Monday, November 28, 2011

Trio for Trumpet and Dancer

Trio for Trumpet and Dancer
Charter Oak Cultural Center
Hartford, CT

I can't remember how many years I have been working with Olivia Iliano-Davis.  I do remember the first time we met.  Olivia was headed into Betances School, where I worked at the time, running the arts component of an after school program.  Olivia was bringing ballet into the school for the Hartford Ballet.

Olivia got my attention immediately.  She is a small woman with great energy.  She also dresses well, and the combination of these two elements made me notice her right away.  Not too long after that, she decided to form her own company, Spectrum in Motion Dance Theater Ensemble.

I provided music for the company from time to time, but Olivia and I had never found a way to work together in a more deeply collaborative manner.  Her ensemble is made up of young dancers, some of whom she has known since they where school children.  She has a love of black music, and uses it consistently to fuel her composition.  You should see her choreography of Charles Mingus and Wayne Shorter.

Olivia asked me to create music for her to dance to this fall.  I invited Charlie Dye, a wonderful young drummer to join us in a trio improvisation.  And while we did improvise, each night moved closer to formality in the movement as Olivia did what she always does and worked on building a composition.

Throughout the experience, I found myself thinking of Bill Dixon and his work with choreographer Judith Dunn.  Bill loved to tell stories about pieces they had done together, how the music and dance were integral to each other in their collaborations.  I was fortunate to meet and work with Judith on a revival of her work, with Bill, shortly before she passed away.  She was/is a remarkable woman.

My dream is to conduct a year long residency with the dance ensemble and a group of musicians, teaching everyone to move together.  If this is possible, it will happen here in Hartford.  Let's see what happens.

Image of Stephen Haynes and Olivia Davis by Rich Davis
Image of Judith Dunn from Yvonne Rainer's website

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