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To Do or Not To Do

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- December 01, 2012
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The Public Decides:
Composer’s Voice
Dance Collaboration:
Erin’s Thoughts

Erin Bomboy, Rachel (Rae) Charles,  and Samantha Parsons

While sipping margaritas with a thickly salted rim and scooping up silky guacamole with tortilla chips the size of compact discs, my friend Rob Voisey and I discussed the role music plays in dance. Specifically, how does the presence of music affect movement? I thought the influence was significant, but was not sure. Numerous choreographers see music as something to be added at the last minute along with costumes and lighting. It is not unusual for choreographers to create a full work without music, due to a dearth of time, money, or desire. Sometimes, choreographers abandon the idea of music in favor of an aural soundscape that chirps and buzzes in the background. Music becomes something you move through, not move to. This stands in contrast to the standard classroom experience, which usually features tonal, metered music. While not all dance teachers craft their phrases to coincide with musical counts, a distinct feeling of dancing to the music pervades. Like many dancers I know, I came to dancing through a love of music. Using my body to reflect music seemed to be as close as one could get to heaven.

The philosophical conversation led to the Composer’s Voice Dance Collaboration. Creating not just the movement, but also the music that accompanied it, triggered a desire to continue my investigation into the relationship between music and dance.

While chatting with Rob about the possibility of curating a Composer's Voice concert, I brought up the importance of the audience. Most art is created in a vacuum and then presented to the public in a fully realized form. But what if the audience hates it? Wouldn’t it be helpful to get their opinion before spending months working on something that is ultimately rejected, or worse – ignored? I know some artists have a knee jerk reaction to caring less what the audience thinks. I've heard some comment, “what do they know?” But I care. I want people to see my work. I want some to feel enriched by my viewpoint. I want the audience to be a vocal part of my process. Maybe this is selfish on my part. Perhaps it makes me less of an artist, but I don't care.

RRachel (Rae) Charles and Samantha Parsons

Thus, the Composer's Voice Dance Collaboration: the Public Decides was born with the intent to investigate the relationship between music, movement, and the audience. Rob and I hashed out a feasible plan. I would release a call for unfinished scores, select five, and premiere the same choreography to the five compositions, and let the audience vote on their favorite. To encourage a wide range of opinions, we would place videos online for voting. The composition that garnered the most votes would be awarded a prize. The composer would finish their piece, and I would complete the choreography. The final product would premiere as part of Movement Research’s Open Performance Series.

It proved to be a compelling process choreographing without music. Sometimes I felt empowered creating movement without aural parameters. Often, I felt lost. Without musical cues available to provide emotional heft, I had to find a way for the movement to convey both form and function. This is difficult when you are a newish choreographer. An unseasoned movement-maker like me can use music to round out choreography and provide much needed context and structure. During our rehearsals, which spanned six short weeks, I constructed the movement, spacing, and dynamics through personal improvisation, and left the rest to the dancers' intuition, knowing once the votes were in and the winner announced, I could go back and rework the choreography to fit the final composition.

Rachel (Rae) Charles and Samantha Parsons

My worry was watching the same choreography five times in a row would be irritatingly fatiguing for the audience. This proved to be unfounded; the performance was a lovely show for all involved. The audience was enthusiastic. They took their responsibilities seriously, voting with care and providing thoughtful feedback. I found their gracious participation touching and humbling. They know so much.

Composer's Voice Dance Collaboration continues. Videos are online for voting and commenting. You can read why the five semifinalist compositions were selected. The show indicated that people have definite opinions about their favorites. It excites me to have people feel strongly about their choice.

Right now, I am eager to get back into the studio at the conclusion of the voting. The piece-which currently exists as a half-finished, semi-formed thought-will solidify based on the music you chose. I cannot wait to see how it all turns out. Please vote if you haven’t yet!

Thank you for being part of my process. And many, many thanks to Rob Voisey and Douglas DaSilva for allowing me the time and space to play.

Rob Voisey, Rachel (Rae) Charles, Erin Bomboy, Samantha Parsons, and David Morneau

To Do or Not To Do

Visit the American Composer Timeline. If you are an American composer and not on the timeline, submit your name birth date and web link. AND while you are at it, maybe you should add your name to Wikipedia as well:
How many composers are there? 200-300? Ridiculous! I think there are more composers on the 60x60 wiki-page!

Ahhhh, well... guess I will go back to eating cake.


Calendar of Vox Novus Events


Two Performances Sunday!
60x60 Dance
and My Dad's Violin on Composers Voice!

60x60 Dance (2011) Athena Mix Mix at Central Michigan University

60x60 Dance (2011) At 2:00 pm (central time)
Central Michigan University
Moore Hall, in the Kiva
Mt. Pleasant, Michigan 48859

For the first time ever, Central Michigan University will host 60x60 Dance performance on Sunday, December 9th at 2:00 p.m. in the Kiva in Moore Hall.

60x60 Dance pairs 60 audio works to 60 dances.

This 60x60 Dance performance is presented by composer Jay Batzner and Heather Trommer-Beardslee as the dance coordinator. Sabrina Pena Young is the audio coordinator for the 60x60 (2011) Athena Mix.

