Extra fun with Song of the Nightingale

This modern ballet is a simple story about appreciating what you have. It’s timely for Thanksgiving and it lets us go to a country we haven’t yet seen in our ballet voyages: China! Please enjoy these tiny extras for homeschool, fun and deepening our studies into ballet culture!

Our ballet story this week takes place in China!

Science: Senses

The Song of the Nightingale is a lot about our senses. The Chinese Emperor is so used to hearing the Nightingale he forgets she’s there. And when he gets the mechanical bird he is delighted how the toy sings. Maybe it replaces the real Nightingale?

I wanted to send along directions for little toys that also trick your senses. Maybe you’ve seen these: Thaumatropes. You can make them with handles or strings. You see, the eye lingers on the things it sees for a moment–even after that thing is gone–and that’s how you can see the bird inside the cage even if you know the bird and the cage are two different pictures in two different places!

To add technology to this mix, you might see the second video is from a place called The George Eastman Museum. This is a FILM museum, George Eastman founded Kodak, the film company. When you see a movie, you see one image at a time but they happen so close together your mind puts them together and you feel like you are seeing movement. That’s how we experience movies on film!

Engineering: Mechanical Birds

There are a lot of ways to make bird toys. We are going to start small with things you can make simple mechanisms for. You’ll see quickly how much art you can put into these projects! Just think how you could color this bird!

These wings can move…but we have to find a way to move them.
This projects shows you how to make moving wings AND make the bird fly!

Art: Costumes & Sets

The Nightingale fights with sickness. The emperor dances with sickness. The servants dance.

This is a drawing of the original costumes for The Song of the Nightingale. This was a ballet made by the famous Ballet Russes. They were a ballet company that brought together some of the most important artists of their time! Igor Stravinsky, the writer of this ballet’s music (also wrote Firebird, Petrushka and many others) did a lot with the Ballet Russes. And they often brought artists in to design costumes and sets. The sets and costumes for this ballet were designed by Henri Matisse, an artist you may have heard of before.

Coloring Book: Coming Soon

Watch the Ballet Online:

This ballet is hardly a half hour and features some of the lovely costuming you see above!

Fun, Final note: Birds!

Birds, I understand, are super trainable–like dogs! And there was a culture in China where people would take their pet song birds outside and even go to cafes with them to enjoy their friends, tea and bird song. Doesn’t that sound beautiful?! Here is a five minute, silent video of people at a bird cafe. See the birdcages hanging from the roof? What a lovely custom!

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