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Construction

Susan Marshall and the Sō Percussion ensemble create a hybrid contemporary dance/new music work based on a visual score

Overview

Construction is a collaboration between choreographer Susan Marshall and the Sō Percussion Ensemble on a hybrid, evening-length contemporary dance/new music work in which four percussionists and three dancers are movers and music-makers. In Construction, music and dance, and composer and choreographer, are at the same level in the creation and reception of a work. The symbiotic relationship between music and dance is brought out into the open as two systems that coexist and interrelate: the work is structured by a score that is visible and understandable to the audience—and requires the musicians to move through space to play it—producing a complex movement and sonic world. Three dancers’ pathways intersect with the musicians’ like spirograph drawings superimposed on one another.

The movements of the performers are determined by and reconfigure the musical score through rules based on the “misuse” of audio equipment: a notation of colored tape on a scenic wall creates rhythms when a microphone is dragged across it; audio feedback (à la Steve Reich) is generated as performers move around the stage; and complex, intersecting and overlapping pathways of dancers and musicians tangle and untangle the audio cables that cross the stage. From this raw sonic palette and simple rules of engagement, Marshall and Sō are weaving an intricate and rhythmic world of dynamic interactions and dramatic relationships between the performers.

Like most of the company’s works, Construction is being developed over an extended period. Early investigation was supported by a fall 2016 seminar on cross-disciplinary art that Marshall and Sō co-founder Jason Treuting co-taught at Princeton University. In January 2017, Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts (formerly American Dance Institute) provided an early technical residency through its Incubator program during which the “rules” of the sonic and choreographic world were worked out. A first draft of the work has been under development during summer/fall 2017; excerpts of the work-in-progress will be performed as part of New York Live Arts’ APAP showcases in January 2018.

The next phases of work will take place in 2018-19, during extended residencies at Princeton University, scheduled to occur around Sō Percussion’s annual Summer Institute there; and in studios in New York City in summer 2018. Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts will provide a final technical residency at its new venue in Catskill, NY in spring 2019, during which we will also present several showings of the work. At this point the work will be complete and ready for its world premiere. While we are only at an early stage of conversations with presenters, we anticipate that the work will premiere in fall/winter 2019, followed by a NYC premiere and a national tour during the 2019-20 season.

Project Media

Play/Pause (2013) (10 minute excerpt)
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In Play/Pause Marshall applies her gestural and rhythmic choreography to popular music idioms. This excerpt begins with the sonic/choreographic idea that inspired Construction: a visual design of tape produces a rhythmic sound when a microphone is dragged across it. This complicates the conventional relationships between music and dance: here the notated score has a direct relationship to both the music and the movement of the body. Like the proposed work, Play/Pause was a collaboration, in this case between Marshall and composer David Lang.

Life is (_)
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Features: So Percussion

Life is (_) is a quartet composed by Jason Treuting, founding member of Sō, for the ensemble. Life is (_) is made from words found in the newspaper. The performers create their own score using words of specified lengths from articles of similar topics and then transform the words into the rhythms and melodies that make up the piece. Like Construction, Life is (_) develops complexity and meaning through the rigorous application of a set of simple rules.

Start and End Dates

01/01/201912/31/2019

Location

New York, New York

Project Created By

New York, New York

In Collaboration With

Composer/ensemble
Brooklyn, New York

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