The Latest Update
“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.
An integral part of the development of the ballet Moss was a series of workshops led by Choreographer Jacqulyn Buglisi that utilized improvisational movements set to music sketches by commissioned composer by Paula Jeanine Bennett. The workshops were held on March 18, April 22, 2017 at the Martha Graham Studios, and August 14-18, 2017 at Steps on Broadway’s Contemporary Masters program. Ms. Bennett performed live at each of these workshops, allowing her to experiment with different percussion instruments, vocal sounds, and rhythms. She writes: “The organic focus of the ‘Moss 1’ 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.” The video submitted with this update was filmed at the spring workshops.
Buglisi Dance Theatre seeks support towards a composer commission and musician fees for Moss, a collaboration between choreographer Jacqulyn Buglisi and composer Paula Jeanine Bennett. Moss is a progression of Buglisi’s environmental and female empowerment works. Buglisi’s vision for this collaboration opens a broader perspective into an organic vocabulary of movements and rhythms that express what makes us human. Bennett writes: “I envision a score for singers, percussion and viola, with sound flowing like water over stones, redolent with female voice and a forward pulsing motion.”
For Buglisi, Moss is a flight deeper into the wonder and mysteries of sacred landscapes and how they relate to the human condition. Now in a digital world affected by climate change, economic and political upheaval, a world in which religion and science often invalidate each other, Buglisi is motivated to restore our ancient connection to the sacred landscapes of the physical world and the spiritual realm of man. She takes inspiration from botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer, whose books “Gathering the Moss” and “Healing Our Relationship with Nature” are in sync with her own explorations of the resilience of the human condition and the natural world.
Buglisi has often been called an imagist. Moss is a poetic metaphor for human existence; this microscopic form of life moving so slowly as to appear imperceptible to the human eye (yet as powerful as stone) is contrasted with the sustainability of human life which is fleeting, fragile, vulnerable. It is exciting and challenging to be creating a vocabulary of opposites in movement (gravity and weightlessness, abstract motion and dynamic emotionality) for this work.
Just as the green plants are the nurturers of the earth, the wisdom of the female story throughout history nourishes human existence. “Today as we experienced an historic presidential election, I am reminded that we as women are often left out of the conversation, and my vision to bring awareness to the ongoing female stories in the world today deepens the lens on the oppression women still face. I question our humanness in the digital age which draws me even more passionately into the fire that exists around the sustainability of human life juxtaposed to the dramatic environmental changes that we see on our planet. I feel it affects us emotionally and spiritually and puts into question the health of human existence.” -jb
The theme of moss will be represented onstage through a time-lapse-like projection that slowly fills the backdrop. The 20-minute piece for 6 dancers is accompanied by live music (Bennett has a repertoire of 15 percussion instruments, several of which may be used such as the frame drum, dumbek, berimbau, and surdo). Under consideration is Ximena Borges, an emerging improvisational jazz vocalist, who has performed with BDT at The Joyce Theater and as the lead vocalist and music director in the Table of Silence Project.
Timeline: preview spring 2017, NYC; summer residency White Oak, Florida; 2018 NYC premiere to mark BDT’s 25th anniversary (in discussion w/ Joyce Theater).
Start and End Dates
04/01/2017 — 06/30/2018
New York, New York