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first off, I think that's not fair to modern dancers to lump them all in a
group and judge them en masse. The same thing could be said that "loop
based musician's can't perform in real-time with a whole band and work
with tempo changes".
Sure, some of us can't, or won't, but we CAN, and DO, if we are engaged,
talented, and willing.
That being said, dancers are often very accustomed to working with canned
music. They know the piece, have rehearsed to it, and the performance is
really just a culmination of the long hours of work they've endured. And
dance is very much 'live theatre'. Anything can go wrong, and with
amateur and semi-professional groups, it often does.
(professional touring groups, too! i've seen enough modern dance over the
last 12 years to see the mistakes now...just saw a few flub ups at Ballet
Preljocaj a couple of weeks ago...dancing to canned music by 'hipsters of
the moment' AIR. Preljocaj is a top-knotch pro group...just goes to show
you no one is perfect...live theatre, remember.)
mistakes and miscues can lead to much more disastrous results than music.
Sure, flub a note...did anyone notice? Miss a complex lift and someone is
often heading to the floor, head first.
My experience this year was interesting. The piece was a 1/2 hour long,
and the dance was choreographed TO THE MUSIC. The music came first...it
was a meditative/drone/loop based composition that I performed at Y2K2.
We prepared 'backing tracks' that were basic drones, because logistics did
not allow for the musicians to perform with the dance company at all times
during the year plus that the project was choreographed and set on the
company. We came in during the later rehearsals leading up to the
Yes, a lot of the music was ambient and non-rhytmic, but there were
rhythmic parts, and musical cues, etc.
What I found most fascinating was the reaction of the dancers during those
later rehearsals and the performance. They 'knew' the backdrop...the
tonal center that we were going to work modally off of during the
performance. What they didn't really know was what we were going to do on
top of the backing tracks, since that was essentially improvised.
They loved it. They suddenly FELT the interaction. They knew we were
giving them cues, but watching them at the same time and working off of
them, too. We could all feel the energy going back and forth between the
music and movement.
Since the whole intention of the piece was a 'moving meditation' or
'prayer' per se, based on the 10 stations of the mystical kaballah, it was
great to be involved and see it come to fruition.
Now, one of the musicians, who eventually couldn't perform, was always
pushing the boundaries of "the dancers should be able to follow us more"
and "this was originally a fully improvised piece...now it's getting more
'composed'...I don't like that", etc., etc. So, the sentiments that "the
music should not detract from the dancers" was there, and it rubbed him
the wrong way.
Fine. But when people are paying 20 bucks to see a semi-professional
troupe do DANCE, they came to see dance. In any sort of theatre, it all
has to work together....so you play 'your part'. It started out as a
music composition, but it ended up being a collaboration and supportive
mechanism for movement.
Hell, we sold out the theatre. That's more than I could say if I was
promoting a 'looping trio with dancers'. "Oh, the dancers are SPOT ON
with the music though! They really know how to behave!" :)
my 2 cents too many,
> > I've done a lot of live looping with dancers, and my experience is
> > that they don't really *listen* to the music, it just happens while
> > they do their thing. Really. Maybe they're responding to it on some
> > subconscious level. I've gotten the impression that asking a modern
> > dancer to synchronize to music is received with the same enthusiasm
> > you'd encounter when asking a poet to write something that rhymes
> Well, my own experience is exactly the same...
> First time I did work for a dancing troop, I met the same behaviour.
> I was said "the music is not to convey rythmic information. The dancing
> bodies should".
> I was said "the music is not to attract attention over the dancers".
> I was also said "the music is not to convey the melodic structure. The
> dancing bodies should".
> It was a first for me, but boy, did I learn...
- Re: dancers
- From: "David Kirkdorffer" <email@example.com>