Consider how set can be used to communicate successfully the dance's ideal concept. Give an example from

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Consider how set can be used to communicate successfully the dance’s ideal concept. Give an example from “Still Life at the Penguin Café” and four other professional dance works

When a dance piece is created, it is not just the choreography of the steps that needs to be considered. To make a successful piece, firstly a starting point needs to be found, this can be anything ranging from an emotion, an animal, or even someone’s journey to work or school. When this has been decided upon, there are five main areas that need to be concentrated on. These are; costume, music, set, lighting and choreography. These different fields of the dance cannot be considered separate, nor is there a rank of importance; all five areas need to be created together. They compliment each other, and grow together to form the piece. In this essay I am going to focus on the importance of just one of these factors, the set. Using examples from professional dance works I am going to discuss how the set successfully communicates the dance’s ideal concept.

The first dance work I am going to use as an example, is from “Still Life at the Penguin Café” choreographed by David Bintley and designed by Hayden Griffin. I have chosen to discuss the set in the first scene of the performance, “The Great Auk”. There are two sections to this scene, the first section being a representation of the Great Auk’s habitat, the second being a busy café, run by penguins as waiters and sophisticated women as customers. The set for the first section is simple but effective. The stage has a black backdrop, covering the whole stage wall, and a smaller screen on wheels centre stage. This screen is roughly 7ft tall and a vertical rectangle. On it an icy landscape is painted. It shows ice and sea, using white and icy blue colours. It shows an image of the penguin’s habitat. It lets the audience know a bit about the penguin’s background and what it has to deal with in life. This is very effective as it communicates the meaning of the piece, showing that life for this creature is hard. This piece of se is also very useful within the piece, as the dancers use it as an added entrance. They hide behind the screen and appear at the sides, this give added interest to the piece, and it is also practical as it is on wheels, therefore easy to move on and off the stage. The rest of the stage is left empty for this section, providing space for the dance. For the second part of this scene, the icescape is moved off stage and the backdrop is lifted to reveal a café. It is a very realistic 3D set. It shows the café to be in a building similar to a conservatory, very sophisticated and elegant. Lots of false potted plants are used, often exotic such as palms, adding interest and adding realism. Reflective material is used to represent windows, when the lights shine on it, it give the effect of glass, also making the set more realistic. There are lots of different levels and dimensions to this set. The height gives the feeling of a very high ceiling, this provides a feeling of space and although the stage is full of a very detailed full scale set, it still feels spacious. On the stage area there are tables and chairs, a trade mark of café’s, defining the fact that it is a café to the audience. There are also coat stands. The tables and chairs are used throughout the performance for the dancers to sit at when they are not performing, they become the customers communicating to the audience that the café is a full, busy and lively place. Over all, these two sets are well created and very effective.

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I am now going to discuss the piece “Stampede” choreographed by Richard Alston and Designed by Fotini Dimou. The set for this piece was very simple but communicated the feeling of the dance sufficiently. Up stage left, there was a mediaeval band. This consisted of a harp, two viols, some drums and other period instruments. The musicians sat in a semicircular pattern and provided the music for the piece from this position, adding interest to the piece as the audience was given another focus point on top of the dancers. It also communicated the time period in which the piece ...

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