Video: ‘The Firebird’ puppets create metaphor for personal and political struggle

'The Firebird' director Janni Younge

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A new retelling of Stravinsky’s “The Firebird” by director and puppet designer Janni Younge and choreographer Jay Pather will open the Sun Valley Summer Symphony Orchestra Festival at 8 p.m., Monday, Aug 1.

The production combines puppetry in the style of the world renowned Handspring Puppet Company, where Younge learned her art, and movement by innovative choreographer Jay Pather.

For them, the piece is deeply personal, born out of their concern and frustration over the state of their South African nation that is divided by a struggle for equality and stability.

Younge’s vision transforms the Russian folktale “The Firebird,” used by Igor Stravinsky and choreographer Mikhail Fokine for their lavish classical ballet, into a stripped-down, modern allegory.

The puppets and movement style work together as metaphors for a personal expression of creativity, and as an exploration of the social/political situation in their South African country.

Watch videos with Younge and Pather talking about their approach and how they came to the ideas that are beneath the art.

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