Wondrous Birds of Dance & the Song of the Nightingale

October 3, 2013

Because of their grace, beauty and symbolic presence, birds are often represented on stage.


White Feather Mask in hand moulded leather. Image: http://fav.me/d53ovi2

White Feather Mask in hand moulded leather by Shadows-Ink. Image: http://fav.me/d53ovi2

See our list below for some of the many types of birds that dancers (both male and female) have portrayed. If you can think of anything to add to our list below, please let us know!

We have also included a video of that beautiful solo “The Ostrich” choreographed by Asadata Dafora in 1932. 


Introducing a brand new production:

The Song of the Nightingale


This is a new musical based on Hans Christian Andersen’s magical story of a little brown bird who transforms the entire kingdom of China with her song. The production, which is directed, written, and composed by Min Kahng, will open on October 11th and will run through November 17th, 2013 at the Altarena Playhouse in Alameda, California.

The Title Role of  the Nightingale will be performed by San Francisco Bay Area native, Deedra Wong.

In a previous interview, Deedra (who is also one of the choreographers), describes her inspiration for this piece. That interview can be found here: Link to interview

As a dancer, Deedra Wong has had quite a versatile background.

Deedra Wong will perform as the Nightingale (Photo by Danny Beck)

Deedra Wong will perform as the Nightingale
(Photo by Danny Beck)

Deedra Wong

“I received most of my dance training at independent studios throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. I am a graduate of San Francisco School of the Arts class of 1989 under the direction of Elvia Marta (high school). My first passion was jazz dancing. I knew at age 14 I wanted to be a jazz dancer. I started out at the recreation centers in San Mateo, went to Dance Art Center (Berle Davis), Zohar School of Dance (Ehud Krauss), and Third Wave Dance today known as Dance Mission (Ramona Rhone).

My most memorable training happened at The Ailey School in NYC where I discovered the Horton Technique. I didn’t want to stay in NY so I came back and continued to study dance at the Dancer Synectics Group (Ann Barrett, Ann-Marie Garvin, Ramona Rhone). I finally met the teacher of my life, Cecilia Marta in San Francisco whom I consider the dance mentor of my life. I eventually became one of her sub teachers whenever she needed me.

Once Cecilia moved back to LA/NYC, I studied for a bit with Allan Frias (hip hop). I continue to study only ballet these days as my favorite teachers have been at The Ballet Studio in SF (Henry Berg, Sherri LeBlanc, Andre Reyes), and at the Contra Costa Ballet in Walnut Creek (Richard Cammack). I have met so many wonderful teachers in my life, but these names above have helped shape me into who I am today.”

“Although I didn’t plan it, I somehow ended up in musical theatre. The theater needs dancers and choreographers and I have been very thankful to be a working artist in the Bay Area!”


Thanks, Deedra!


Don’t miss the show!!!

If you plan to be in the San Francisco Bay Area this fall, be sure to check this out! (See details below.)

The Nightingale

Until then, here is our list of portrayed by dancers.  Send us your suggestions to be added to the list!!

  • The Blue Bird from Sleeping Beauty
  • The Canary Fairy from Sleeping Beauty
  • The Chicken Dance from La Fille Mal Gardee: video 
  • The Duck and Bird (non-specified) in Peter and the Wolf
  • The Firebird
  • The Ostrich solo choreography by Asadata Dafora (see this video below)
  • The Peacock in various styles and productions, including Pacifica Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker
  • Penguins in Daniel Bintley’s “Still Life” at the Penguin Café
  • Raven Girl – The 2013 premier by Wayne McGregor for the Royal Ballet. There are also the Ravens or Crows of Carabosse in the Sleeping Beauty.
  • The Swan in Swan Lake or The Dying Swan
Odette in Moscow Festival Ballet's Swan Lake (source: link)

Odette in Moscow Festival Ballet’s Swan Lake (source: link)


The Ostrich: A groundbreaking solo that blends traditional African dance with Western staging

“Awassa Astrige/Ostrich” (1932)

  • Choreography by Asadata Dafora
  • Music by Carl Riley
  • Performed by G. D. Harris from the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
  • Starts at the beginning of the video and ends at 3:27. Shortened version.
  • A more detailed description of this video can be found: here.

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