fisher takes some death defy8ing dives into his oversized pillow and throws several a mini tantrums on his hands in a beautiful show of physical prowess and juvenile obstinacy. Various other scenes follow the progression of the story and the seasons, which are delightfully revealed by the sets. Particularly poignant scenes include a scene in the nursery with the adult chorus tinkering around and jumping off the stage to terrify smaller members of the audience. The meeting of the toy rabbit and the real rabbits in the woods is another touching scene. The choreography for the real rabbits in this scene included much burrowing under legs and peaking from behind arms between the requisite capering and leaping about. The toy rabbit sits in one place trying to follow the real rabbits and getting more and more distressed until the Boy comes to take him back to the nursery.

The overall dancing of the company is very strong and expressive. The adult chorus is required to play many roles and they were very clear in their changes of quality and character. KT Nelson’s choreography is visibly different for each role which makes it easier for the dancers and the audience to delineate roles without confusion or trouble. The real rabbits dance completely different than the clockwork toys who dance differently from the Boy. The Velveteen Rabbit himself has several movement motives that pop up often including pulling his ears down over his eyes when distressed or sad, which absolutely yanked the heart out of your chest every time.

The set and costumes are very charming. They are sufficiently simple to be not overpowering for a small modern company, but still whimsical and youthful. The colors are bright and clear. The masked head of the title character is particularly well executed and really quite impressive.

Stand out performers included Yukie Fujimoto as the Velveteen Rabbit. She brought true compassion and heart to a role that is difficult because the face and head are completely covered. She has incredibly expressive body. Jane Sato as Nanny and the Fairy also stood out. She has a very pliable face and impressive stage presence.

As an alternative to the Nutcracker, this ballet is probably a good bet for the younger crowd and their parents. Even a child unfamiliar with the story will be enthralled. This ballet completely and beautifully captures the spirit and impact of the original story. And that is the highest praise of all.

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