Friday, December 15, 2006

Step Afrika

Peformed at Dance Place, November 11 & 12, 2006

One of my biggest and most difficult projects of the last year wrapped up recently -- I wrote music for a new multi-media piece by Step Afrika. The piece, titled "Nxt/Step," is their first attempt to push stepping in a new, modern direction. It's put together as a long-form piece (20 minutes) which is quite unusual in stepping, and it includes hi-tech video integration. These were all new challenges for them, which only amplified the challenges for me. Most stepping doesn't include additional music - the dancers make loads of sound with their feet, hands, and voices, so there generally isn't much need or space for additional music...

Going into the project, I made some naive assumptions about stepping. I thought the rhythms would be pretty straightforward - with steady tempos, even meters, and nice symmetrical phrases. Not so. It's much more like African drumming, where each rhythm has it's own length and tempo - very different from what I'm used to, so I had to get caught up fast. My first approach was to do some live processing and looping, manipulating the sounds of the dancers. After a few rehearsals, and disappointing results, we ditched that idea. Eventually we came up with some short riffs and phrases that I could build on, and we put something together.

The piece still feels to me like a work in progress. Elements of the choreography were still changing right up through the dress rehearsal, so I had to keep several sections open (by only using live guitar music that I played along with them). For a few transitions, I had recorded cues, and some of those had some live guitar added on top. There's a good chance we'll be revisiting the piece in spring of 2007, so I'm looking forward to continuing to develop it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

DCIC and Golden Arm Trio

at DC Arts Center, 10/15/2006

We had the priviledge of sharing the bill with the fantastic Golden Arm Trio from Austin, TX. We planned on doing three pieces, but they wound up segue-ing from one to the next very nicely, so it probably sounded like we only did one long piece. Oh well. I love that the group has the ability to improvise with some structure, and then let go of or modify the structure, all together, in the moment.

GA3's set was fabulous. And we all went next door for Ethiopian food afterwards. Yum.

Let's catch up - Fall 06 dance gigs

Fall was a busy season. During September and October I performed with two dance companies. First, Daniel and I revisited our duo, "Unmapped." We performed a 10 minute version as featured guest artists on the Choreographers Collaboration Project's fall concert at the Lee Center in Alexandria. A few weeks later, I performed with Cross Currents Dance Co. as part of the Joy of Motion 30th anniversary weekend. We also revisited "Unmapped" -- Daniel created a piece for them last spring called "Unmapped 4x4" which we re-staged for this mixed program. First night I played it pretty safe, second night I cut loose and rocked out. Much better that way.