Porcupine Saves the Dance
Porcupine Saves the Dance is a narrated chamber music concert for children, with original music and story. It is the tale of a porcupine who can’t find a dance partner, for obvious reasons. The estimated length of the program is 30 minutes.
Children participate throughout, learning musical concepts such as theme, rhythm, pitch, and how music can create images and emotion. They also learn a few lessons about friendship, challenges, and life.
Porcupine’s chamber group is made up of professional level performers (most are South Carolina Philharmonic Orchestra members). The instruments are clarinet, percussion, piano, and cello. Actor Robin Gottlieb, a former teacher and specialist in children’s performances, provides the narration.
Porcupine hears music playing on an old Victrola. He follows the sound into the woods, where a dance is going on. All his friends are there. He approaches them one by one, seeking a partner:
His friend Blowfish is afraid he’ll be punctured and go flying away like a balloon.
The Squirrel Sisters say he’s a prickly third wheel.
His friend Woodpecker is willing to dance, but when he moves his wings, he can’t stay on the dance floor.
Discouraged and embarrassed, Porcupine plops down on a rock—that turns out to be his friend Turtle. Turtle is ready to dance, because nature has provided him with his own needle-proof vest. So Turtle and Porcupine dance a sloooow waltz and have a fine time…until…the music stops!
The needle on the Victrola has broken. The animals cry out: who can save the dance? Porcupine steps forward, plucks one of his needles, and repairs the Victrola. The music begins again.
Porcupine has saved the dance. Now everyone wants to be his partner. But he sticks by his loyal, though slow, friend Turtle. And sometimes, when the music is fast, he just dances by himself. And has a fine time doing it.
In addition to entertaining children, the piece also introduces them to a number of musical concepts such as high versus low (pitch) and fast versus slow (tempo).
At the beginning of the story, each instrument in the ensemble is identified. As the story progresses, each character is introduced with his own theme. Children learn to associate characters with their themes, and they also hear those themes vary to reflect the mood of the character within a scene. Various musical styles are also presented. For example, The Squirrel Sisters dance the samba and Turtle is associated with a waltz.
Composers Ayala Asherov Kalus and Gordon (Dick) Goodwin and writer Jenny Maxwell created Porcupine Saves the Dance. These collaborators are as varied as Porcupine’s friends—but much nicer to each other.
Download /files/Dance T+P.mp3
Download /files/squirle sisters.mp3
Download /files/Wood Pecker.mp3
Download /files/PorcupineDances alone.mp3