YORK FINE ARTS LABEL RELEASES FIRST EVER CANADIAN DANCE HISTORY CD-ROM
TORONTO, August 28, 1997 -- As students return to classrooms and studios this fall, the York Fine Arts label is launching its Learning Series with a unique teaching tool: Shadow on the Prairie, the country's first interactive multimedia dance history tutorial.
This CD-ROM is the only multimedia courseware on the market that offers an in-depth look at a pivotal period in the development of dance in Canada.
Integrating interactive text, video clips, photography and music, the CD-ROM brings to life the history of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) from 1939 through 1995. It examines the work of choreographer Gweneth Lloyd, the RWB's founding artistic director, and her successor Arnold Spohr, who put the company on the world map. The tutorial explores in detail Lloyd's seminal ballet Shadow on the Prairie, which tells the story of a young bride's lonely and desperate struggle with harsh prairie life in the early 1900s. From choreography, notation and music to costumes, setting and cast, the user is engaged in a discovery of all aspects of the dance.
Aimed at the general public as well as dance instructors and students, this multimedia courseware fills a large void in teaching materials on Canadian dance history.
Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt, a York University dance professor, who co-authored Shadow with her York colleague, dance professor Mary Jane Warner, said there are very few textbooks on Canadian dance history.
"Typically, teachers have had to seek out films, articles, research collections and archives. Now, students have the text, as well as the visual and auditory materials they need, in one package," said Fisher-Stitt.
It took Warner and Fisher-Stitt, both prominent dance historians, more than four years to research, develop and produce Shadow on the Prairie. The program includes excerpts from Richard Fleming's music score, footage from the National Film Board's 1953 film of the work, and materials from the archives of Dance Collection Danse. Warner's expertise in notation was vital to the tutorial since Lloyd's original choreographic notes and the sets and costumes for Shadow were lost in the fire that destroyed the RWB's studios and offices in 1954.
The courseware, suitable for dance enthusiasts aged 12 and older, is exceptionally user-friendly. On-line questions at the end of each section help users test their understanding of the materials. Printed teacher's guides are available for both elementary and secondary school study, focusing on dance history and movement analysis, choreographic activities, and connections to other disciplines such as Canadian art, literature and music.
The CD-ROM and Teacher's Guides are available from York University and are also distributed through Dance Collection Danse, Canada's leading publisher of books on dance.
Shadow on the Prairie marks the first in a line of cutting-edge teaching aids being developed for the York Learning Series. Fisher-Stitt is currently developing another CD-ROM for the series which explains and demonstrates ballet allegro terminology and movements.
The York Fine Arts digital recording and publishing label was established in the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University last year to showcase the university's artistic, pedagogical and technical talent. Now, along with the Learning Series, the label is also launching the York Artists Signature Series with a collection of five music and spoken word CDs. These include Phillip Werren's Stone Witness - Summer Evening composed for dance, and university orator Maurice Elliott reading from Charles Dickens.
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