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26 lettres à danser

A play on words

“The word WITH implies communication: being with someone, sharing a moment, a bond. It breaks our solitude. It makes connections, it humanizes us.”
Hélène Langevin, choreographer

26 lettres à danser montage

26 lettres à danser (Compagnie Bouge de là)

A frog-man tells funny fables with fantastic finesse. You guessed it: it’s the letter F’s turn! In this energetic show for four dancers, alphabet letters swarm over the stage, and words begin to sway and twirl! The letters fly by at dizzying speed, ideas pop up left and right, and a joyful imaginative whirlwind whisks us along us from A to Z.

In the heart of choreographer Hélène  Langevin, children rule, and each of her shows celebrates that fact. And what a party! She’s an expert at appealing to young spectators’ intelligence and understanding, and all in a spirit of fun.

By the way…

Inquisitive types can watch The 26-Letter Dance for free. Isn’t that great? (The performance is in French)


Credits
Conceived, directed and co-choreographed by Hélène Langevin / Rehearsal director and co-choreographer: Jean-François Légaré / With Ariane Boulet, Joannie Douville, Alexandre Parenteau and Georges-Nicolas Tremblay / Produced by Bouge de là

Did someone say abecedarium

For The 26-Letter Dance, choreographer Hélène Langevin imagined a rather special abecedarium. She wanted to create a danced version, a show where letters and words are the starting point of each scene. For example, when they see the letter A, the dancers are amazed, abashed or admiring. Ah, really? Then they boldly battle for a blue balloon with the B. Brilliant!

What exactly is an abecedarium?

Definition 

Did you notice that the word “abecedarium” contains the first four letters of the alphabet in sequence: A, B, C and D? Does this give you a clue? Go ahead, take a guess!

First and foremost, an abecedarium (also called an ABC book or alphabet primer) is a book for teaching children the letters of the alphabet. But it’s also any work whose content is arranged in alphabetical order. So you might stumble across an abecedarium while looking for information on a subject that interests you. A primer on the world’s greatest cities? on athletes who have made history? on little-known mammals? Absolutely! It’s a simple and fun way to organize information: each section of the book covers one aspect or feature of the subject, from A to Z.

Examples

Have a look at this list of popular ABC books of both kinds, for ages 3 and up!

Not to mention the authors who take great pleasure in creating all sorts of wacky ABC books! For starters, there’s P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever, and in French, there’s an Abécédaire des métiers imaginaires, an Abécédaire horrifiant et gluant, an Abécédaire des monstres… and even an Abécédaire du pet (all about farts—no kidding!).

Bonus …  

There’s no primer of lesser-known animals, but some can be found on this list of endangered and vulnerable species compiled by the World Wildlife Fund. To help you discover them yourself, here’s a fill-in-the-blank ABC for you to complete:

The human alphabet: Writing in three dimensions 

Can your body stand up as straight as an “I”? Is it as bendy as an “S”? Try it and see! On your own or in a group, have fun forming the letters of the alphabet with your body, like the talented dancers in The 26-Letter Dance. It’s amazing what you can do with a little imagination and agility.

Doing the activity in class? We challenge you to get together and create a complete word!

Looking for inspiration? Interested in going further?

View an amazing array of letters created with the human body (and other things — you’ll see!)

Psst! We want to see your masterpieces! Ask someone to take an overhead shot of you and send us a picture of your letters and  words..

Meet a choreographer: Hélène Langevin

The choreographer is the person who creates a dance performance. The choreographer’s role is to organize the movements and movement sequences in a certain order, with the purpose of conveying an idea, an emotion or a world to the audience. It’s a bit like a painter who chooses the brushes (dancers) and colours (movements, rhythm) that he or she wants to use to make them interact on the canvas (performance space).

There is no one definition of choreography and no one way to be a choreographer. So we asked Hélène  Langevin three questions to find out more! What if you could be a choreographer?

What attracted you to dance?

I played a lot of sports as a child; I was always moving. But when I took my first dance lesson at the age of 16, I was smittten! I loved moving my body in various ways, to a precise rhythm and in space. Since then, I’ve never stopped dancing.

When did you realize you’d become a choreographer?

I knew it from the moment I started my career! I preferred inventing movements to performing them, and I liked to direct the dancers — I’m a leader by nature.

You’ve been practising your craft for some time. Are you the same choreographer now as when you started?

In the 30 years I’ve been doing this job, I’ve changed a lot and dance has evolved. In the early days I would ask the dancers to imitate my movements, whereas now I lead improvisations and the dancers come up with their own movements. It’s a collaborative effort between me and the “dancer-creators”. We create together and we love it!

What does dance mean to you?

Do you dance at home?

Do you prefer dancing alone or in a group?

“Dance at home!”

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, choreographer Hélène Langevin wanted to get housebound children and families dancing. So she came up with a series of entertaining videos in which she gives creative instructions to get people moving in their living rooms. With friends, as a family, or even in the classroom, there’s always time to stretch your legs and inject a little bit of craziness or fantasy into your everyday routine. All set? Let’s get started!

DANCE AT HOME! | Theme 8: Shadows

(Note: video is in French)

26 lettres à danser (Compagnie Bouge de là)

Well, that was fun! Are you ready for another dance challenge? Enjoy the complete set of videos!

When do you dance?

Do you and your friends ever make up dance shows?

How does dancing make you feel

Juggling words and letters 

The 26 letters of the alphabet are a source of almost endless fun! Fun that could be called exponential (multiplied many times over). To start you off, here are some games to play with letters and words.

Acrostic

An acrostic is a short text (often a poem) in which the first letters of each line spell out a word or message. It sounds complicated but it’s not. Try it and see!

Write the letters of your first name in a vertical line, then beside each one write a word or phrase that describes you. It’s another way to create a portrait of yourself! In this example, we’ve used the name Linda:

L - Loyal to my friends 
I - Intelligent
N - Natural
D - Determined
A - Athletic
 

Palindrome

A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same forwards and backwards. Fun fact: The word “palindrome” comes from the Greek “palindromos”, which means “running back again”.

Race car | Kayak | Level | Mr. Owl ate my metal worm     

Challenge: Go on a palindrome hunt! Find the longest, the funniest, the one that sounds the nicest to your ears… And why not try to join the select club of palindromists (yes, there is such a thing!) by inventing a palindromic sentence of your own?

Anagram

An anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase.

Listen and silent

Eleven plus two and twelve plus one

Elbow and below

Psst! Did you know that many writers have published works under a fictitious name by mixing up the letters of their real name? Just for fun, do the same and create a pseudonym or anagram nickname for yourself! How does it sound?

Attention: Secret message to be decoded

Cryptography is the science of combining mathematics and computer science to protect information. It does this by making it seem incomprehensible by mixing it up, transforming it, in a specific way. Since ancient times, many famous people have used cryptography to send secret messages to their allies. (Julius Caesar, a great military strategist, invented one of the first cryptographic techniques, the Caesar cipher.)

Today, in our hyper-computerized world, cryptographic techniques have to be extremely sophisticated to protect users’ personal data and prevent identity theft. Extremely complex codes are used to protect your cellular and banking details, for instance!

Are you looking for a way to communicate secretly with a friend? Consider using one of the most popular cryptograms: Morse code!

Challenge: Try to decode this message. You have two minutes tops!

• • • / • / •     – • – – / – – – / • • – 
– / – – – / – • / • • / – – • / • • • • / –

Still curious?

Here are some suggestions to continue your exploration:

Additional resources


Reading list (Suggested resources are in French)

For ages 3–10  

For older children   

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