Ukrainian Eggs: Terrible Tales of Tragedy and AlleGorey, is a collection of macabre, outlandish, and often tender children's stories inspired by author and illustrator Edward Gorey. The suite includes all four of Jonathan's previous “Gorey works” including The Unsightful Nanny (2002) and The Ubiquitous Elephant (2005,) both created for the Limon Dance Company. There are five stories in all, tied together by a hapless emcee, the Nanny, himself...part Charlie Chaplin, part Mary Poppins, and part Grim Reaper. Scroll down for a full program overview, photos, and reviews.
Video Clip: Promo Reel for the Premiere at FringeNYC.
Directed by John Laboy, 2009.
The entr'acte of Ukrainian Eggs, photo by Jordan Wills, 2009.
Ukrainain Eggs: Terrible Tales of Tragedy and AlleGorey
Choreography by Jonathan Riedel
Costumes by Stacey Berman
Lighting by Jennifer Wilcox
Music: Edvard Greig, “Morning Mood” and “In the Hall of the Mountain King”
The plant-like creatures of an erudite botanical garden preen themselves for the delight of a picnicking family...before devouring them with tribal fervor.
The UnderGarden, photo by Jordan Wills, 2009.
The Upcher’s Warbler
Music: Eric Satie, “Nocturnes I-III”
Three short stories tied together by an elusive bird. First, on his way to church a young boy finds the sick bird and nurses it to health. Homeward, however, he gets caught in an ominous rainstorm. Second, a young girl discovers the bird and they proceed to sing and play. She soon meets an imposing, cat-like figure, who is potentially less friendly. Finally third, three urchins revel in muck, greed, and debauchery. Though the bird offers a postive influence...it's hard to teach the grizzled new tricks.
The Upcher's Warbler, photo by Jordan Wills, 2009
The Ubiquitous Elephant
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
A family of five meets in their parlor to play cards. An inscrutable guest enters the scene and his behavior both disturbs and fascinates them. The evening riles up until one member of the family tragically expires. Suddenly there is room at the table for another player.
"Riedel was skilled in setting up the situation, establishing the characters, developing the plot and ending with neither a bang nor a whimper but a bittersweet surprise. The tone was utterly urbane. Edward Gorey's picture stories were acknowledged as a source, yet a touch of Charles Adams could be discerned too. Wisely, Riedel resisted making a dance piece and had the cast concentrate on silent acting. The music ... served obligingly, and the upshot was delightfully minor! " -George Jackson, the DanceView Times
The Ubiquitous Elephant, photo by Jordan Wills, 2009.
The Umbra Bug
Music: Eric Satie
A sallow Grinch of a woman rants against the vivacious society party next door. The wealthy and beautiful elite must ultimately resort to impolite measures in order to continue their festivities.
The Umbra Bug, photo by Jordan Wills, 2009
The Unsightful Nanny
Music: Camille Saint-Saens
A nanny watches proudly over eight young children. His charges begin to misbehave and meet with unfortunate ends. Will the Nanny keep his cool and get all his little zombies back into place? Find out!
The Unsightful Nanny, photo by Jordan Wills, 2009
“The dance, a cautionary graveyard frolic for a Svengali-like nanny (Mr. Riedel) and eight fractious charges, is an unqualified delight in part because of its nuttily abandoned, dead-on humor…The eight characters...also give the dancers ripe dramatic material…" -Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times
“Jonathan Riedel’s creation ‘The Unsightful Nanny’, which was inspired by [Edward] Gorey’s ‘the Gashlycrumb Tinies’, is imaginative and perky, containing the essence of the artist’s unique wit…The eight dancers involved here (all appearing convincingly as preteenagers), along with Riedel in the title role, all had a whale of a good time–and so did we…Riedel would surely have pleased the late Edward Gorey with the masterful way in which he captured the artist’s aura in his choreography and performance.” –Jennie Schulman, Back Stage
"…brilliant... hysterically sinister...with an ingenuity and timing which would make Petipa jealous.” -Mary Cargill of the DanceView Times
The cast of Ukrainian Eggs, photo by Jordan Wills, 2009