"Improvising Together: A Listening and Playing Workshop for Dancers and Musicians led by dancer Sheri Cohen and musician David Knott. We’ll use listening practices and interactive scores to illuminate the material shared between musicians and dancers and make our improvisations clearer and richer." from the Wayward Music Seattle Website
Commentary heard during the workshop (not exact quotes!):
“This is the first workshop of this type where I’ve seen babies allowed. It gives it a whole different, and beautiful, atmosphere. (That particular little one there) is really getting involved, though he’s getting a really distorted picture of what it is to be a grown-up.”
“Lots of little stories emerged (during the group improvisation). I liked the part where one dancer on the floor grabbed the left foot of another dancer on the floor, and held on. It was like a struggle.”
“I found that, with the music, I could listen to what was happening and then I had three choices: play something similar, play something different, or play nothing.”
“There’s a concept in Tibetan Buddhism that expands on those ideas: after observing what is happening, one has the choice to do the same, do something different, do nothing, do something supportive, or do something destructive.”
“...At a certain point, the piece didn’t need me. So I withdrew. Then I was thinking about going back in, but was hesitant – am I really needed at this point? – but then one of the musicians came up behind me with some loud, strident notes and then I knew that it was time to start again.”
“There was a long point in the middle where the music all came together. It was serene and beautiful. It was in B-flat for quite a while.”
“It was in B-flat and nice and pretty and new-agey, so I decided to kick it up a notch and add some dissonance.”
“For the record, I never played in B-flat.”
“What does all this discussion of B-flat mean to the dancers? There’s nothing in the repertoire of dance movements that corresponds to something like B-flat, just as there’s nothing in the world of music that corresponds to this.” (moves arm)
“I beg to disagree. There are languages that both dancers and musicians share. If I were to play this,” (plays a swinging jazz riff) “the dancers would dance in a certain way.” (They did).
“One of the interesting things about a workshop for improvised dance and music together is that it gives permission: I’m seeing musicians do things with movement, and dancers making sounds.”
“Improvisations involving more than one person grow more complex as one learns. For example, two dancers may improvise in unison by both doing the same movement,” (sitting, two dancers move feet in the same way) “but then make gestures that are related but not the same.” (The same two move their feet in slightly different ways).
“Some things were going on that only one or two people could see. I liked it when I saw you, dancing by yourself, over there by the ramp.”
“There is a continuum between improvising and composing. I have a long piece that I’ve been working on for years, playing individual notes on the piano for long stretches of time. Sometimes it seems like it’s completely composed, since I’ve put severe limitations on what I can actually play. Other times, it’s completely improvised second by second.”
"There was a little tension - a thickened plot - made by the fact that there were three pianists and only one piano."
“Dancers and musicians have something like a clock in their head. There are twenty minutes left; I think we’ll all know exactly when that twenty minutes is done.”
Evan Woodle (drums) & Mike Gamble (electric guitar; Portland)
Favorite moment: sudden quiet. Evan played miscellaneous metal pieces that are sitting on a towel (a subtle clatter); build-up with guitar gradually fading back in.
Steve Barsotti (home-mades/field recordings), James Falzone (clarinet), Arrington de Dionyso (woodwinds)
Favorite moment: theatricality. Twice during the performance, Arrington picked up a homemade instrument made from plumbing (a single mouthpiece but two sounding pipes; something of a mutant, bagless bagpipe) and then proceeded to NOT play it. Suspense – we all wanted to hear it – in this case, suspense with no payoff. A dream deferred is a dream lost – a tragedy of denied expectation played out on stage.
Heather Bentley (viola/violin), Catherine Lee (oboe; Portland), Lisa Cay Miller (piano; Vancouver BC), Bonnie Whiting (percussion)
Favorite moment: simplicity. The piece came to a false end, and all the effects were left behind. Lisa started playing lush post-impressionist chords, while Heather played a viola melody that slowly simplified itself until there were just three notes left.
Douglas Ewart (woodwinds; Minneapolis) w/ Steve Barsotti (home-mades/field recordings), Heather Bentley (viola/violin), Lori Goldston (cello)
Favorite moment: all of it.
A Final Note
To the guy at the "merch mart" who bought two of my CD's and then disappeared while I was getting your change, contact me. I owe you six bucks.