You have heard this music before: whether it accompanied Buggs Bunny, Chico Marx or Knight Rider, Leo Delibe’s ballet score is more familiar than you expect–and yet the ballet is barely known. If more people knew about Sylvia, more people would love it, so with that, let me send you some cute activities and access topics to help you get your child more intrigued by classical ballet using Leo Delibe’s mythic romance, Sylvia!
Science: Sea Caves
The story goes that Aminta sees Sylvia and Sylvia blames Cupid for letting her be seen. She gets mad, shoots an arrow at Cupid and Aminta jumps in front of it. Of course Cupid won’t let him be hurt, but to make Sylvia feel bad Aminta sleeps as if he’s hurt. When Sylvia comes to check on Aminta, Orion (the bad guy) kidnaps her and takes her to his Sea Cave.
In a tale so full of fairies and fauns, it’s funny that Orion is not so clear: sometimes he’s human, sometimes he’s a demi-god, but no matter what he’s always the baddie. So his cave has an underworld-vibe. Sometimes, set design makes it looks like a Solution Cave, all red and fiery, other times there are smooth stone walls and water. What kind of cave do you see in the ballet linked to below?
Technology: Bows and Arrows
Sylvia and her girl squad of fairies (Nymphs) all carry bows and arrows, and are related to Diana (aka Artemis), the hunter goddess. I told my dancers last week the fairies use a bow and arrow like Merida in Brave, so they expect a little intel on this.
When the children learn leaping, I tell them about arrows and show them how an arrow that’s bent or broken can only hit the ground. If your leg is going to fly through the air like an arrow, it has to be straight and sharp. I feel the below video does a much better job of describing the phenomenon than I could. A wonderful archer named Nu also gives a longer description which would be a greater use to parents than children, but it doesn’t hurt to share.
Engineering: Make A Mini Bow & Arrow
Below, see a tiny project to make a tiny bow and arrow!
This story is about fairies but the fairies aren’t airy or light: they’re feisty and physical. And did you notice: no wings!
Wings are a MOTIF. This is a detail in art which you see repeated. Each time and place it’s repeated it means a slightly different thing and when you look at all the times you saw the motif you can get a bigger idea of what it’s means to the story!
So how do we know they are fairies? In this ballet, we have “nymphs” who are like Diana so they have motifs in their costumes to show what they are and who they are like. I’ve made this little photo gallery of images of Diana. Notice she always has a bow, sometimes has a dog or a deer, and (most importantly) wears an emblem that looks like a crescent moon. Do you see how the bow can also look like a moon?!
Watch Sylvia in Full: here
I could share a more modern production (this one was shot in the early 70s) but this production is so very charming, I think you’ll like it!