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Dancing Diablo Studio Animates 11 Shorts for Sesame Workshop

Sesame Workshop  (New York, NY), the nonprofit educational organization, commissioned the talented folks at the DUMBO-based Dancing Diablo Studio (DDS) who designed and produced eleven short animated films, ten for international distribution and one for the US market. Get Up and Grow, Snake in Snow, Home Sweet Home, Cat and Mouse, Counting Snake, Shaping Rivalry, Monkey Mosaic, Fish Mosaic, Owl Mosaic, and Frog Mosaic will be inserted into half-hour programming created for the international market. The 11th short, La Abuela, will  roll into a one-hour domestic Sesame Street show sometime in April. 

?Sesame Workshop came to us looking for innovative and engaging educational content to be inserted into their programming, explained Dancing Diablo Chairman/Creative Director Beatriz Helena Ramos, ?They have a specific curriculum and know precisely what they need to achieve. We proposed a number of concepts, they chose eleven that suited their purposes and then, together, we set about creating the animations. This was our first collaboration with Sesame Workshop and it was a wonderful experience. They encouraged us and gave us the freedom to experiment. The pieces were so diverse and wonderful that we were able to create a special reel out of the many animations we designed and executed for them. 

On working with Dancing Diablo Sesame Workshops Assistant Vice President of International Production Lisa Annunziata said, Dancing Diablo ?got us. They were sensitive to our needs and the needs of our audience. Animations created for our young viewers need to be, at once, entertaining and easy enough for children to follow and understand.  The Dancing Diablo team   has a great sensibility and I really try to tap into their special cultural flavor whenever possible. They have a strong background in the Latin community and it brings an added dimension to this international work. They are wonderful people easy to work with, accommodating and tremendously talented.  I knew it from the day I first met them. 

Sesame Workshop Producer Frank Campagna added, The hardest part of working with us is working with our curriculum goals. Each segment has to entertain and educate - the two do not always go together easily. We ask a lot of the people we work with, and were nitpickers. Dancing Diablo quickly learned our ways, worked with our educational curriculum - which is not easy and executed beautiful animations. They always hit the mark in both areas. 

Get Up and Grow was conceived by Dancing Diablos Peter Sluszka and designed by Beatriz Ramos.  Her wordless animation looks much like an illustration, a moving painting. Striving for a fresh look, Ramos limited the motion of the animation and emphasized the design and colors of the piece. In this animation, a dying houseplant is rescued by a diffident young girl who places it on a table in a sunny window, feeds it both light and water, and watches it revive and grow a beautiful blossom. In turn she is rewarded by the potted plant which reaches into the refrigerator and pours a glass of juice for her then opens the front door sending her out into the sunshine to play.

?I wanted this short to be unique, to have more of my own voice. I have been working in color for a long while and I love bright colors mixed with subdued gray tones. This animation was created with acrylics and crayons and I love the strange color combinations and the spontaneity which I think is quite visible in the line quality and the textures of the piece, Ramos explained. 

For Snake in Snow, Peter Sluszka created the concept, built the sets and lensed the complex, time-intensive, and wordless stop-motion claymation short which he shot entirely in camera.  Our hero snake, clad in a stylish turtle neck sweater, frolics in the wintry landscape, encountering, as he goes, a wise old owl, a snowman and a lovely daffodil, and draws the likeness of each with his body as he makes his way through the white terrain.  Eventually, the warmth of the sun melts the snow and, as our hero comes upon a lovely patch of flowers which have grown in the likeness of the sun itself, the sun rises appreciatively in the background.   

For Home Sweet Home Director Mike Lapinski created the concept.   Dancing Diablo enjoys working with mixed media and digitally fashioned four different environments into which they composited their froggy built of clay. Accompanied by a voiceover in English, Home Sweet Home finds Mr. Frog hopping through the environments trying to find his domicile.  First seen jumping on a bed, we know he doesnt live here people do; he bounces into the sky, but frogs cant fly; a trip to outer space, even with a helmet, is obviously the wrong choice; but a happy froggy does eventually find his way to his pond and the lily pad that is his home. 

For the wordless Cat and Mouse, Director Reginald Butler wanted a traditional approach and designed the concept and look of the short using 2D Flash animation. The piece is digitally drawn, frame-by-frame, directly in Flash. Butler painted backgrounds using acrylics as texture fused with digital transparent overlays, after which the characters were colored in the computer. In Cat and Mouse the arch rivals vie for the Lego pieces they are using to build their individual fantasy projects.  The two run back and forth stealing pieces from one another until they accidentally crash into the cats creation, demolishing it.  But the mouse has an idea, whispers it to the cat, who agrees, and the two combine their energies, feverishly collaborating on a project that satisfies them both!   In addition to these four films, Counting Snake, Shaping Rivalry, Monkey Mosaic, Fish Mosaic, Owl Mosaic, and Frog Mosaic  were also created by Dancing Diablo for the international market. 

An 11th short, the heartfelt and bi-lingual La Abuela (The Grandmother), was created for Sesame Workshop and US distribution.  In it a childs drawing, created for his  ?Abuelita in Mexico, slowly animates onto the screen as the youngsters voice tells of the beautiful sky above his grandmothers home and her garden filled with the vegetables and spices - the corn, tomatoes, cilantro and oranges - she grows and uses in her cooking. Through his drawing we are also introduced to Carmen, her kitty and the grandmother he holds so dear.

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Related Keywords:Dancing Diablo Studio, Sesame Workshop , Beatriz Helena Ramos


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