by Brandon Lincoln Snyder
I ran into Scott, a participant of the Dance & Music workshop, late one night after a concert. His degree is in composition, but he is also a dancer, as well as a violist. Stepping into the workshop’s rehearsal yesterday, I discovered that such hybridity was common practice for this group.
The edges of rehearsal space were strewn with shoes, bags, and instruments. Similarly, the participants themselves were scattered around the sides of the room, commenting on the presenting group from (literally) a range of perspectives. Each group was a different ‘instrumentation,’ involving creative staging and intricate electronic set ups. I walked in on a group of five – four with instruments, one without – as they were dancing and creating sound simultaneously. The next group was completely different. A trio, two dancers and a violist, all moving around the space to an underscore of electronic sound. Even the performance space itself was not taken for granted. The rehearsal concluded with tutors Stefan Prins and Daniel Linehan asking for each group’s preferred performance location.
Theatre, the body, and collaboration have been central topics at this year’s Darmstadt Summer Course – and yet the excitement of stepping into these “extended fields” has also earned a degree of complaint. Some argue that the theatrics we saw in Tarzan, or in Johannes Kreidler’s Film #3 (both commissions of this year’s festival), were nothing new when compared with the history of the experimental theatre and film. The new music community is pushing up against the conventions of other experimental scenes.
This workshop could be one response to that conversation. The theatrics, the body, and the conception of collaboration in new music is outgrowing its own history; the Dance & Music workshop deals with this by the merging many of the disciplines.
Collaboration is not new to Prins and Linehan. Just a month before the Summer Course, the duo premiered Third Space, a massive 90-minute dance/music work, at the Munich Biennale. Today’s concert is set to look quite different. According to Scott, Prins and Linehan keep an open-ended approach towards mentoring the participants – their schedule is set on a ‘whenever-you-need-us’ basis, with the participants reaching out to them only when they wish to present something.
This concert will be a fluid spectrum between musical and dance performance. Rather than dividing the creative labour, giving choreography to dancers and music to musicians, each participant gets stuck into the entire piece at hand. Bringing together a group of dancers and musicians was not just a matter of delegating roles. Prins and Linehan seemed to want a more open process, within which artists of different disciplines could bring their unique perspectives to the table. With collaboration at the heart of the workshop’s focus, Prins and Linehan acknowledge that such relationships evolve over time. In the workshop, the participants don’t so much seek to create a masterpiece, but to discover, together, strategies and systems for creative collaboration.
With all its cutting-edge potential, today’s event challenges the old idea of the masterwork. Could it mark an elevation of collaboration that transcends such a deep-rooted value? Turns out the first iteration of the Dance & Music workshop finds itself at the heart of one of the Summer Course’s biggest conversations.
Dance & Music is Friday at 19:30 in the Große Sporthalle