A brief photographic history of Dragon Dance....
Dragon Dance Theatre was founded in 1974,
Sam Kerson is and has always been the artistic director.
Sam recieved a BA in theatre from Goddard College in 1972, where he studied formally with Marc Estrin, Anna Halprin, the San Francisco dancer and with Sally Nash of Washington DC.
During this time Bread and Puppet was in residence at Goddard and Dragon Dance was based in Vermont. For many years we had regular dealings with B&P including participation in the Circus and Pageant from '72 until '98.
These were the years of the hippies, community gardens, pot luck suppers, food coops, the struggle against the Vietnam war and the Nuclear industry. "Collective", "community"," cooperative", "creation" were the concepts of our times.
In 1987 Dragon Dance started a series of projects in Nicaragua. These were cultural exchange projects, based on our theatre ideas, especially collective creation. The first year we created and performed, Death and the General, a stage play, based on the real historical events of the Nicaraguan revolution. The images on the right represent a collective creation based on the poem Lo Fatal , by Rubin Dario. These one month residencies, creating theatre works in Nicaragua, continued untill 1992.
In 1994 Dragon Dance started a series of cultural exchange projects with Comparsa and Tecom in Oaxaca de Juarez, Oaxaca, Mexico. These projects were possible thanks to the cooperation and friendship of Roberto Villaseñor. A number of these spectacles were performed at the archeological site, Monte Alban. Sol y Luna, the Zapotec cosmology, became our principle theme, in Mexico and in Vermont until 1999.
This work used local mythologies and collective creation, giant masks, live music and spectacle.
Our work in Oaxaca was especially rich in cultural exchange and included, besides the large group of local artists, people from Chile and Argentina, France, Canada and the US.
In 2001 Dragon Dance, shifted its base from Vermont to Montréal. Katah joined the company and we started an ongoing tour, taking us back and forth, between Mexico and Europe. We continue to work on collective creations with local people, changing themes as we change communities. Most recently, Persephone in the Underworld, in France, The Fire Fish, from the Kalevala, in Finland and Day of the Dead, in Mexico. Our approach is to go to the community and discuss their situation and dramatize the stories they tell us. Local people act in the pieces and we perform the work in their spaces and in their language.
In the fall we went on to Ii, Finland where we were invited to develope a community theatre piece about the Three Kings. This was a three month residence including an extensive workshop in plastic arts and mask making.
Our Next project will be in Jalpan de Serra, Queretaro, Mexico -
June 21 to July 21, 2013
More info and registration click here:
Especially significant for us, was meeting Norman Briski the well known Argentine comedian. We first met him in Cuzco, Peru in 1973, just as he was going into exile. We worked and studied with Norman during his years in New York, till 1984 and then continued to invite him to work with us in Vermont until 1999.
An un-anticipated result of the projects in Oaxaca was parallel projects in Vermont which we called, Dragon Dance Theatre's Pan American Puppetry Arts Institute.
These summer events drew artists from Latin America to Vermont. Norman Briski, Ignacio Miranda, Roberto Villaseñor and his nephew, the dancer, Ricardo Flores, Los Tlacuaches y Los Tatawaris, Mayra Jimenez De Sales, Tomas Luna, Tania Solomonoff, and various artists from Europe, Dan Roth and from around the US, Scott Brown and Nathan Scott, and from Canada, François Bruneau and Jean Richard. Starting in '95 up till 2002 we ran the events every summer. Producing various versions of Sol Y Luna but also the Little Fat Man and Two Weddings and an Assassination, and the Execution of Maximillian. We stopped holding the events after the World Trade Center bombing, when it became more difficult for people from Mexico to enter the U.S.
Norman Briski, directing the show called Puzzles at the Dragon Dance Studios in Vermont, 1976
Later in 2008, we built fifty large masks with Roberto Villaseñor, in Puebla, Puebla, Mexico, these masks are dramatic elements for a piece about the Conquest and the Mixtecos which we hope to produce next year.
During this same period we made our first mytho dramas in Vermont, we focused on the Sumarian goddess Inanna. We studied the, Inanna Cycle, as described by, Diane Volkstien and Samuel Noah Kramer. These were giant pageants with great fires, and live music, performed at night, in an enormous outdoor space, made up of forest and field. These pieces were performed annually, at Halloween, for seven years. They were co-produced by the astrologer Kelley Hunter.
Sol y Luna at Monte Alban, Oaxaca, 1994
Roberto Villaseñor and Sam Kerson, Oaxaca, 1996
Sam and Mark Kerson, Vermont, 1998
Deer Dance, Vermont ,1998
Mexico - Queretaro, Queretaro
Mexico - Jalpan de Serra, Queretaro
Mexico - San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca
Mexico - Puebla, Puebla
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Mexico - Vermont - Vermont - Mexico - Vermont - Mexico - ......
The Final show of the Inanna cycle , The Hulluppu Tree, re-mounted in a one month collective creation workshop, became an ecology show focussing on the destructive harvesting of the forest and the subsequent flooding of the Tigres/Euphrates region that was causing wide spread devestation in 1992.
Sol y Luna at Monte Alban, Oaxaca, 1996
"It is historys' wry paradox that when the people of the third world finally win their struggle to be free, those who have held them down will themselves be free for the first time"
...adapted from Doctor MLK
Dewey Day parade, Montpellier, Vermont 1999
Creation of the A Bomb; remembering the work of Marie Curie...
...and the history of The Little Fat Man
Thanks to the great photographers who participated in documenting the Dragon Dance experience: Andrew Popper, Phil Danzing, Andrew Kline, Henry Hubben, Irena Markova, Vicente Jimenes Desales, Edson Caballero, Kim Pagani, Pedro Reyes, Michel Faucherre, Yves Zinc, Lauri Akola, Sam Kerson, Katah and Matti Räntillä.
Top left: rod puppets, Cusco, Peru
top right: Puzzles, Vermont
bottom left: Stilting in New York
bottom right: Backyards, Manhattan
Florence Thibeault from Le Théâtre de Mathieu was co-producer for the Persephone Entre Deux Mondes production in Montpellier, France in 2006