Choreographers and Composers

Choreographers and Composers collaboration
was a project begun in 2016, initiated by Rob Cutietta and Jodie Gates, our dean and
vice dean here at USC Kaufman. I put them together in different groups, and
then they have about three months’ time outside of class to create pieces that are between
seven and 10 minutes long. For our piece, we really wanted it to be a
very hands-on, involved process, where we got to influence the music and what we desired
to hear. We really wanted to just focus on playfulness
and really just getting out of our comfort zones, and finding a common movement language
within all of us, and that was mainly through the music. My piece was called Path. Me and four other choreographers worked with
Sam Ostroff, who’s in Thornton School of Music. Once we heard the music, we kind of already
had this idea of like path and movement, and that’s how we came up with the title of our
piece. And then from there we did a lot of improv
based tasks to what he had created, and we pulled together a piece with the music. So my group all worked really well together. One idea just kept leading to another, and
our composer was so willing and open and generous, and in the end he ended up dancing in the
piece with us, and we incorporated text and props, which was also really nice, and we
got full support from our faculty. It helped elevate the work as much as possible
which was really exciting. The short way to describe it would just be,
an exploration of the variations between individuals and what that looks like as one painted mural
rather than a chronological ongoing story. We wanted to take that whole timeline and
really display it all at once within ten minutes as much as we could. Something I definitely learned from this experience
was being able to work with live musicians, which is something I’ve never been able to
do before. Saying like, “oh, you know what, like maybe
we can drag this note out a little bit longer,” or, “we might be able to play with the music,”
so if we can hear new notes every time, it just gives us an opportunity to keep the process
growing, and it also challenges the dancer to keep an open ear, and that is something
new for me. I love to create, and choreographing has always
been my passion, apart from dancing. You’re there in the studio, with other dancers,
getting these opportunities to perform and choreograph has been really beneficial. A big takeaway from choreographers and composers
is that aspect of collaboration. Collaboration is something that I don’t think
anyone will ever perfect, it’s always an ever-evolving project between different bodies. It’s definitely a challenge to choreograph
with others when they’re other dancemakers, because we all have our own ideas and our
desires of what we want to see in the choreography and it’s finding a balance of letting our
ideas show through, but also taking a step back and allowing others to shine as well. This is not an easy project. But also, in all the years that we’ve done
this project, they always find creative solutions to those hurdles, so it is also so rich for
them as a project.

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