The Firebird Suite was written by Igor Stravinsky for the Ballet Russes and the collaborations between those artists were historically valuable and inspired to folklore. Children find Firebird entrancing and I presume they have for a very long time. Your dancer might remember that the young farmer, Ivan, from The Little Humpbacked Horse, found a Firebird feather. This is a continuation of lore among stories. I describe it to the children using movies: If you see R2D2 in a Star Wars movie and then see a totally different Star Wars TV show or cartoon with a character that’s just like R2D2, this is because the movies and shows about Star Wars all happen in the same universe. (They understand this somewhat despite it being rather conceptual.)
As we’re only enjoying the story of Firebird for two weeks, I’m doing an abridged STEAM entry on the ballet: we’ll touch on apples (because golden apples are lure of Katschei, the story’s villain) and the many versions of the Firebird’s costume.
Science: The Oxidation of Apples
The apples in Katschei’s Garden are magical and golden (special!), but the apples in season in the fall are available everywhere (not special). It’s a lower elementary tradition to talk about oxidation in apples. Your preschooler or kindergartener can also participate in this simple science, as they can observe the cause and effect of an apple browning after it’s cut, whether or not they absorb the words “oxidation” or “molecule.” A simply described experiment for observing oxidation follows.
I’m also fond of this “next step” video in which the science teacher observed the browning of the cut apple and looked for different ways to prevent that.
Art: The Firebird
She’s a character from folklore, so we’ve had a long time to imagine how she looks. She is always a girl, cruelly changed into a magical bird by a mean magician (Katschei) and she always sacrifices herself so that her captor is stopped from wrongdoing. She’s dynamic and highly honorable, but only occasionally feminine.
The original costume drawing for The Firebird is not what you’d call pretty. There’s a great video on this from the NYMoMA the parents will like more than the children. But I’m providing a little feast for the eyes below. See how many ways we have imagined the Firebird? How many colors make the fire? Perhaps use these for inspiration when you color the coloring sheet below the slideshow.
Watch The Ballet Online
As always, here is a link to see the ballet in its entirety online. Firebird usually takes less than an hour and it’s full of captivating imagery so it’s got a fighting chance of keeping any child’s attention. The link below is to a production with super star Diana Vishneva.