Dance for Music, Music for Dance

Recently I played live improvised music for a few dance improvisation events.

A few questions arise and linger in the air…

What’s needed of me?  I am needed?  Can dancers find their own music?  Why am I here, as a musician?

Sometimes I think I am needed, sometimes I feel pretty independent, and free in what I can play.

Sometimes I know that the dancers and the space needs some uplifting, or some shaking up.  I can feel it, see it.

Sometimes I feel the difference in what I can imagine to play, and sometimes it feels not very good to play certain styles of music with certain dancers. It gets me or them stuck perhaps. Sometimes its better to not try to reference any kind of musical style at all… Maybe fragment it, cut it, samples, distorted landscapes, less total, more challenge, use physical scores or something about the rhythm and texture beyond anything else.

So… what about a space where there is negotiation and dialogue?

Perhaps it’s something to do with always ‘changing the rate of change’ as the choreographer Jonathan Burrows says.  Like a stream or a flow between the players and dancers.

Like yesterday night when I was improvising music for a dance class, I felt that I was in sync with this stream with the other dancers.  I think it helped that I did the physical warmup with them and shared a freedom to move within the physical space.

In all situations, can there be an equal feeling of creative collaboration between dancers, and musician(s), that it’s not merely one accompanying the other?

Mike Vargas wrote a useful and inspiring list about relating between dancers and musicians:

I will keep musing on this… or maybe I should keep dancing on this

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