Today we have John Nevin with us, with an introduction to his new column “Music and Dance”…
Dance does not require music, and especially for those whose lives and art are deeply involved in the world of dance, movement can be expressed in silence or with a simple and abstract sound design. Much more often, though, dance and music move together through the space called Choreography, and the opportunities and challenges of understanding how music works with dance — or fails to — is the subject of this new series, Music and Dance, at 4dancers.org.
The ideas that such a series could cover are bounded by two nearly opposite perspectives on music and dance. One perspective would see most clearly the contrasts and contradictions of two very different worlds, and different they are. The worlds of Dance and Music are culturally, economically and socially different in many ways, and in ways that make for important differences in how each art is inspired and expressed. Yet ultimately, in a truly successful dance performance, there is little or nothing to separate the two arts, because the movement and the music express together the same artistic vision. When does that happen, and more importantly, how does that ever happen? That’s the outline for this series.
There are artistic questions to explore, like talking about ways to choose music for choreography, and each artistic question leads to more practical questions. What are the best places to find that music? There are technical questions, like discussing how different musical selections can be arranged so that an audience is inspired, rather than distracted, by the changing musical panorama. Among all of these questions, the most pressing are probably those that have an immediate impact on creating, performing, and enjoying dance, and first among those would be a look at how — and why — music effects the artistic success of dance. That’s where we’ll start next month, but here’s a preview:
The heart of this question is a more basic question: why is there an audience for dance at all? More than any other single reason, it’s because people love to share what dancers do, and when you choreograph or dance, success is perhaps best measured by how much of what you can do, you can share. The love of music is very much the same, but there is a difference in the two arts that is important for making dance and music succeed together. An artistic vision is at its essence spiritual — spiritual in the broadest sense in that it ventures beyond a day-to-day awareness of what is already understood. Dance and music are both arts of the spirit, but while dance is the art of a spirit moving in space, music is an art of the spirit moving in time. In the art of Choreography, music can inspire — and often defines — the sequence, the progress, and the success of what is shared.
Next month we’ll take a closer look at how to make sense of the seemingly endless choices that come up when you’re choosing music.
Contributor John Nevin is the Resident Composer and Sound Designer for Thodos Dance Chicago, as well as an independent record producer, and a founding member of the group ‘ohana Dreamdance. In addition to his work as a composer, John works with choreographers and other artists in the sound design for their creative works, and writes extensively about music and dance at aotpr.com