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  Composer Profiles

Susan Bettmann

Illustration by Sam Kerson
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Susan Bettmann
Click here for RealAudio comments by the composer, [not yet available].
Click here for RealAudio version of Dragon Dance 1995 performance excerpt (145K).
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Susan Bettmann [Biography not yet available]

The Dragon Dance Theater

October 12, 1998

"In the ancient times the sun and the moon were children and they walked upon the earth."

        This is the premise of the series of stories that has enthralled Dragon Dance Theatre since we first encountered the stories in Oaxaca, Mexico in 1994. Who are the characters? The Tiger represents the entire growing world, the green world the world of earth bound existence. The Eagle, far sighted wisdom creature and predator soars through the sky and rules the firmament. The Serpent, denizen of the deep, bushmaster, rattler, cobra, anaconda, cave dwellers creatures of occult knowledge. The pitiful deer, the Stag King, victim of the childrens' arrows, sacrificial animal , spilling its blood to feed the children. The deer is the Old Womans' lover and the Old Woman is the Earth.

        Did the precolombians, the early Americans, leave us a clue to the mysteries of our times? Do these ancient stories reveal a way of life that is authentic to the continent? It is deer season now. The hunters line the back roads. Are they the children? Are they killing the Old Womans' lover?

        In '98 Dragon Dance and our Oaxaca allies, Comparsa, were joined in these theatrical inquiries by Nora Jacobson, the film director from Norwich, Vermont. Norman Briski, the Argentine director who directed the '97 summer production of Sol y Luna, suggested a modern version of the stories. Nora Jacobson proposed that we make a film version of the Sol y Luna stories in Oaxaca in 2,000. in which we modernize all the characters. Together we have begun designing this upcoming film production.

        This fall production is a lab version of Sol y Luna in which we attempt to answer some of these compelling questions. Is there a relationship between the eagles of the ancient stories and the helicopters that fly over the jungles of our times? When Cortez arrived in Mexico city, about 1520, there were two main warrior cults that he fought against, the Eagles and the Jaguars. To this day military units use these same creatures to distinguish themselves. Were the ancient allegories refering to these modern characters?

Halloween

        We will produce these inquiries, these experiments, in the spirit of the Halloween tradition which Dragon Dance Theatre has established here at the foot of Hunger Mouintain. Tomas Luna, a remarkable puppet craftsman from Oaxaca is in residence and has built classical Mexican skeleton puppets which we will display against the night sky. Lynn Ellen Klarich choreographs and leads the dancers. Brandon Klarich brings his rich drum tradition. Ellen Leonard sings. Jairo Sequiera plays the Nicaraguan guitar. Dennis Darrah leads the band. Leslie Becker joins us again to play the key board. The performance will feature Kelley Hunter, Richard Rubin, Jean Cannon, and Susan Bettmann as the Old Woman.

        The performance is on Saturday night the 31st of October beginning at 6:00 p.m.

        The entire performance will take place out of doors, please dress for the weather.

        We are expecting a full moon. There will be imaginative fire sculptures, original fireworks, masks, puppets, various theatrical surprises and refreshments.

        We will ask for a five dollar contribution at the gate. Hope to see you then!

        Please, no dogs, drugs, or alcohol.

        Take route 12 north from Montpelier 5 miles. Turn left when sign indicates Rumney School. Just past Rumney take right onto dirt road. Left at Fork , then take first left...

        For more info call: 223-5124


To the Dragon Dance, Halloween Company,

        Dancers, puppeteers, actors, musicians, we are underway! I hope you saw the ad in this weeks Seven Days? There has already been quite a lot of Halloween show activity. First of all, Tomas Luna from the Oaxaca project, who starred in the summer performances has stayed on to work on the Halloween show. He is making typical Mexican skeleton masks which are going to be beautiful and amazing.

        Locally we have made a plan with Lynn Ellen Klarich and her brother Brandon Klarich to collaborate on this fall project. Lynn will choreograph and Brandon will invent and direct the drumming which acompanies the various scenes. You will notice that they are going to be here almost every weekend, Saturday and Sunday throughout the entire process.

