Sunday, October 16, 2005

DC Improv Festival: DJ Matis

Last night, I performed in a concert called "Breaking the Sound Barrier" -- part of this year's DC International Improvisation Festival. The program included dance and movement work that incorporated text in various ways.

I am working on a project this season with Jane Franklin Dance that includes work by several local poets. This was the first performance of material from this project -- still very much in-progress. The piece features a poem by Rueben Jackson called "Leroy." I'm not sure that I've made the right choice... it seems too obvious, but the text really seemed to want samples from old soul records, so that's what I've been working with. I made seven loops and then programmed a patch in Audiomulch so I can juggle them with some other signal processing in real-time. This seemed to work out ok, but I'm still not convinced that it's the right approach. Maybe after we start working on some other pieces in the series, I'll see how it feels in context of the larger work.

I also had a last minute surprise, helping out dancer / poet / performance artist / diva, Holly Bass, with her piece. (Holly doesn't appear to have her own website, but for a glimpse at some of her work, try here, here, and here) For her piece in the show, she wanted to use a radio program that was only available as streaming audio - so she enlisted my help to burn it to cd. Ok, no problem. Then at the theater, it was revealed that there were three other sound cues and some crossfades that needed to happen - and the sound system at Joy of Motion wasn't going to cut it (they only have one CD player). So, I put all the cues onto my laptop and threw together another Audiomulch patch... and now I've had the pleasure of doing sound for one of Holly's pieces. The piece is called "America" and includes two poems, one by Lucille Clifton: "Cruelty" (click here and scroll down a bit for the complete text), and "I, too" by Langston Hughes. Sandwiched between these two poems, is a radio piece about the Pledge of Allegiance (you can listen here) cut up with an Aretha Franklin song.

Besides Holly's piece, I thought another stand-out was a text/movement improvisation by Wendy Woodson. This doesn't really tell you anything, but it felt like part Laurie Anderson, part Emo Phillips, part Stephen Wright - kind of a stream of consciousness storytelling - that wasn't about the story, but had a continuous narrative thread (kind of like a Jim Jarmusch movie) - but as a dance piece. Actually, that's probably the worst description ever of her work but anyway, if you have a chance to see her perform it's worth the trip.

No comments: