Thursday, July 16, 2009

Riding the wave

On Saturday I went to see a dance performance at Lincoln Center's recently reopened and simply beautiful Alice Tully Hall. Shen Wei Dance Arts performed a three-movement piece entitled, "Re-" that has me continuing to think about it, even now. The following evening, I had the chance to hear once again a segment of music used for one of the movements, only this time in the subterranean music venue, Le Poisson Rouge. Todd Reynolds, the violinist, introduced the piece he was about to play and explained that during the creative and rehearsal process it had taken on the name, "Killer." As I listened to the powerful and terrifying piece for violin and electronics in the dramatically dark club with its starkly lit stage, I could literally see the choreography from the night before. Actually, it was more like a kinesthetic inner compulsion fighting to emerge through my own body. I wanted to dance it. It struck me then: this music was such a perfect fit with that particular physical movement that the two had become inseparable in my mind.

I think music is meant to move us. Not only emotionally, but often literally. Some of my most cherished memories of music making are when body, breath and sound are riding on the same wave, the same impulse, moving as one. Try singing a line from a favorite song, investing it with the intention and the emotion the song calls for, without moving anything below your head. Completely unnatural, right? It hurts just thinking about it! But sometimes, I get so caught up in the technical challenges of trying to play or sing something that my body gets out of sync with my mind. In a recent practice session with other improvising vocalists, I was soloing over a delicious sonic bed my compadres had laid down when I felt compelled to step and gesture while I sang. I decided to go with it, and you know what? It all felt like one perfect thing.

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