This is the blog for the Stage Movement Class at Metro State University in Denver. We'll be discussing our readings and viewings for class here.

May 12, 2017

Movement Observation

Alison Karner
Stage Movement
Jenn Zuko
Movement Observation

For my movement observation I attended Metro's production of The American Clock. This show provided most of the actors with the challenge of creating multiple characters. This primarily had to be done with the use of physicality and the voice as the actors spent most of their time onstage and costume changes had to be kept simple and to a minimum. Overall, I was very impressed with how well all of the actors achieved this and didn't have much trouble at all deciphering when the actors were playing a different characters.

I liked Toby's physical development of the Grandpa character. I can only imagine how difficult it was for him to maintain the posture, but combined with his voice work, he was nearly unrecognizable. I also really liked Jacob Thorne's use of physicality in the character of Theodore Quinn. I thought that he had really great energy and truly embraced the vaudeville idea with this character as every movement was big and presentational. Lastly, I loved the physical transformation of Cassie's character as the play went on. Cassie used her physicality to indicate both age as time went on as well as status when the family lost more and more money. In the beginning, her posture was very strong and tall, and by the end her posture was a little more relaxed and weak than it was, indicating the fragile state her character ended up in.

Another challenge presented to the actors was navigating the ramps used in the set, as it made walking up and down them, especially the women in heels. I noticed that almost every woman had to move slower and with more calculated steps, but not once did it interfere with the flow of the scenes.

This play was so moving, and it was obvious how invested all of the actors were in making it successful. The attention to detail when it came to physicality was spectacular and nobody seemed out of place for the time period. I am always so impressed with the work my classmates do and this show was no exception.

May 8, 2017

Stage Movement Review

Toby Yount
Stage Movement
Jenn Zuko
Once Upon a Mattress Movement Review

I saw Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Production of Once Upon a Mattress. I am not a huge fan of old school musicals but that being said I did enjoy the physical movements of the ensemble of the cast and one particular character King Sextimus played by Michael Rossitto.
A brief summary of the play it is inspired by the fairy tale Princess and the Pea and the basic premise is everyone wants to have sex but they can’t because of Queen Aggravain rule that no one can have sex until her son Prince Dauntless finds a suitable princess that can pass one of the Queens tests. Then a possible candidate arrives going by the name Princess Winnifred but will she pass the Queens test? Will find about it by singing about it hilarity ensues and everyone gets to bone in the end except the queen. Yay boning!!
So the ensemble had really great movement throughout all the choreography they all did a really great job and based on the each of the characters movements it was mainly buoyancy with some radiance energy to keep the pacing up and not give the audience too much to rest because most of the comedy is rapid fire and not a lot of slow jokes. The famous one I can remember clearly is when they were doing a dance in an attempt to tire out Princess Winnifred with the song “Spanish Panic.” I was impressed that each ensemble member had a different way of showing that they were getting tired through their body. It added a lot of layers in a song that probably didn’t need it but it was a nice touch.
Now let me talk about King Sextiumus. His character is interesting because until the end of the play he doesn’t talk because of a curse that happened to him before the play started. So he had to complete reliance on his body and facial expressions. So he used a lot of clowning to help the performance come through. He did a really good job of taking extra steps to show us what he was trying to communicate. You can tell he was a pervert but a good hearted one because he wanted to help Dauntless and end this nightmare his wife has put the kingdom through. One scene I remember in particular was when he had to use his body without being too overly crude explaining to his son what sex is and where babies work. It was hilarious seeing his patience slowly lose but trying to keep it PG even though it was clear his song was having trouble getting it. Then when he finally gets the payoff and relief he got in his face was well earned and made the whole moment have that much more impact.
Not my favorite musical or play by any means but I did enjoy the care that went into. As someone who would say they are an amateur comedy critic having that kind of commitment to the body and through the choreography can make a night and difference and can make even a show I don’t particularly like still very enjoyable. So I applaud the people and their efforts on this play!

May 5, 2017

American Clock Movement analysis

Octavio Ledezma
Stage movement
April 26, 2017
Stage movement observation
I saw the production American clock recently. I honestly thought it was going to be boring but wit was a really good show. I paid attention closely to the movement on stage and was impressed with the movement. There were a lot of aspects of this play that I was impressed with. This play was a little depressing to show how many struggled and it can happen again any time soon or later. I was watching everyone in this production but there were some actors who just caught my attention more than others.
 Tobey’s character of grandpa was so believable based on the way he was moving in the stage. He did have the spatial awareness. Another character who was really good with stage movement. He was energetic portraying a young person. But as his life time went on his movement really matching his age. For example, when he had his college degree he had a slight stiffness that most people do get in their twenties and it really showed. The movement of max was also one to talk about as well. I could really tell that he was an investor and one to hide his money in his shoe. This show was so well done on the play it said that they were playing multiple parts. Everyone did good at the movement of characters that they were portraying. When everyone was broke, I could see the body language of depression and they move like they were homeless and the fainting of some of the characters really showed the excellent portrayal. I also like the scene when they were at a restraint everyone seemed to move like they were having conversations with gesturing to the person that they were talking to.
The other was good to when she was having a conversation with her son and she could tell lies well to comfort her son and hide the truth of what is going on. Her concern for the child was great awareness and great sense of security for the child. The spatial awareness was excellent when she was talking to the grandpa and the child so it seemed well put together.

