Strike Time Dance Theatre, one of Hope’s two pre-professional dance companies, recently wrapped up filming for “The Adventures of Adela: Galapagos Girl,” the new children’s show that they produced this fall.
The show was created as a part of the company’s outreach work to expose children in the community to the arts. Normally, the main way that the company is able to connect with kids in the community is by touring around to local elementary schools with an educational dance show. However, new restrictions due to COVID-19 have prevented the company members from being able to perform in-person.
According to Strike Time’s director, Nicole Flinn, it was for this reason that the decision was made to undertake the production of what is essentially a children’s TV special that will be sent out to teachers at these schools.
“We can’t reach children, yet we still know that more than ever they need the arts in some kind of experience to continue learning and growing,” Flinn said.
The show is based on the main character of the children’s picture book “Galapagos Girl,” which is this year’s book for the Little Read Lakeshore. According to the page on the Hope College website dedicated to the program, “The Little Read Lakeshore program brings together young readers and their families, along with other adults invested in the literary lives of children, around one book for the purposes of reading, discussing and exploring the humanities themes of the book.”
This is the second year that Strike Time has partnered with the Little Read in creating their show. Last year was the first time they did this, and the show told the story of the book “The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet.”
However, unlike last year, Strike Time’s show does not follow the exact narrative of the book. “The Adventures of Adela” takes place in the same unique setting as the book: the Galapagos Islands. It also features the book’s main character, Valentina, a girl who grows up on the Island of Floreana learning to care for the islands and all of the animals that live on them. But Strike Time’s version follows Valentina when she is an adult living on the island as a naturalist guide and her interactions with a young girl named Adela who is visiting the islands.
Members of the company began working over the summer to start building the framework for the show. A big element that was tackled during this time was the script, which was written by the students in the company.
One key part of the story is Valentina introducing Adela to all of her animal friends on the islands. There were also multiple dances that the students did as these animals. That meant that the students had to do research on the species they were portraying.
“Specifically for me, I worked on the sea lions’ dance. So I had to do a lot of video research, a lot of Nat Geo kind of stuff, to figure out how they moved and then figure out how to make people move like they move,” said junior Vivien Mickles, who played the role of Adela.
Looking into the characteristics of some species native to the islands was only one aspect of their research. Another important step was speaking with Valentina Cruz, the woman who the original character of Valentina was based on.
“We did have her [Valentina] read each of our episodes, which was very helpful, because we had some of our content not as accurate as we had thought in our own research. So she was very pivotal,” Flinn said.
From background research to choreography, the students in the company were involved with each step of the process. Exposing the dancers to all aspects of producing a show is a big part of what Strike Time is about.
“Students are the heart of the program,” Flinn said. “Our goal is to provide a structure and a framework and let them fill in the spaces as to what that would look like. So, the student voice is highly, highly sought after.”
Strike Time allows the company members the opportunity to learn about parts of the dance world that they may not have previously been exposed to. Creating a dance for camera show was a new experience for many of the dancers.
“This was actually my first dance for camera experience. It was a lot of fun. It was a lot more technical than I was expecting it to be, just because we had to do things so many different times from so many different angles,” Mickles said. “It was a very cool experience to see how the behind the scenes of making a TV show all works.”
Even Flinn had not worked on a project like this previously, so it was a learning experience all around. A big takeaway for Flinn was thinking about how choreography presents differently on camera and the need to choreograph with the medium for presentation in mind.
Such a big undertaking could not have been accomplished alone. With relatively little knowledge of shooting and editing a film like this, the company called in individuals with more experience in these areas. Flinn said that this collaboration is a part of what makes the project so special.
“We’ve had so many contributors to this project all coming from a different lens and a different expertise and a different creative element. So I think what’s really awesome will be to see how we all connect and layer the experience,” Flinn said.
Flinn and the dancers are all excited to see the final product of their hard work and how it has evolved from when they began. Even more than that, though, Flinn is excited for the elementary students to watch the show and be able to go on their own adventure with the characters.