August 17, 2009

Free-Floating, Free-Falling Shapes with Heather Maloney

"Would you like to go downstairs and hear the piece?"

"No," she said confidently. "I'm going to improv."

This exchange took place last Friday night at the Alternate ROOTS Annual Meeting during that evening's Late Night/Open Mic sessions. I had decided to play Tom Benjamin's Shapes, for Violin Solo (1975) and, well, was given a gift.

Heather Maloney
is a dancer and choreographer whom I met in December 2008 at the National Performance Network Annual Meeting - but the world being as it is, I first heard of her and saw her work in February 2000 at the New World School of the Arts in Miami, Florida. Her work is (to say the least) innovative and quite thought-provoking, with her choreographic language being characterized by an almost frenetic use of gesture and intense, focused physicality. I must say that it was quite the surprise to have found out that she was going to be in Seattle as I had wanted to meet her since first seeing her onstage in does what it's going to do, no?

SO...while chatting during breaks in the evening at ROOTS that consisted of some amazing readings of poetry and other performances, Heather asked if I was playing - and then asked if I would like her to dance...and you've read the conversation. I must laugh at myself: so intent on being thorough with my practicing and musicmaking, making sure that my ideas are clear, I found myself a bit taken aback by the idea of going on stage in "free-fall" mode, let alone with one of the most fascinating choreographers that I've met. Of course, I have wanted to collaborate with dancers for quite some time, so I said yes.

What I HAVE realized, however - but not as profoundly until last Friday night - that Shapes, with its vertcial and horizontal motives, exploration of the violin and all of its sonic capabilities, and well-places breathing spots, SHOULD sound as if it is being "made on the spot", violinist and audience both waiting for the next sentence, phrase, or sound with heightened expectation.

While waiting - we were soon to perform (the number of performers on this night, one of the last, was near thirty!), we were joined by Hope Clark, who simply said yes, and jumped in.

The violinist stood silently, he breathed, and put bow to string, playing the first gesture. Movement took place in front of him - and while I did not see ALL of it, I have to say that what I DID witness (looking down while playing) was just as it should have been - but nothing that I had ever imagined or seen before....

....guess sometimes we just have to trust, let go, and dive in...I think there's video of this one...

More from this summer very soon - the lazy blogger has to get caught up,

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