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Posts Tagged ‘Troy Herion’

Composing for the Future: Interview with Troy Herion

Posted September 5th, 2017

Troy Herion is a composer and filmmaker whose works unite contemporary music with visual arts through film, theater, dance, and concert music. His  compositions range from classical and avant-garde orchestral music to intricate and melodic electronic scores. He has teamed up with Dan Rothenberg (director) and Mimi Lien (design) for Pig Iron Theatre Company‘s A Period of Animate Existence, which has been dubbed “a work of symphonic theater” and premieres at the 2017 Fringe Festival. Period is structured as five moments and tackles questions about the future of life in such turbulent times. It also features more than 80 performers including  children and elders, as well as The Crossing, Contemporaneous, and members of the Philadelphia Boys Choir & Chorale and Philadelphia Girls Choir, and Philomusica. Troy shared some of his thoughts with us on the creation of A Period of Animate Existence earlier this year.

FringeArts: What does the title A Period of Animate Existence mean to you? And how did you first respond to it?

Troy Herion: When you look up the word “life” in the dictionary, one of the definitions you will find is: “a period of animate existence.” Our piece looks at the concept of life from a zoomed out perspective—one that tries to consider where life came from and where it is going. When I think of the dictionary definition of life—a “period” of animate existence—the word period implies something with a beginning and an end. The period of my own life is barely conceivable—to think I have a beginning and an end. But when I zoom out and think about the period of life on earth, or life in the universe, the origins and the future trajectory of this continuum of life are entirely beyond my imagination. When we consider the idea that life is a continuum, that all living things on Earth are part of an unbroken chain going back to the first emergence, and continuing into the future from generation to generation, then the period of animate existence is really on a timescale beyond comprehension.

FringeArts: How do you incorporate or consider the other artistic processes happening on this show when composing?

Troy Herion: I’m sort of obsessed with the ways music combines with things like images, environments, and story. I tend to work holistically by imagining music in some sort of context, which has led me to some more interdisciplinary projects like my visual music films. I’m interested in synesthesia, and I experience music as a very tactile thing. Sounds have color and weight, they can travel like objects in space with momentum and friction. So my music is definitely inspired by colors, textures, brightness, and movement. A Period of Animate Existence is a unique project in that we are writing (and revising) the music, story, choreography, and visual design simultaneously. I tend to be inspired by a concept or an image from Dan or Mimi, and then will write an unfinished demo of music. We then try to combine the music and design sketches, so that each can be influenced by the other.

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At Home on Midway Avenue: Interview with Nichole Canuso

Posted April 24th, 2014

photoNichole Canuso is drawn to what people choose to embrace and what they try to erase from their memories, especially as relates to spaces. In her new solo dance performance (at FringeArts May 2 through May 4), Midway Avenue, she explores what happens when “the house you grew up in squeezes into your current home, bending walls, twinning rooms, tilting windows.” In the performance, she constructs and transforms her own memories of growing up in 1980s Philadelphia while through her dance she builds—and takes apart—her current house on stage. We caught up with Nichole to find out some background to the show, as well as what it’s like to create a solo work.

FringeArts: How did you come up with the title Midway Avenue?

Nichole Canuso: Midway Avenue is the name of the street I grew up on. This title came towards the end of the process, once I knew the subject matter of the dance was centering around this house I lived in as a child.

web-3.-Nichole-Canuso_Midway-Avenue_Photo-by-Peggy-WoolseyFringeArts: Can you talk about what Midway Ave is exploring and how it came about?

Nichole Canuso: This dance grew out of a choreographic research project that I instigated a few years ago that focused on the integration and exploration of verbal meaning and physical logic. The main thrust of the project was, and still is, an investigation of the intersections of words and movement in performance. I wanted to give myself the space to use my voice, my writing, and my body in range of ways—to challenge myself to arrange, strip down, and layer meaning in playful and meticulous ways.

As the process evolved my own stories and my own body became the source material and the platform for these formal investigations. Images and stories from my childhood home kept coming up in improvisations and experiments. What began as a formal exploration of language and body eventually became a personal excavation of memory, architecture, and the body. The solo veered in this direction for a few reasons. For one, solos are inherently personal, there is something vulnerable about standing alone. Second is timing: my son is currently the age that I was when a lot of my most potent childhood memories formed.

FringeArts: What’s it like to create a solo work? What appeals to about solo work from an artistic standpoint? And why now was the right time to create it?

Nichole Canuso: When I was a kid I spent a good amount of time alone. And I loved it. As an adult my life is filled with collaboration, discussion, parenting, and negotiation. I love this too.  In recent years I’ve been sculpting large installations with incredible groups of collaborators [Check out Nichole’s work in this area: Wandering Alice, TAKES, The Garden]. I’m also a mother, so for years time alone meant time writing at a computer, or sleeping.

nic on buildingBut some piece of me was ready to work alone for a bit. To return to a solitary place. In the beginning being alone in the studio felt unfamiliar, lonely, sometimes haunting. I realized I hadn’t really been alone in a studio for substantial chunks of time since before I’d become a mother, seven years prior.

But with this project, being alone with my body was the essential starting point. This time alone was not always “pleasant” and not always immediately “productive.” Spending long periods alone in the studio felt odd, like reconnecting with an old friend. Or maybe more like a frustrated grandmother who quips, “Why haven’t you visited?!” And like reconnecting with loved ones or taking a tour of an old house, you see things with a new perspective, while simultaneously experiencing a flood of memories. These sensations seeped into the content.

These sensations became the foundation for this new solo.  A lot of personal material was creeping into the process and although I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to use it as the subject for a work that I would share with the public, from that foundation I found portals into new ways of working. And eventually I found the courage to dig around and to allow myself to use my own stories as a frame for something larger than myself.

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