Benjamin Britten: Simple Symphony, Op.4, mvt 3 “Sentimental Sarabande”, featuring the premiere of a new work by choreographer Andrea Higgins
Notes from the choreographer & dancer, Andrea Higgins
Hoping to enrich the audience’s understanding of the Conductor’s role in live performance, the Artistic Director of Boston String Players, Motoki Tanaka, simply asked of me that his gestures be considered as the touchstone for the dance. The technique of conducting, as he explained to me, takes place within a small frame: about the width of the shoulders and spanning the length between the waist and the top of the head. The movement itself is a combination of short vertical and horizontal pulses. With very little variation, these small-scale gestures generate the making of live music, communicating rhythm and nuance to the musicians.
While I have used Motoki’s conducting technique as the source for the dance movement in the three solos that comprise this work, the craft of dance composition calls for these basic movements to be manipulated in a variety of ways. The scale of the movement is expanded and contracted; the shape of the movement is explored from different angles and directions; the pathways of the movement through space take on direct and indirect shape and varying effort qualities that range from light to heavy; finally, the time taken to perform the movement is explored through acceleration and deceleration. While these variations on the theme of conducting keep unison of movement between conductor and dancer to a minimum, it is my hope that the way in which the movement overlaps and intersects will create multiple visual layers of connection.
While the dances take their physicality from the action of conducting, they also explore the space, shape, and expressive power of the musical performance. The First Movement considers the individual’s experience of music today: the limits of physical listening space that are so ingrained 21st Century life versus the inner world and shape that music fills. The Second Movement considers the idea of communication and explores overlapping points of contact that occur between musician and instrument, musician and conductor, and conductor and audience. The Third Movement explores the more timeless and universal way that music connects us to something within and, something beyond. Whatever my thoughts may have been in the creation of this work, ultimately it is my hope that each audience member will find their own interpretation and meaning, based upon both individual and collective life experience. -Andrea Higgins
“Bach To Björk" 10/19/12 @ Remis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston