Monday, March 21, 2011

Music, Rehearsal, & Artists' Space

Houston is fast becoming a quick road trip! This weekend I zipped down from Austin for first Klytemnestra music rehearsals with Misha, Miranda, the musicians, and the composer. Saturday we met in the music building at the University of Houston—my instructions were to enter the side of the building next to the statue…a contemporary version of Winged Victory (Duncan would have taken that as a good sign).

Winged Victory
The music for this new opera is haunting and beautiful. As a dancer, it is interesting to sit in on the part of the process when the musicians are beginning to integrate the efforts of their solo practice. For this project, I’m still in the learning-the-music stage. For me, the dance movement most organically materializes after I’ve absorbed the music by living with it, listening over and over until I can recall most of the phrasing in my imaginative mind, and I find myself waking up in the morning with the music playing on a loop in my head. I’ve been working with an early recording of the Klytemnestra piece that is only instrumental. After this weekend’s rehearsals, I now have new recordings that include Misha’s vocals and Miranda’s spoken text.

Music Rehearsal at University of Houston
I am loving this representation of Aeschylus’ ancient story. The spoken and sung texts pair inverse chronologies to articulate Klytemnestra’s tragic tale. The actress starts with the end of the story, after Agemmenon’s return—which, from thousands of years of historical distance, we can presume the audience knows—and the operatic text begins with Klytemnestra waiting…marking time for the ten long years that describe the Trojan War.

Rehearsing at Divergence Vocal Theater
It is interesting to me to consider the differences in audience reception of a narrative (book, performance, film, whatever) that is supposed to be telling a story for the first time—that leads the audience members along a step-by-step process of revelation of plot—versus that of one that assumes everyone knows the story. The latter example enables audience members to experience aspects of the performance not limited to intellectual comprehension of a logical series of events. The audience is freed to enjoy rhythms, sounds, and textures that conjure an imaginative and emotive, as well as, an intellectual landscape. In this way, the repetitive act of story-telling serves a ritual-like function. It offers audience members the opportunity to listen somatically and aurally, as well as logically—to hear and to feel the poetic play between the meaning and the sound of the words. And this particular collaborative composition crafts that relationship artfully!