This performance was very well done and I can tell that there was a lot of hard work put in this production. The movement among the actors and the characters were well done and well thought out.  The acting was well done and the actors stayed on que the entire time and if there were mistakes I wouldn’t be able to tell because the flow was well done. The actors did their warm ups well and it shows from the excellent job that everyone did. Timing is everything and I saw the timing among the actors was perfect and well done without being too overdone. The energy was a bit potent and a little bouency.

Our group did a three legged race. It was a lot of fun to explore and goof around with different movements. It really showed  and enhanced how important physicality can be when there isn't a script to use to tell a story. We broke up into partners and tried to use similar movements but in different ways to show the dichotomy of the two teams. We enjoyed putting together something so different, and playing with very large movements and speeds to tell out story.

N. Carlson Movement Analysis - An American in Paris

Nicole Carlson
Stage Movement
Jenn Zuko
March 22, 2017

Movement Analysis
An American in Paris
American in Paris was performed to rave reviews from numerous critics in Denver and from the audiences as well.  It was a beautifully put together show in every way.  Because this show is an extremely intense dance show, it was a perfect show to analyze movement.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that the leads were extremely strong in not just dance but also in their character movement choices.  
From the very first scene where we were introduced to Adam Hochberg played by Etai Benson we immediately recognized that he used potency to create his character.  In the musical, Hochberg had an injured leg from World War II and even the light amount of dancing he did seemed heavy.  Watching him move made me feel exhausted for him.  He drug his leg around throughout the entire show and never faltered.  I kept waiting for him to forget about it, especially in the dance scenes but he never did.  He kept it consistent and believable.  He also led his movement from his waist.  Which fit well with his injury.  
Most of the characters in this play were very upright.  They had excellent posture.  Of course, the majority of the actors in this play are extremely strong dancers so their physical body presence is excellent. Dancers seem to have a natural ability to express emotion with their bodies and have it read perfectly from the audience.  Most of the actors in this show were also using buoyancy.   They were light on their feet as if they were floating across the stage.  All of the movement was smooth, light, and had a sense of freedom about it. 
During one part of the show Lise Dassin, played by Sara Esty, jumped into Jerry Mulligan’s  arms, played by Ryan Steele.  When she did this she looked literally light as a feather.  Her buoyancy was impeccable and Steele made it look like she weighed nothing and they were floating on a cloud.  Here again is the factor of buoyancy.   It was amazing for Steele to not show the heaviness of Esty jumping into his arms. 
The use of stillness in this show was excellent.  One particular area that struck me was the fishermen that sat on a wall.  They were still through an entire scene and seemed to be part of the scenery but midway through the scene they rose from the wall and left and it really worked nicely.  Dancers seem to have an upper hand on stillness since it is used in dance. Another part that stillness really impacted the audience was when everyone found out that Lise and Henri were engaged.  At that moment, the five main actors: Adam, Henri, Lise, Milo, and Jerry all came to the front of the stage and had a moment alone.  They were spread out evenly but the audience knew that they were each having a moment alone.  We knew that they were all unhappy with the choices that had been made and it was a very powerful moment.  
The use of stage space was excellent.  This is one of the first shows I have seen at the Buelle that used the entire stage in specific parts.  Of course they were dancing, but it worked.  There was not a spot on the stage that the two dancers Jerry and Lise did not touch.  That was also apparent when they had no sets on stage and they danced all the way back to the sky drop.  
Milo, the American female in the show had a very upright, tight posture.  She was portraying a wealthy American aristocrat and she was very rigid with her movements.  It worked well and fit perfectly with her character.
Jerry used a Captain Kirk and it was so smooth and not a sound was heard.  It was more of a dancing captain kirk than a fall but it was still well done. There was one fight scene where Jerry hit Henri and knocked him down.  That fight choreography was a little slow but looked realistic with Henri falling onto his back exactly as we have learned.  His head also did not touch the floor.  Jerry also knocks down the injured Adam and he does a side fall.
Literally everything in this show was a dance.  The set changes were done with dancing or smooth movement and I absolutely loved it.  It turned the most complex set changes into a scene and everything into a dance.  The set changes took on new meaning and it was beautifully done.  The actors would use the set pieces as part of their ballet.  It was inventive and fresh.
It was obvious that the Director was also the Choreographer because everything was so smooth and clear.  The pictures painted by the cast in each scene were quite beautiful.  I have never seen a show so together and I think that having the Director and Choreographer as the same person really took that to a new level.  The blocking, dancing, set changes, and stillness all joined together to form a beautiful piece that was artful.  So much of this show was utilizing the actors and dancers bodies and their movement to give us perspective and make us feel something and it worked quite well.

