ACDFA North-Central Conference


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!


“For Laura”

This past November, I was involved in a collaborative work led by Milwaukee composer Amanda Schoofs and choreographer Laura Murphy.  The piece was entitled “An Inherent Presence,” and was one of five collaborations performed for Intersect; an evolution of Danceworks’ previous interdisciplinary projects, directed by Dani Kuepper.

Amanda Schoof’s musical score, “For Laura”, superimposes dynamic, raw motion with provocative poetic fragments, and exists in the space between composition and spontaneity.  The music is realized by Steve Schlei on an iPad playing the TC-11 synthesizer app, Trevor Saint on glockenspiel and myself on tenor saxophone.  The dancers involved were: Alberto Cambra, Kim Johnson-Rockafellow, Dani Kuepper, Gina Lauenzi, and Christal Wagner.

Here’s an excerpt from Milwaukee Magazine’s review:

“The purest collaboration of the evening was an improvisation called “An Inherent Presence,” developed by choreographer Laura Murphy. Two onstage musicians—tenor saxophonist David Collins and Steve Schlei, playing the TC-11, a programmable synthesizer app on an iPad. The music was composed by Amanda Schoofs, though like the movement it was likely a structure that the musicians interpret in different ways for each performance. A quartet of dancers started out clustered in the back corner of the stage, and the music spurred them into different energy levels. Christal Wagner seemed to initiate different sections of the piece by articulating a gesture or motif, which was then expanded by the other three. And they all ran with it—with a kind of controlled, technically assured abandon that was thrilling to watch.”

Paul Mitchel was kind enough to share some photos he took during our dress rehearsal.

Please visit Paul’s website for information about his work.

Later this month, Amanda will be directing a recording session of “For Laura”, to be released later this year, so stay tuned!