Shadow Puppetry and Dance Meet for an Adventure in Hybrid Theater

'Mariko's Magical Mix’ is a multimedia spectacle for all ages.

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Jun 30 2016, 7:25pm

Hubbard Street 2 Dancer Natalie Leibert in Hubbard Street 2 + Manual Cinema’s Mariko’s Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

In the not-too-distant future, a girl called Mariko finds her mother’s collection of vinyls. Transported, she finds herself in a world of music and shadow, encountering strange friends, foes, and inscrutable machines alike, "to build the inner strength to confront her own demons,” and see the beauty that exists even in ordinary life. This is the plot of Mariko’s Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure, a multimedia performance choreographed by Robyn Mineko Williams that will be performed by Hubbard Street 2 at this year’s Jacob’s Pillow Festival.

Williams based the character of Mariko off her own mother. “Whenever a particular song would play on the oldies station as I was growing up, she’d reminisce to me about how she used to play the 45 on her tiny suitcase record player in her room and imagine new magical worlds and adventures,” she tells The Creators Project. It was the concept of a magical record player that sparked her idea to create a dance show for all ages.

Hubbard Street 2 Dancers Natalie Leibert, foreground, and Zachary Enquist in Hubbard Street 2 + Manual Cinema’s Mariko’s Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

The magic is brought to the performance not only by the dancers, but by Manual Cinema's expert shadow puppetry. They play with size, shade, and sound to create a fully immersive theater experience that blends perfectly with the colorful dancers on stage. “The idea to use shadow puppetry originally came from a simple belief in the beauty and magic of the medium and the potential it would have to create fantastical environments in which the dance could live,” says Williams. “The prospect of blending shadows with movement and live dance to convey an emotional trajectory as well as the possibility of the shadows and environment portraying just as much heart as the dance was thrilling to me.”

Hubbard Street 2 Dancer Natalie Leibert in Hubbard Street 2 + Manual Cinema’s Mariko’s Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Williams hopes a show like Mariko’s Magical Mix will inspire the children in her audience to pursue dance and the arts. Although the show is geared mostly towards children—Williams says she loves introducing children to dance with shows like this that include other forms of theater magic along with dance—it is a feast for the senses that will take adults on the promised dance adventure as well.  

See more photos from the show here:  

Hubbard Street 2 Dancer Natalie Leibert in Hubbard Street 2 + Manual Cinema’s Mariko’s Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Hubbard Street 2 Dancer Natalie Leibert in Hubbard Street 2 + Manual Cinema’s Mariko’s Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Hubbard Street 2 Dancer Natalie Leibert in Hubbard Street 2 + Manual Cinema’s Mariko’s Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Hubbard Street 2 Dancer Natalie Leibert, foreground, and HS2 Apprentice Oscar Carrillo in Hubbard Street 2 + Manual Cinema’s Mariko’s Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Hubbard Street 2 Dancer Katlin Michael Bourgeois in Hubbard Street 2 + Manual Cinema’s Mariko’s Magical Mix: A Dance Adventure. Photo by Todd Rosenberg.

Mariko’s Magical Mix will be performed at Jacob’s Pillow in the Doris Duke Theater July 13-17. Buy tickets here.

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