Stage movement Review

Fabian Vazquez
Stage Movement
Jenn Zuko
Once Upon A Mattress
The Use of Physical Humor
            When it comes to the productions by Metropolitan State University of Denver there are several things which are done well and some which in certain aspects could use improvement. On March 4th, I was able to see the production of Once Upon A Mattress by Mary Rodgers and Marshall Barer and directed by Marilyn A. Hetzel. The story follow a kingdom in distress due to the ridiculous laws set in place by Queen Aggravain to safeguard her clueless son Prince Dauntless. The retelling of this fantastic classical comedy musical was executed amazingly with a number of different physical pieces interjected in this production of Once Upon A Mattress. The musical itself already lends well to the many movement techniques which can be implemented into it due to the simple nature of how it was written, and MSU Denver was able to transition this on to the stage. There was a lot of different clowning elements put into many different scenes, the dexterity and stamina of the actors, and the usage of this movement to develop characters and move the story further along.
            The usage of clowning techniques and many other physical comedic effects in this production of Once Upon A Mattress was used well and made for some great moments in the show. The antics of King Sextimus, the Minstrel, and the Jester, played by Michael Rossitto, Bryan Anderson, and Andy Nuanhngam respectively, were when we saw many of these elements come into play and with their interactions with other characters. During the scenes in which it had been the three of them, the usage of pantomime was very strong and lent well to the story, due to the curse put upon King Sextimus of being mute. Another character in which physical comedy was used successfully was with Princess Winnifred, played by Kinsey Scholl, in which there were moments throughout the play that involved with the fleshing out of her character as a tomboy. One particular moment with this character which had quite a bit of physical humor, was the back and forth playing between her and the Nightingale of Samarkand, played by Brianna Herman, in which they had been on top of the huge bed of mattresses. The flapping of the wings and fighting between the two characters as Princess Winnifred tried to sleep made for an enjoyable moment.
             When it came to all the actors, there was a level of physical shape to be able to carry out the many physical feats in the show while still singing and acting. The whole ensemble had been able to carry a lot of the musical numbers due to this fact. During the number The Song of Love the many ways in which the spelling of the Fred was implemented there was the need for actors which had to be quick with their movements and be present. There was the number of the Spanish Panic which had most characters having to dance quicker and quicker as one by one each couple tumbled away until all who were left was Prince Dauntless and Princess Winnifred. During this number, the actors seemed to have good control of their gravity and bodies, allowing for a safe approach to what could have been a chaotic and cataphoric number, but could just as easily made for a much more boring piece if not for the level of physical control. The movement of some moments in which characters fell into moats, simple fell to their knees, or fell victim to their disadvantages, the control of their physicality helped greatly in the performance to make these pieces more realistic or to gain the desired effect.  
            The musical pieces were all well-choregraphed along with the other elements already implemented and also the movement lending itself to the story. The script itself and the significant plot points of the story already have a large portion of this physicality built into it, and this production could use these elements successfully. King Sextimus being a mute throughout the musical and having this as one of the main obstacles for the characters to overcome is a built in physical trope, making the character pantomime in order to communicate. The way these scenes had been created on stage for this production took on what seemed to be a common approach, but with the actors that had been in command of the movement it made for an overall better piece. Movement was also used to establish many characters, and to flesh out who there were and what they meant to the story as a whole. Their modes of movement and presence on stage made for interesting stories on their own with each being able to live in the body of their character, instead of simply letting the performance being one dimensional and simple use their everyday way of moving.

            This production of Once Upon a Mattress put on my MSU Denver’s theatre Department was a well-crafted one, which also did well in terms of  movement. The use of clowning and physical humor was played to the show, the control that actors had over their physicality showed, and the ability to choreograph story and create characters through movement all came through in the performance. 

Apr 14, 2017


My group did the Clownlympic event of Frisbee Golf. We started out backstage, then arrived at the park and squeezed out of our obviously tiny clown car, upstage center. We then picked teams and divided the stage a bit. Even threw it to Fabian, who threw it back but was intercepted by Amanda who threw it to me. I then used a straddle jump to catch it, then tossed it off to Octavio and ended in a 180 degree jump. Then it was thrown to Toby, who didn't catch it, which made Evan and I go for it at the same time. I used leaps to reach the frisbee and then an assemble, which also knocks Evan out. Then I threw it to Octavio, but was knocked over into a side fall by Fabian. After everyone else had been knocked out of the game, Toby discovers he is the last clown standing; which made him do a celebration combo of moves and then leave us behind.

The other two groups explored three-legged races and curling, which we were able to accompany with different instruments. Each group employed several jumps, rolls and traveling moves; with each having a unique way to communicate their event and create a cohesive story.