        Some of the regular Halloween people have already signed on, Jim and Pam and the girls have expressed interest, Richie is calling for humor, Josh is ordering technical equiptment, Dennis is organizing the music, Nora is asking questions about the video, and Kelly Hunter has just notified us, from the Virgin Islands, that she will be here for the last two weeks. We are also expecting Ross and Mary and Chianna, Sophie Pickens andf Taylor , Ben and Peter.

        What are we going to do? We propose that we continue to work on Sol y Luna in its new form as Jaguar Night . The question that we want to continue to ask is, what do the characters of the Sol y Luna cosmology look like in the modern world? We saw some examples of the impact of this question on the summer show, the eagles as helicopters for example, but there are many more possibilities and we want to keep developing them. Who is brother tiger in todays world? Who is el venado, Kundo, the stag King, in post-industrial Pan America. What does it mean for Sol y Luna to bring light to this modern world?

        Richie is saying , "let's lighten up", how about some good old halloween humor? The news today is pretty funny and maybe we'll try opposing it to the cosmology? Regular news broadcasts throughout the cosmology..This work is likely to go on at the Saturday evening rehearsals.

        We will also continue to develope a movement language and a continuous texture of music, problems which we focussed on and had good success with during the summer. Lynn is a very popular dance instructor and I am sure we are going to like her. Her brother Brandon is simply the best drummer in central Vermont!

        Puppetry is high on our agenda, rod puppets, masks, and remote control devices, Josh, Peter, Tomas and Sam are in the studio on this one. We are talking, we are planning, we are making things. We are looking forward to y'all joining us. There will be lots to do and we are going to make some very kool puppets. We imagine Taylor Sophie P. and Ben will be in these workshops.

        As usual, with the Halloween shows, a central theme will be fires and fireworks. We want to work with the idea, that only the old woman had fire, in the time before Sol y Luna. We want to see what that means. We want to make images of the old woman and fire as one being, one entity. We'll use all the outdoor spaces and we will prepare these fires especially during the Saturday afternoon workshops...

        Here is the financial plan for this production, again as in the Oaxaca shows, we are going to ask you to register. There are a few different possibilities, Saturdays in September, Saturdays and Sundays in October, see the attached schedule. We are flexible about this, how you want to work and when you can work. Please choose the days that suit you. We will provide overnight dormitory situations for those who want them. These overnights will include some meals, supper on Saturday, breakfast and lunch on Sunday. We are asking everyone to bring their Saturday lunch.

        We have a couple of places for one month residencies. Please inquire if you are interested.

        With those possibilities in mind here is how the fees apply:

        Twenty dollars a day, bring your lunch.

        Forty dollars for overnights, some meals included.

        A weekend then will start on Saturday morning and last through the Sunday rehearsal till six, it will include a dormitory and one supper, one breakfast and one lunch and it will cost sixty dollars.

        One day in the weekend, bring your lunch, will cost twenty dollars. (Generally speaking the plan will be building on Saturday, rehearsal on Sunday.)

        If you are going to do the whole series, with overnights during October, then the full fee will be two hundred forty dollars. If you are going to attend every workshop but never stay over, the fee will be two hundred dollars.

        Another option might be to start in October.

        Another might be to work only on Sundays, in the rehearsals.

        The last two days are more complicated, if you have particpated there will be no charge for the last two days, the dress rehearsal and the performance, unless you are staying over in which case the fee will be twenty dollars.

        However, if you are just coming for the last few days please plan to pay the forty dollar a day rate during your stay.

        We will adapt to the schedule you like, what ever days you want, however we ask you to pay your registration fees in advance and there will be no refunds.

        If you would like to make special arrangements please call me to discuss them.....223-5124........

        We are looking forward to working with you again.........

			Sam Kerson
				Art Director
						Dragon Dance


					Please note: 
				All Dragon Dance events, 
			rehearsals, workshops and performances 
			are drug, alcohol and tobacco free events. 

	If you are new to the  company, please enclose a note acknowledging that you
understand this prohibition and will support us in maintaining it. 
			
			Thank you,
				The Board of Directors...	

September, Saturday 19 and 26...an introduction...
	9:00 a.m. Registration, arrivals, coffee, the workshops open. 	
	10:30 to 12 dance with Lynn Ellen Klarich.
	12 to 1 drumming with Brandon Klarich.
	Lunch, brown bag.
	2:00 to 4:00
                         Sept 19,    2:00 to 6:00 
                         Sept 26..... construction workshops, puppets and fire constructions.
                         Sept 19	will end at 4:00 p.m.
	Sept 26, Supper at 6:00.
	Sept 26,  7:00 to 9:00 text and acting rehearsals in the dance studio. 
	
