DANCE

Create your own MOONFEST Dancefest from original choreography based on references to or inspired by the moon. Suggestions for original choreography:

  • A dance describing the elliptical orbit of the moon around the Earth, the affect on tides as both orbs keep spinning, and how this precludes us from seeing the far side of the moon
  • A tap performance to Van Morrison's "Moondance"
  • A jazz performance of Michael Jackson's moonwalk to Dr. John's song "Such A Night"
  • A ballet describing the dangerous and demanding rendezvous of the Lunar Module and the Control Module on ascent and docking. (This maneuver is actually described by NASA as an "orbital ballet" in the Apollo Flight Journal.)
  • A dance piece describing the distance between Earth and our moon, which varies because the moon's orbit around Earth is an ellipse.
  • A folk dance derived from native myth, fairytale or rite. (According to African Bantu tribal rites, for example, on the first new moon after a new mother resumes menses, tribe members throw the infant in the air and then place it on a bed of ashes. Only then is the father allowed to touch the child.)

Below are synopses of ballets and dance performances spanning cultures and continents:

  • Kaguyahime ("The Moon Princess") Choreographed by Jiri Kylian. Based on a Japanese fairytale, performed by Nederlands Dans Theater. The Moon Princess descends to Earth and resides with a family of bamboo cutters. Although her beauty is meant to evoke serenity and happiness, rivalry for her attentions provokes a war.
  • Temptations of the Moon Choreographed by Martha Graham to Bartok's "Dance Suite, Op. 77," inspired by ancient Egyptian lore. The dance involves the seduction a female dancer, representing the crescent moon, by a male dancer, representing the velvet night.
  • Moon Water By Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Theater. Choreographed by Lin Hwai-Min to Bach's "Six Suites for Solo Cello." Fuses Eastern philosophy and tai chi movements with European influences. The title of the dance originates from a description of the perfect tai chi mental state and a Buddhist proverb.
  • The Ramayana Epic Dancers, musicians and artists present this historic drama on and around the full moon from May to October. A thousand-year-old temple provides the backdrop for a story of Hindu derivation involving gods, monkeys, mortals, beautiful women and a giant--to the beat of drums and music of the gamelan. Originally Indian, the drama is now also central to the Indonesian, Thai and Myanmar (Burmese) cultures.
  • Borreguita and the Coyote A children’s ballet choreographed by Paul Vasterling to Spanish guitar music by John Pell. Borreguita, a little lamb, outwits a coyote in this story, based on a Mexican folk tale that features a dancing moon and mountain.
  • Thabol Chongba ("Moonlight Jump") Involves circle dancing by hundreds of adolescent Indian boys and girls to the music of flutes, cymbals and drums at the instant of moonrise.

Dance companies in the U.S. have drawn from the rich well of North American popular, rock, jazz and Cajun music.

  • Which One Is Pink Choreographed by Jin-Wen Yu. A multimedia work inspired by and using music from Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon."
  • UP Choreographed by James Canfield for the Oregon Ballet Theatre. Sets seven dances to seven versions of Rogers and Hart's "Blue Moon."
  • MOON Choreographed by Jennifer Mulle. Set to multiple versions of "Blue Moon."
  • Memphis Choreographed by Trey McIntyre for the Ballet Memphis to the music of some of that city's biggest artists. Works include "Blue Moon" by Elvis Presley.
  • Under A Cajun Moon Slated for 2004, dancers from Cutno Dance and the Augusta Ballet will perform to Cajun zydeco and jazz provided by members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Ensemble.

See also Dark Side of the Moon, choreographed for the New York stage by Alvin Ailey in 1958, the same year he formed his acclaimed company; Moon of the Falling Leaves, choreographed by Peter Pucci and based on Native American themes set to music by Mohican composer Brent Michael Davids, and Sister Moon, choreographed by Richard Gray to Sting's song of the same title.


If you use one of the previous suggestions — or are developing a dance event of your own — contact MOONFEST. We’ll consider posting your event as an official MOONFEST Event on this web site.


Detail from Tabula Selenographica
("Map of the Moon")
Johann Baptist Homann, 1730

"Pagdiwata," or "Thirteenth Moon"

In August 2003, in conjunction with MOONFEST's inaugural year, The Bayanihan National Folk Dance Company of the Philippines (the Bayanihan) performed a piece derived from the Pagdiwata, a seven-day rite of the Tagbanua tribe in Palawan City on the island of Mindanao. It's based on the belief that on the occasion of a thirteenth moon, three goddesses descend from the heavens, become priestesses and join villagers in celebration, blessing the planting of the rice fields.

The piece was taught to the Bayanihan by Carmen de Jesus Tiglao, choreographer and founder of the Baile Foundation of the Philippines. It was originally researched and choreographed by Lucretia Reyes Urtula. The choreography distills the Pagdiwata to a seven-minute dance performance. The three goddess-priestesses balance lighted bowls on their heads while carrying bowls in their hands. The bowls contain burning candles meant to light the villagers' way to the fields. As the goddess-priestesses dance between bamboo poles, the villagers dance around them.