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Approaches to GCSE Dance

“The Car Man” (2000) Matthew Bourne
by Melanie Knott

Contents
Background: Carmen & The Car Man Details of Bourne’s production Outline Structure Homework Questions Suggested choreographic tasks

CARMEN
Composer: Georges Bizet. Libretto: Henri Meilhac and Lucovic Halevy after Prosper Merimee’s novel. Carmen is an opera in four acts, set in the Spanish city, Seville. The story centres around a gypsy called Carmen, Don José, a corporal, Micaëla, a peasant girl and Don José’s childhood sweetheart, Zuniga, his captain and Escamillo, a matador. Carmen, a tempestuous, wayward and beautiful gypsy girl, desired by all the men, works in a Seville cigarette factory. Arrested after a fight with one of her colleagues, she is assigned to the custody of Don José, a corporal in the local barracks whose betrothed, Micaela, has just arrived from their country village to look for him. Thoroughly bewitched by Carmen, he allows her to escape and is himself placed under arrest. Meanwhile, at the tavern of Lillas Pastia, the glamorous toreador, Escamillo, arrives with his entourage and sets his sights on Carmen. Although tempted by him, she decides to wait for José. He arrives at the tavern on his release and becomes involved in a fight with his superior officer, Zuniga. Although reluctant to do so,he is prepared to desert the army and join Carmen and a band of her smuggler companions in the mountains. The fickle gypsy grows bored with Jose and, when Escamillo seeks her out, she agrees to attend his forthcoming bullfight in Seville. When Micaela appears, pleading with José to return home with her, Carmen urges him to go. Ignoring the gypsy’s change of heart and spurning Micaela, the unhappy José follows Carmen to Seville and accosts her outside the bullring, begging her to start a new life with him. She refuses and, at the very moment the crowd erupts in excitement over Escamillo’s triumph, José, crazed with grief and jealousy, stabs Carmen to death.

THE CAR MAN
Choreographer: Matthew Bourne Music: Terry Davies with Rodion Shchedrin’s Carmen Suite after Bizet’s Carmen. The Car Man is a dance in two acts, set in a fictional mid-west Amercan town called Harmony. The story centres around Luca, a drifter, Dino, owner of Dino’s Diner and Garage, Lana, his wife, Rita, her sister and Angelo, Rita’s boyfriend. When a stranger, Luca, arrives in Harmony he takes a job at Dino’s garage as a car mechanic. Throughout the story he affects everyone’s lives. Lana falls in love with Luca. Luca befriends Angelo, who is bullied by the other mechanics and he helps him to toughen up. Angelo also falls in love with Luca. One night at a wedding party Dino returns to find Lana (his wife) and Luca together. Lana hits her husband over the head with a tool from the garage and then makes Luca give him the final blow to kill him. Angelo finds Dino, and as the police arrive Lana makes it look as though Angelo has killed him. He is arrested and put in jail. Lana and Luca are together as a couple, but Luca has hallucinations about the death of Dino. This angers Lana, she thinks he is weak. Luca involves himself in gambling, car chases and fight nights to prove his strength. Angelo escapes from jail and returns to Harmony to find Lana and Luca. He captures Rita and holds her hostage until Lana returns. During the fight night he appears and fights with Luca. In the final climax when Angelo holds his gun to Luca, Lana fires a shot from behind that kills her lover.

The Car Man uses the themes of lust, passion, revenge and murder, which are all associated with the original opera.

The Car Man - Details

Choreographer

Matthew Bourne

Dance Company

Adventures in Motion Pictures

Producer

Katharine Doré Terry Davies – The Car Man Rodion Shchedrin – Carmen Suite Georges Bizet – Carmen

Music

Production Designer

Lez Brotherston

Lighting Designer

Chris Davey

World Premiere

May 2000 at The Theatre Royal, Plymouth

West End Premiere

September 2000 at The Old Vic, London.

