ACDFA North-Central Conference

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Last weekend, I was involved as an accompanist with the American College Dance Festival Association’s regional conference, held right here in Milwaukee.  There was a lot of preparation and buzz within the UW-Milwaukee Dance Department as the conference drew near, and the conference as a whole, seemed to be a great success.  I had a fantastic time meeting some new people, both musicians and choreographers, and shared some great moments of collaboration.

One of my highlights of the whole event was accompanying alongside Terrance Karn (percussion) for Ananya Chatterjea‘s Contemporary Indian Dance workshop.  As I would expect of a regional conference, participation of staff and faculty from several different colleges and universities, automatically involves collaboration with individuals you’ve never met; creating exciting new opportunities to learn and interact spontaneously.  In my experience, this opportunity has sometimes been successful, and sometimes not.  This particular case was one of immediate connection, relaxed, but enthusiastic interest, and a great desire to fill the room with joyful, positive energy.  I must say, I don’t recall a time I experienced impromptu music making in a dance environment that was quite like this; I was literally “buzzing” when it was over.

Unfortunately, I don’t believe there is any documentation of the class (audio or video), so this will simply have to live on in my mind as one of the most amazing experiences in recent years.  I give great thanks and appreciation to Terrance Karn, Ananya Chatterjea, and the entire class of dancers for the incredible memories.

Another highlight was accompanying one of the Adjudicator classes; this one by Bill Wade of the Inlet Dance Theatre in Cleveland, OH.  I enjoyed Bill’s words of wisdom on the relationship between performers and audience members, and Dominique and Joshua’s demonstrations seemed to stun us all.  I felt the particular Live patch I was using for the class was just the right thing to keep the students engaged in the “assignment” for the moment.  I plan on putting together an audio sample of that patch in the near future.

Until  next time… cheers to more collaborative opportunities in the future!

A new semester of dance accompaniment

Last fall, I was excited to be chosen as one of the musicians to accompany modern dance classes for UW-Milwaukee’s Peck School of the Arts.  This is something that I’ve wanted to do for some time, but until last fall there were no openings.  I had previously attended a handful of classes on a voluntary basis, joining my friend Seth Warren-Crow on percussion and electronics, and thoroughly enjoyed the process of improvising for dancers.  After all, music for dance has been one of my primary artistic outlets over the last few years, and to have the opportunity to practice this craft on a weekly basis is most welcome.

I’m now into my second semester of accompaniment and am developing more methods and techniques to use in the class.  While I continue to bring my saxophones (alto/tenor) for a strong physical/acoustic presence, most of my development involves my laptop set up.  This is a somewhat obvious statement for me, as the laptop work provides the primary foundation, while the saxophone embellishes the laptops pitch-based material and aids sectional structure through phrase development.  Also, I’ve been playing the saxophone for  decades, and have become quite comfortable in a variety of improvisational settings; the laptop environment provides me with new challenges and opportunities.

From my experiences with Seth, I observed that the rhythmic/pulse needs of the class can suddenly change.  This requires a dynamic response on the accompanists behalf; moving from a strong pulse to ambient and back.  Some of my previous work with Max For Live patches was certainly going to be beneficial.  I spent the previous semester fine tuning how I use my primary rhythmic M4L patch, C8 Sequencer; adjusting instances used, chance to trigger a sound, polyrhythmic complexity, and how this all is impacted by tempo.  I learned a lot about controlling all of this in real time and will be making some changes to exactly how this is all controlled.  For the time though, I’ve put together a demonstration/example of what’s been done so far and posted it to my SoundCloud account.  I imagine there will be similar posts in the future.