on dancing while playing the cello (part 3: Performers as Co-Creators)…

A recent piece by  Sugar Vendil titled Performers as Co-Creators at NewMusicBox discusses a current piece using musicians as dancers and brings up many of the issues I’ve discussed in my previous two installments of this on dancing while playing the cello series. The Nouveau Classical Project is developing a piece, Potential Energies, which will premiere in Brooklyn at BAM Fisher on May 29.

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on dancing while playing the cello…

Jon Silpayamanant as Shiva before performing with his dance/music duo, Secondhand, in Newport.  March 30, 2013
Jon Silpayamanant as Shiva before performing with his dance/music duo, Secondhand, in Newport, Kentucky. March 30, 2013

Even though my first formal entry into dancing with the cello was nearly a year ago when I worked with my dance/music project, Secondhand, it was in a performance where I played the role of a cello playing Shiva. Since Shiva is the “Lord of the Dance” my role with my artistic partner, Celeste, was a counterpoint to her role as a dancing Kali.

Back in 1996 I almost took an audition with Tales & Scales, a Musictelling company which involved the musicians telling stories for children while dancing and speaking the roles of their characters–if a member/character wasn’t actively speaking or doing a demanding dance number, then the member would be playing their instrument as accompaniment to the story. Often the dancing and choreography involved playing while dancing. Cellist, David Eby, had been a company member until the ’94-’95 season and presumably – had I taken and won the audition – I would have filled his role since many of the productions are designed for the instrumentalists at hand.

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Camera Lucida: Interactive Video/Music and Dance

Dancer/Performance Artist, Jamie Lynn Smith testing out her costume with the video projections at a Camera Lucida rehearsal.  December, 2012.
Dancer/Performance Artist, Jamie Lynn Smith testing out her costume with the video projections at a Camera Lucida rehearsal. December, 2012.

In a previous post I talked about one of my latest projects, a Community New Music group called the Mothership Ensemble.  This post is about another new project I also co-founded with Roxell Karr.  We call ourselves Camera Lucida, and it’s an artistic collaboration incorporating live interactive video and music for dancers and movement artists.  One of the big inspirations motivating us in doing this is by an Australian Modern/Experimental Dance troupe, Chunky Move–especially a piece they do with interactive video, called Mortal Engine.

While we haven’t gotten to the level of sophistication of what Chunky Move do, we are having a blast exploring the genre and live performance software (mainly Isadora) and hardware.  While I don’t deal specifically with the video side, both Roxell and I constantly talk about ideas and experiment with them as he gets new equipment.  Since we work with dancers and movement artists we also do alot of brainstroming with them before events (or after, as the case may be).

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