Film

2001 by Channel 4 and KDM Films

Outline Structure of The Car Man
ACT ONE Notes – Look out for Prologue “Welcome to Harmony” The scene is set, the main characters are identified. Dino’s Diner, early evening. Mechanics dance

Scene 1

Shower scene Duets

Quartet Luca’s solo Angelo and Rita’s duet Taunting Angelo Midday, Two weeks later

Use of tyres, cars, chamois leathers. Movement actions associated with cars. Use of gesture. Dynamic content. Humour, use of lighting, gesture, towels, levels. Different kinds of contact work, pace and energy, communication of the idea of a social event, relationship of movements to music. Use of cigarette as a prop, how the dancers interact with each other. Toreador influence, use of elevation, how the solo communicates / introduces his character. Use of chairs, use of space, contact work. Careful of using this section at GCSE. Easily recognisable gestures in relation to the heat, good phrase to possibly reconstruct, contrast dynamic qualities to mechanics dance or duets in scene one. Teaching him to fight, use of punching actions. Flirtatious, use of elevation, compare to the dynamics of Luca’s solo in scene one. Not suitable for GCSE Images of social event, use of unison, recognise use of music to set the scene and add sinister element in lead up to the murder. Careful of using this section at GCSE

Scene 2

Heat

Angelo and Luca duet Lana’s solo Luca and Lana’s duet A Party, two months later

Scene 3

The Party
The Murder

ACT TWO Notes – Look out for Scene 1 A City Club

Unison + short duet Female sections Male sections Duets

Scene 2

Gambling The County Gaol Angelo solo

Many fragmented sections, movement images of guns, gambling, gangsters, cowboys. Lighting and set design change. Compare and contrast dynamic content of male and female sections, use of gesture. Choreographic devices used, contrast and complementary movement. Use of mime Hands tied – how does this enhance movement, good use of floorwork, how does solo display Angelo’s emotional state of mind, use of the jail cells behind for background movement and sound.

Visit by Rita, duet Guard assaults Angelo

How is Angelo’s conversation shown (flashback), use of the table, gesture. Use of slow motion as a film technique, images of wrestling, how does it show Angelo’s change in character, how the use of set and dancers behind enhances the drama of the scene. Check this before you show GCSE group, some may not deal with aspects of the duet.

Scene 3

Angelo escapes. The Club, closing time Lana and Luca’s duet

Hallucination

How is closing time indicated, use of contact work especially lifts, how do Luca’s actions and dynamics show that he is drunk, Luca’s deterioration. Dino returns in an hallucination, choreographic device of swapping dancers in a duet to heighten Luca’s state of mind, significance of final moment of the scene Lots of blood in this scene, check before you use. Begins as a solo for Rita, Angelo returns. Compare this to duet in Act One. How is Angelo’s character change shown through his actions and dynamics, use of gun as a prop. Use of camera, set, lighting effects. Use of punching actions, aggression building up identify this in the movement content, choreographic devices used in the duets. Use of space, how does the movement content always draw Lana back to the writing on the bar screen, her emotional state of mind and how the actions, dynamics and use of contact demonstrate this. Use of punching actions, boxing imagery, spatial formation as two men fight. Contact work, lifts, rolls, how the idea of a fight is created through action, dynamics, spacing and relationships. Use of mime / stage fighting. How is it different from duets in fight night part of the scene. How is the climax enhanced through spacing of dancers, music, lighting. What is the significance of the final moment in the act?

Scene 4

Dino’s Diner, late evening Rita and Angelo’s duet

Car Chase Duets

Lana and Luca duet

Fight Night Unison phrase (would be another good
section to learn as a performance piece).