“Students from my dance composition class, have created this performance as a class project,” Communication and Dramatic Arts Faculty Heather Trommer-Beardslee said. “They have learned about the choreographic process by creating 60 separate one-minute dances set to 60 one-minute pieces of music, and what they have done is incredible.”

Trommer-Beardslee said Batzner came to her with the idea of putting on this performance and they have been collaborating ever since.

“We wanted to make a connection to the music and dance programs here at CMU because they are typically separate,” Batzner said.

Trommer-Beardslee said she is excited for this opportunity to work on this performance.

“There is nothing else like it, students will have never seen anything like this before,” Batzner said. “It is very abstract.”

Trommer-Beardslee said it is not a competition, and the show is meant to be seen and enjoyed for a good time.

The 60x60 (2011) Athena mix is the first 60x60 mix to be comprised of all women composers, musicians and sound artists.

Original Press release by Katelyn Sweet at Central Michigan University can be found here

Composers in the 60x60 (2011) Athena Mix inlcude:
Liana Alexandra, Ellen Band, Alexandra Von Bassen, Eve Beglarian, Kari Besharse, Rose Bolton, Sarah Boothroyd, Susan Ann Brewster, Ann Cantelow, Eliska Cilkova, Cindy Cox, Molly Gene Crain, Soressa Gardner, Melissa Grey, Elizabeth Clare Guthrey, Motoko Honda, Yoko Honda, Brenda Hutchinson, Mary Jane Leach, Lynn Job, Michiko Kawagoe, Laura Kramer, Joan La Barbara, Monica Law, Hye Kyung Lee, Elainie Lillios, Annea Lockwood, Sylvi MacCormac, Pamela Marshall, Angela McGary, Kathy McTavish, Jennifer Bernard Merkowitz, Tricia Minty, Miss Diamond DJ, Margaret Hosmer Noble, Julia Norton, Pauline Oliveros, Mariko Otake, Milica Paranosic, Emilie Payeur, Maggi Payne, La Cosa Preziosa, Bettie Ross, Anna Rubin, Marilinda Santi, Margaret Schedel, Daria Semegen, Alex Shapiro, Judith Shatin, Alice Shields, Nivedita ShivRaj, Mary Simoni, Laurie Spiegel, Asha Srinivasan, Anabella Ugena, Vulva Underground, Elizabeth de Vegt, Jing Wang, Sally Williams, and Sabrina Pena Young Concert Program of the 60x60 (Athena Mix):

My Dad's Violin
Composer's Voice

Sunday December9th, 2012 1:00 PM
Jan Hus Church
351 East 74th Street
New York City

More than 20 violinists playing one-minute works on Douglas DaSilva Dad's Violin!

My Dad's Violin

Many years ago (1940’s) in North-Eastern Brazil, my Uncle Zé, gave my father a generous gift. My father had mentioned that he would love to study violin; but being a student in the seminary he had no money to buy one. Tio Zé gave my Dad a violin (Breton, crafted in France, circa 1820). How this violin ended up in rural Brasil in the 1940’s and how my uncle had the means to purchase it is a mystery that I hope to someday unravel. My father brought this violin with him to America where he briefly studied at Peabody Conservatory and kept it with him through jobs, marriage and children. A few years ago my father put me in charge of this family heirloom.

While in my charge, I have asked violinists to try it out so that I could hear what it should sound like. It has a warm, full sound. In April 2011, I asked violinist Greg Durozel if he wouldn’t mind trying out my Dad’s violin while I filmed him. When I showed this 55 second video to my Dad the next night, he was brought to tears and insisted that I burn a DVD of it so that he could share it with his brother Zé (age 90+) in Brazil that coming August, 2011.

My Dad's Violin

This sparked the idea that I could make a more significant DVD by filming a whole bunch of violinist playing this violin. So did: I recorded some great violinists performing on My Dad's Violin: Lynn Bechtold; Greg Doruzel ; Ari Isaacman-Beck; Shem Guibbory; Josh Henderson; Hayne Kim; Conway Kuo; Bin Lu; Jessie Montgomery; Kurt Nikkanen; Paul Peabody; Suzie Perelman; Daniel Reed; Michael Roth; Andrew Schaw ; Curtis Stewart; Stefanie Taylor; and Shelby Yamin .

I filmed in apartments, churches, backstage at concert halls, street corners, Central Park and in front of the Bartok plaque on the Upper West Side.! In August 2011, in Brazil I surprised my father, his brother and our families with the video. There were speeches, tears, toasts and hugs!

It is my goal to continue on this path and get as many violinists as possible to share in this project. It is much more than a “music video” but a way to celebrate 86+ years of brotherhood

My Dad's Violin

Many people were touched by this project and enthusiastically encouraged me to make a “proper” documentary.

So, this is the creative journey that I am embarking on. – Douglas DaSilva

My Dad's Violin
Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Fifteen Minutes of Fame
call for works

60x60 Dance

60x60-Call for Dancers

60x60 Dance is seeking choreographers and dancers of all styles and genres to participate in the upcoming 60x60 Dance event in Toronto on Sunday March 10 at 8 p.m.

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