	October:   Saturdays 3,10,17 and 24.... production schedule... 
	9:00 a.m. Studios open, building.
	11 to 12 general dance ,
	12 to 1 rehearsals for small groups...
	lunch brown bag 1:00 to 1:30.......
	1:30 to  to 2:30 drumming. 
	outdoor firesculpture with Sam K and indoor puppet making 
	workshops with Tomas Luna will go on through the afternoon
	6:00 supper
	7:00 to 9:00 acting and text rehearsals in the dance studio with S & S.
	
	October: Sundays  4, 11, 18 and 25.... General Rehearsals.....
	9:00 a.m. studios open
	11 to 12 general dance 
	 12 to 1 rehearsal small groups....
	Lunch, brown bag  1 to 1:30  ....
	1:30 to 2:30 drumming.  
	2:30 till 4:00 general rehearsal .
	Finish the weekend, departures and pickups  by six..
Dress rehearsal  5:00 to 9:00 Friday October  30.
Performance   5:00 to 9:00 Saturday October 31.
		       DRAGON   DANCE   HALLOWEEN   '98
	 Check the dates that you are able to participate.
				Sat  Sept   19......
				Sat Sept   26.......

			           Sat  Oct   3.....     Sun Oct   4......
			           Sat Oct 10.....	    Sun Oct 11....
			           Sat Oct 17.....     Sun  Oct 18....
			           Sat Oct 24.....     Sun Oct 25.....
                                                             Fri Oct 30.....      Sat Oct 31......

Total the number of days _____ and multiply by $20.00 = _______
Total the number of nights
you are staying over     ______ and multiply by $20.00 = _________

Add the two totals
together..........................................................._________
		Please send this amount  immediately . 
		Make check payable to Dragon Dance Theatre.
		Please enclose this sheet with your payment.
					
				Thanks!  See you soon.......
							Sam

Name of participant________________________
Phone number_______________________________
Home address_______________________________
		___________________________

DRAGON DANCE THEATER


From All Species Day -- Sprlng Pageant:

We who descended into Earth's long winter
and ascend now

at the time of blossoming flower
at the time of budding leaf

at the time of balancing our Heart's desire:

Let us be cleansed and dedicated
by this Spring's new Fire.


From "The Tree" (performed in Glover, Vt. 1995):
PINE    ASH
OAK    FIR
WHO WE ARE &
WHO WE WERE . . .

 I the Oak, sacred to Thor
(God of thunder & lightning)

Europe's steadfast witness:

For nearly a thousand years
All treaties were signed
beneath my boughs.

When the wind rustles my leaves
Prophecies issue forth.

PINE    ASH
OAK    FIR
WHO WE ARE &
WHO WE WERE . . .

I the Pine, sacred to Poseidon
I formed the harps of ancient Greece

the Iroquois hold me sacred
I shelter eagle & owl

strong & light
my wood provided tall straight masts
for sailing ships
and formed the skeleton frame
of the European houses
first built in America

PINE    ASH
OAK    FIR
WHO WE ARE &
WHO WE WERE . . .

I the Fir held sacred as
the "Tree of Light"

I bind the human to the divine

my branches point to the sky
and draw down the word of heaven

I am held by some to be
the "Tree of Life"
in the Garden of Eden.

PINE    ASH
OAK    FIR
WHO WE ARE &
WHO WE WERE . . .

I the Ash in Norse mythology
give birth to man

I am the "Cosmic Tree",
axis of the nine worlds.

Branch, trunk and root
bind together

the world of the divine
the world of the living
the world of the dead.

I am time present
    time past
    time future

my branches release the Eagle of aspiration
my roots shelter the Dragon of desire!


All poems copyright Dennis Darrah (written for Dragon Dance Theater).
Dragon Dance Theater Artistic Director: Sam Kerson
Musical Director: Susan Bettman


To reach Dragon Dance Theater:
On-line:
Susan Bettmann
Dennis Darrah
By telephone: 802-223-5124
By fax:
By physical mail: RD 1 Box 2430, Worcester, Vermont 05682