Duets

The showdown – duet Angelo and Luca

The Car Man Act One, Scene One.
Answer all the questions. Pay attention to the number of marks allocated for each question. The Mechanics dance: 1a) Describe two actions from the mechanics dance. (4) b) For each of the actions identify why you think the choreographer chose them for this scene. (2) Description Action 1 Reason for choice

Action 2

2) 3)

List three dynamics used in the mechanics dance. (3) How do the dancers use projection in their performance of the dance? Why is it important for the audience? (2) Give an example of a movement that uses the set. (2) What sound indicates a change to the next part of the scene? (1)

4) 5)

The Shower: 6a) Describe the lighting in the shower section. (2) b) How does it add to the meaning? (1) 7) 8a) b) Describe two bathing gestures used. (2) There are four dancers. What spatial formation are they in? (1) What choreographic relationship do they use? Describe the action content at this moment. (3) Give one example of the use of different levels. (1) Identify one movement that has direct correlation to the music. (1)

9) 10)

Duets: 11) The female dancers use elevation and turns. Give one example of each. (4) Description Elevation

Turn

12) 13) 14) 15a) b) 16)

Describe one lift that is used in any of the duets. (2) Identify two spatial relationships in the duets. (2) Give one example of complementary movement. (2) Identify a moment of canon. (2) How does this link to the music? (1) Give an example of how the movements of the dancers add to the sound accompaniment? (2) In the final dance all the duets are moving in …………………………… (1) How have the dynamics changed in this extract? (1)

17a) b)

General: 18a) Identify two camera effects used Scene One. (2) b) Why do you think the choreographer has used them to enhance the narrative? (2) 19a) b) 20) List three props used by the dancers in Scene One. (3) Describe how one of the props is used. Refer to the action content in your answer. (2) Name two styles of dance can you see in Scene One and give an example from the movement to illustrate your answer. (4) Identify Dance style 1 Dance style 2 Example of movement

Areas on the whole dance work than can be used in discussion and could lead into longer questions:  Why is Matthew Bourne’s work often called dance theatre as opposed to dance.



This version of The Car Man has been adapted for film from the stage production. What can you do with film that you cannot do on stage? How might the stage production be different? What are the positive / negative aspects of the film vs the stage production. Why do you think Bourne wanted to make a film of The Car Man? Set Design and lighting. Describe it. Sketch it. How does it change in each scene? How does it enhance the narrative? How is it used in the choreography? Relationship of dance to music. Type of music. Style of dance. Correlation of dance actions / phrases to the musical accompaniment. Use of the music to enhance the narrative and how this links to the action on screen. How does Matthew Bourne use humour in The Car Man? Identify where it can be seen. What is it about the movement material and/or choreography that makes it humorous? How does Matthew Bourne illustrate the different characters through his choreography? Select two of the main characters and look at their action, dynamic and spatial content and how this contributes to the audience’s understanding of their character. Could also look at the part in duets and ensemble work and consider how the relationships also demonstrate their character.

 

 

Suggested Choreographic Tasks:
Based on Act One, Scene One: Duet:  Take 3-5 movements from the taught phrase to use as a motif. Ensure they are those that directly link to the images of the car / mechanics.  Add in your own two actions related to images of a car or working on a car.  Use all the actions and put into a phrase adding in transitional movements where needed.  Take any spatial relationships you see in the duets (e.g. facing, mirroring, circling each other, over and under, complement, contrast). Develop your phrase by making these spatial adaptations with your partner. Begin to make it look like a social dance.  Develop the dynamic content of your phrase so it becomes more percussive and therefore, more like a social dance.

Shower scene:  Create own bathing gestures in pairs. Make sure different levels are used.  Join with another pair, use a line formation (A B A B)  Do own contrasting phrases, finding how they “connect” visually. (i.e. what looks interesting)  Adapt the timing so that high and low levels are used at different times.  Add in a moment of canon and unison.

Other choreographic themes from The Car Man: Act Two, Scene One – A City Club Develop action content based on gambling, sinister characters, gestures related to socialising. Duet and group choreographic devices.

Act Two, Scene Two – The County Gaol (Angelo’s solo) Trapped, arms tied, trying to break free, final escape. Solo choreographic devices.

Act Two, Scene Four – Fight Night Punching, boxing gestures – unison phrase could be reconstructed. Duet choreographic devices and contact work.

Choreographic work with props – towels, drink bottles, chairs, cigarette. See various scenes in outline structure.


				
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