A few thoughts from the musical composers/performers currently working with FLOCK on their pieces in development through Dancing Grounds‘ AIR program.
Colin Myers, composer, performer, trombonist in The Stop Suffering Project (and other inquiries)
Working with Meryl can be a pretty freaking awesome and terrifying and beautiful thing. In the nicest possible way, she pushes us to get out of our comfort zones. She incorporates ideas from philosophy, literature, and spirituality, not just using them in the choreography but actively engaging with them in practice with us in ways that might not be considered “dance” at all. She also draws heavily on the performers’ own ideas, utilizing the diverse strengths of the team to create a true freedom of expression and movement, and the result is invariably fun and beautiful.
As the musician in The Stop Suffering Project, there is a very tangible but fluid distinction between being a musician and being a dancer. Dancing is movement; playing the trombone is nothing but movement, in that I simply move my lungs, lips, and hands. I dance with these body parts. It’s just a louder and maybe more melodic sound than the slaps the dancers’ feet make on the floor. The fun of working with Meryl is in playing with these elements.
What has been the most challenging for me is practicing being vulnerable, open, and totally honest. Yes, I know how to do these things already, but usually only in my nicely defined safe contexts. With Meryl we have been practicing turning on vulnerability like a switch, to play with what that is like with each other as a team, and also with an audience. It’s freaking terrifying, but we wouldn’t be where we are now if it weren’t for that!
You can check out the work composer/musician Colin Myers has been doing with FLOCK on The Stop Suffering Project (and other Inquiries) this week at Dancing Grounds’ eDGe Dance Festival.
Rebecca Crenshaw, composer, performer, violinist in The Lipstick
I worked with dancers a lot at Hampshire College, where I got my BA, but it was never as exploratory as Meryl’s process. Our first discussion about the the project was super open-ended and malleable, as were many of the primary rehearsals. It was (and still is!) a fascinating and wonderful process to be a part of.
As a musician working with dancers, the process of composing and choreographing simultaneously was new for me. It blurred the line between who is leading whom. Exploring this aspect of improvisation both live and in rehearsal puts dancer and musician in an excitingly vulnerable place that allows some magic to happen.
In The Lipstick, I feel like instead of musicians and dancers, we are storytellers — there’s a story for us to tell, as well as a question for us to answer– and sometimes the story is unfolding in front of us. The performances have been intense and magical because of this.
Featured image at top by Christian Hardy