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Cautionary Tales From Canada

Cautionary Tales From Canada

A guest post by Patrick Swanson (Artistic Director, Revels, Inc.) and Stephen D. Winick, Ph.D.
Folktales have a predictable, familiar structure: beginnings and endings are ritualized in order to give a clear signal that we are entering and leaving another world, while middles often contain important lessons that are part of a perceived “common sense.” The lessons in French-Canadian culture come from a fascinating mixture of English, Scottish, Irish, and French tradition shaped by the dominant religion, Catholicism. Many folktales feature the village priest and his enemy, the Devil. A favorite cautionary tale about the Loup-Garou, or Werewolf, includes important information about the reason for the beast’s condition: neglecting to go to confession for seven years.

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Song and Music in Québec: A Brief Introduction

Song and Music in Québec: A Brief Introduction

A guest post by Stephen Winick, Ph.D.
This French-Canadian Revels includes a selection of ancienne musique and nouvelle musique Québécoise, blending old French tradition and New World ingenuity with a modern flair. On his first trip to the New World, in 1534, explorer Jacques Cartier found a rich land inhabited by Huron and Iroquois Indians. He promptly claimed it for France. After permanent settlement began in 1608, immigrants to Québec came from all over France, but especially from several provinces in the north and west: Normandy, Picardy, Anjou, Poitou, and Brittany. Not surprisingly, many of the traditional French songs we now find in Québec are common in those provinces as well. “Dans les prisons de Nantes,” for example, is set in Nantes, an important city that was historically the capital of Brittany. Located at the confluence of the Loire, the Sevre, and the Erdre, Nantes may be remembered fondly by many of our villagers as a model for their own Trois-Rivières.

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The Origin of the Gigue (Québécois Step Dancing)

The Origin of the Gigue (Québécois Step Dancing)

A guest post by Pierre Chartrand
In Québec, step dancing is known as the gigue. The step dancing in this show is a style from the eastern part of Canada. It is one of a number of varieties of step dancing found throughout Canada. Step dancing originated in the British Isles. Its path to Canada began with the large Irish immigration between 1832 and 1847. As a port of entry, Québec City was first to feel the Irish influence. As French-speaking Canadians adopted the dance, colonists moving northward carried the gigue with them.

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Marking the Shortest Day of the Year

Marking the Shortest Day of the Year

A reprint of “The Shortest Day” by Patrick Swanson (Artistic Director, Revels, Inc.)
In our own time the Winter Solstice is indissolubly linked with the festival of Christmas, though it was not always so. The myths of the festival are so deeply embedded within us that we no longer ask why we bring an evergreen into the house or decorate with candles or hang mistletoe. We take these things for granted as we plunge into the hectic preparations for Christmas and the New Year. Overall there is a heightened sense of something significant happening at a fixed point on the calendar. For some it is Christmas night, for others it is watching the ball drop in Times Square. The commercial frenzy of gift buying is fueled by references to holly and stars and carols and the streets are illuminated by strings of twinkling lights. Sometimes the blurring of images can distort the meaning of the event that is being celebrated.

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Meet The Christmas Revels Chorus (Part 3)

Meet The Christmas Revels Chorus (Part 3)

Posted by Washington Revels
Get to know the people and personalities that will bring our French-Canadian winter celebration to life this December!

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All are Welcome in Our Revels Community

All are Welcome in Our Revels Community

A guest post by Katrina Van Duyn
Although I usually join in Revels’ Christmas productions as a specialty performer, in Québécois I am happy to play a more hybrid role, not exactly a chorus member (I was not hired for my soprano chops), but definitely a member of the village community onstage. So I have come to the chorus rehearsals as much as possible, and have enjoyed and learned so much from them.

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Introducing Our Directors’ Blog Series

Introducing Our Directors’ Blog Series

Posted by Washington Revels
In 2018, Washington Revels celebrates 35 years of reveling in the DC-area. This gala year will be marked by many special events, and we’re kicking things off right away with a brand-new series of blog posts for the New Year! Each month, you can look forward to hearing from one of Revels’ artistic or office staff directors, plus occasional guest posts from Revels cities around the country. These ruminations may take the form of a heartwarming letter, a thoughtful essay, or a brief note as our directors reflect on past productions, upcoming performances, inspiring rehearsals, and the magical, exuberant, and poignant intersection of Revels and modern life.

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Meet The Christmas Revels Chorus (Part 2)

Meet The Christmas Revels Chorus (Part 2)

Posted by Washington Revels
Get to know the people and personalities that will bring our French-Canadian winter celebration to life this December!

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Meet The Christmas Revels Chorus (Part 1)

Meet The Christmas Revels Chorus (Part 1)

Posted by Washington Revels
Get to know the people and personalities that will bring our French-Canadian winter celebration to life this December!

Read more

Shaping Revels Kids

Shaping Revels Kids

A guest post by Kat Toton

The first Revels I ever saw was the 2004 production of The King and the Fool. I saw the following year’s Northlands show and somehow (although I don’t remember doing it) signed up for the mailing list. When the audition notice came out in 2006, I decided to try it and I’ve been with Revels ever since! You could say that I fell in love. I’ve been an adult Chorus member in 5 shows, did makeup for the 2008 Québécois show, and have been the kids’ Music Director since 2010.

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