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Re: dancers


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...
> Olivier