Go Deeper

Mouving Together

Posted September 17th, 2011

Bowerbird and Live Arts are two peas in an experimental pod; both organizations are interested in intriguing work, and working together, help develop each other’s audiences while exposing those audiences to new pieces at the same time. For the 2011 Live Arts Festival, we’ve joined forces to present Xavier Le Roy’s More Mouvements für Lachenmann, which closes tonight.

“Bowerbird has this history of presenting both music and dance, and doing things at the blurry boundaries between those two. This piece is in many ways that. It has no dancers in the traditional sense, but it’s by a choreographer,” said Dustin Hurt, the founder and director of Bowerbird.

“Live Arts has an interesting track record of getting people to performances. And it’s nice to place this work in contrast with other work presented in Live Arts, because it’s so much about the issues of dance.”

After the jump: what to expect from musicians who dance (or dancers who music?) without leaving their chairs, and a chance to see some of the best performers in the world, because that’s how we do!

“The genesis of the piece is that a lot of contemporary music—all music, but contemporary music especially—uses these things called extended techniques. It’s a funny term, but they’re techniques that have extraordinary demands on performers and instruments. In the case of the piece that we have, it might be playing the fretboard of an instrument, striking it with the hand, playing it percussively, in up and down patterns. These visual patterns really become the core of the movement vocabulary for the piece. There’s time where the music and the movement seem very synchronized, and there’s time where the choreographer plays with that and starts to add additional movements to the piece,” Dustin said.

“I wouldn’t feel strange about saying that these are the best performers of this type of music in the world. There’s only a handful that can play it, and we’re bringing in eight of them.”

“Xavier’s a molecular biologist–he didn’t really train as a dancer. It’s given him an interesting analytical approach to movement, but he’s very poetic and human in the scale of his work. He’s interested in exploring the relationship between the spectator and the performer. It’s about trying to unpack the complex relationship of what the person sees and what the choreographer does. On the surface level of this piece, if you’re interested in just a visceral level–it’s really exciting. Lachenmann’s music has this aggressive or violent tone at times, but then really pulls back to be sparse, twinkling, sensual sounds on these instruments. The piece itself is pretty mesmerizing, with all the visual cues and charismatic performers, it’s easy to respond to. But after the piece happens, it’ll be interesting to learn how it sits with people, and what layers are revealed, even for me,” said Dustin.

Ultimately, Dustin said, this piece is about asking some fundamental questions about performance that we don’t often see addressed on stage.

“I hope the audience takes away that this piece isn’t about asserting finality or opinion, but evoking very broad, important questions, including, what is dance? Is it people on stage with stage lighting, or any type of movement that’s determinged/ prescribed by a choreographer? It’s nice to revisit these very core questions.”

You can revisit them tonight at More Mouvements für Lachenmann at the Arts Bank, 601 S. Broad Street. 8:00 pm.

–Nicholas Gilewicz