Traipsing Round the World in My Traipse Shirt

Traipse Shirt by Ivey Abitz
Traipse Shirt by Ivey Abitz

I love my Traipse shirt and its beautiful fabric of tiny knitted flowers (look closely) in a beautiful, rich black colour. It is so soft and cuddly.

It is the perfect piece to be wearing when one is visiting cuddly bears! More on the Traipse shirt in a moment. But first some background on the cuddly bears.

This May, I once again narrated a children’s show for the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. These concerts are for the youngest members of the NSO audience. (“Is there a concert for me? I’m only three!”)

The concerts are called “Teddy Bear Concerts” and the children are allowed to bring their stuffies with them. There is also an instrument “petting zoo” before the show begins, with musical instruments for the audience to play, touch, and hear. A very nifty idea, I think.

Teddy Bear Concerts come in differing programs but I like to think that our program is special, for it is the only one about bears! Through poetry, music, and visuals, we visit different bears in their native countries. The music illustrates the country. For example, “Waltzing Matilda “ represents Australia and “Reel O’ Tolloch” represents Scotland. We visit 6 countries and I, as the storyteller, use accents from each country for the poetry.

Huge pictures of the bears we are visiting are revealed as we arrive in Scotland, Peru, USA, the Arctic Circle, Bulgaria, Australia, China, and even outer space for a robot-like space bear!

The wonderful thing about this concert is that it appeals on many levels. Adults find it fascinating to learn that all the bears that we see through the program are endangered, and that there is only one bear native to South America – the Spectacled Bear. We know that Koalas are marsupials and not bears, but we don’t let too many facts spoil the image of those lovely creatures as the musicians play “Matilda” and we sing along!

I love doing these shows…so much fun! We worked very hard to make it fun and educational, and the audiences have truly enjoyed it. We did it for the first time last year at the Kennedy Center, took it on tour twice, and then once again this year at the Kennedy Center. There is talk of future performances and all of the concerts have, thus far, sold out!

It is a pleasure to bring music to children. Some even get up and dance. We go with the flow, and the musicians are a delight to work with as are our audiences. Some of the children who have heard this concert when we are on tour have never heard live music before (please see my previous blog entries).

So, where does my Traipse Shirt come in?

The first year at the Kennedy Center, I wore my ever favourite Solomon Jacket in silk weave with a black skirt. [See Lynn-Jane’s bloggings from her 2010 NSO tour.] This year for the tour and the four shows in D.C., I wanted something new from the wonderful IA collection. I had to have a new piece that would travel easily and be easy to move and dance in.

Once again, I asked Cynthia’s advice, and, as usual, her suggestion was perfect. We decided that MY Traipse would be more of a jumper. That is one of the lovely things about IA designs: the flexibility and collaboration of CIA (Cynthia) and the patron. CIA? Isn’t that funny? I call her “Couturier Cynthia Ivey-Abitz.”

At my request, her seamstress made the shirt extra large and loose. I could roll up the sleeves for our “trek,” and I wore it for all four concerts and for a few concerts on tour. It worked beautifully. Cozy, comfortable and beautiful. A lovely black knit that looked perfect on stage!

A couple of the musicians remarked that they had not noticed the pattern on the weave until they saw the shirt closer, and that it was a perfect choice, as most of their wardrobe was in blacks and greys with touches of colour. My Scottish pin of feathers and thistle added the perfect bit of colour to my shirt/ sweater and was an appropriate piece for visiting Scotland.

So, that is how I “traipsed” around the world with CIA. Not undercover, but in the Family Theatre at the Kennedy Center. What a joy!

I leave you with a few lines of the poetry from the show. Adding a bit of a Chinese inflection (little ears cannot hear subtle differences in accents and there are so many in the show, thus I suggest them only). Lots of accent work and listening to tapes as I had to “get it right.” What more could one ask for? Great work, challenging work, neat stuff for children, super audiences, and a lovely new sweater.

Have you ever seen a bear so cute?
He lives in China – a far commute.
You may take a little snooze,
While pandas play in tall bamboo!

My thanks to Paula for the lovely poetry and my colleagues, Lewis, Elizabeth, Paula, and Joe for the wonderful music.

 

Lynn-Jane Foreman
AEA SAG AFTRA
Actor/ voicework