Show + Tell: Dance to the Music
Billed as a workshop, run like an illustrated chat, Show + Tell had less to say about its stated topic than I would have liked (an ongoing chat-shop problem, as far as I’m concerned) but had a few illuminating moments.
“Kick presents a behind-the-scenes look at rigorous explorations in dance and music collaboration.” I think the Kick ladies (Kara O’Toole and Crispin Spaeth) who organized the talk, must have, like me, perhaps thought there was more of a there there in terms of “rigorous explorations” in the collaborations of these three groups. When you think of artists like Phil Kline, Cardona, and Ethel working together, you might think there is something thrilling sparking between them, be curious about the process that takes a work from still and silent nothing to a physical and sonic construct.
Dear Wally Cardona took his allotted time mainly to talk about how he decided on using Kline and Ethel. It finally came out that Cardona used two pre-existing pieces Kline had written for Ethel and Kline wrote a bridge between the two that was only delivered at the dress rehearsal. It was somewhat interesting to hear about the language, the instruction that Cardona used to communicate what he wanted to hear to Kline. But basically he’d found these pieces and wanted more of same, so the piece, on the scale of close collaboration and co-creating a piece, was at the low end.
At the other end of the spectrum, locust. Amy O’Neal and Zeke Keeble of locust had less time to talk about their process. Keeble noted more than once the intuitive nature of their collaboration. He said that the duo’s main working-out dialogue concerned the conceptual armature of the piece…that when the foot hits the floor or the music sounds, that each respects the other’s contributions to both choreography and sound, that they find a great deal of agreement. But unlike the other two groups, O’Neal pointed out that they don’t draw as much of a line between the choreography and music/sound, that the two collaborators hand the baton back and forth, seeing the piece as a whole. What I wanted more of was to hear about the process of collaboration, how they communicate with each other, the language used, how they shape a piece.
Finally, we were treated to another glimpse of Linda Austin’s upcoming piece “The Edge of the Fell” (a section of it previewed at Imago earlier in the year and it will premier at Echo in October). Austin’s collaborating with Seattle-based new music composer and improvising horn-player, Angelina Baldoz. The best bit of the chat was hearing Angelina and Linda using metaphor to describe how they’re shaping the piece (“the body as landscape as well as making landscape with the body”- Austin) or what they’re aiming for: Baldoz talking about one section as being a wall of sound, that she wanted the audience to feel as if it were underwater, surrounded. It’s clear they speak the same language in creating a piece. And both Austin and Baldoz are improvisors and bring that sense of play and working out on the fly to their collaboration. Baldoz also talked about sculpting space with sound, a notion that Kline had touched on previously.
I wonder if workshop attendees hoping for a “workshop” (which implies greater participation by attendees) were disappointed by what should have been billed as a chat-shop. But hurray for process chats. Bring them on.
I have to say that another major takeaway was how exciting it is that Linda Austin is living and working in Portland, that our local talent (Austin did spend a great deal of time in NY, but she’s ours now) can stand up to anything imported.