- November 14th, 2011
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A little while back my group the Seattle Jazz Composers Ensemble in partnership with Karin Stevens Dance received a grant from 4Culture to create a concert series around a composer/choreographer collaboration. After planning and talking and planning and talking… the project is underway!
Composers Beth Fleenor, Catherine Grealish, Stephen Fandrich, and yours truly have been paired with UMAMI Performance, Animate Objects Physical Theater, Khambatta Dance Company, and Karin Stevens Dance respectively. We are now all tasked to create a new collaborative work scored for a 9-piece band and between 2-5 different dancers per pairing.
How do 2 people go about creating a concert piece? That’s what I was asking myself as I was walking into Velocity Dance to my first meeting with choreographer Karin Stevens. That’s what we will all find out in this process. We decided before the meeting that we would start from scratch. No preconceived notions. We talked about communication and concepts and started figuring out the common language a musician and a dancer can speak. Then improvisation. We performed a series of games or improvisatory exercises to see what we can cooperatively generate and how we relate on a artistically visceral level.
Here is one of the exercises we came up with. Long Tones:
A “long tone” means a definite thing to a musician. A sustained note. What does that mean to a dancer? Is it a static pose? A slowly moving one? A mood? A certain energy level?
This process of working closely with another discipline is unlike anything I have done before. In the fledgling stages of our collaboration I discovered that Karin and I have much the same kind of energy and drive when it comes to our work. And even this early on, one of my longtime suspicions turns out to be true: composition is composition is composition regardless of discipline. I feel that in that place this composer and choreographer can easily connect. With that then comes more insight into the other discipline as the work unfolds. I’m super stoked.
Check back soon. Karin and I are meeting weekly and you to can share in this process as it unfolds. I’ll be posting video, audio and thoughts as we go. Performance will be in April 2012.