“Moss 1”, choreographed by Jacqulyn Buglisi to commissioned music by Paula Jeanine Bennett, is the first in a series of works within an expansive two-year project. The dance had its first presentation by Buglisi Dance Theatre, with live music, at New York Live Arts, June 13-17, 2017, and at New York City Center Studio 5 on June 22, 2017. The 20-minute ballet for eight dancers is a suite in six sections reflecting the slow-growing universe of moss as a metaphor for man’s relationship to the natural world and the ultimate survival of human existence. The music is performed live by Ms. Bennett (vocals, percussion) and Christopher Lancaster (cello) with a recorded soundscape with Richard Bennett (piano). The live performance and soundscape featured a varied selection of primitive percussion instruments including the Saragossa spark shaker, African pod bundle, Pearl and small bell strand, Low hat cymbals, India swarmandal harp, Goat toenail rattle, Wooden octocahon drum, Chinese bass drum, Propane tank drum, and Brazilian caxixi shakers.
Of the collaboration, The Dance Enthusiast writes: “[Buglisi’s] Graham-based side tilts and spirals intersperse with sinuous gestures and skitters reminiscent of Indian classical dance. Paula Jeanine Bennett’s commissioned score (played live) casts a spell with delicate melodies atop bird-bright cadences. The effect of Moss 1 is ethereal, deities executing arcane rituals to preserve a luminous yet fragile world.”
In development is Ms. Buglisi’s choreography to a second section of Ms. Bennett’s commissioned score, composed in December 2017, with five movements that introduces a jazz sensibility to the piece. The creation of the ballet will take place during a Buglisi Dance Theatre residency at UC, Santa Barbara in January 2018.
Ms. Bennett writes: “My participation in the “Moss” project continues to resonate in my creative work. An important word in Ms. Buglisi’s process for “Moss I” is reciprocity, the cycle between the human and natural world. I am continuing to compose enlightened by this theme. The organic focus of the “Moss” work has given me new pathways of visualization, seeing music through breath, sonic texture and movement. I am grateful for the support which has allowed me to thrive and break new artistic ground.”
Buglisi Dance Theatre expresses its gratitude to New Music USA, and to the O’Donnell Green Music and Dance Foundation, Arnhold Foundation, and The Harkness Foundation for Dance for its generous support of this choreographer / composer collaboration.