Professors join in Dance Series piece

The fourth installment of the 2013-2014 Dance Series was held last Wednesday, Jan. 29, and featured the visiting performance duo Rebecca Bryant and Don Nichols. This group combines new music and contemporary dance, both to complement each other and showcase how dance and music can work on their own and together.

The performance primarily featured visiting dancer Rebecca Bryant and composer Don Nichols. Bryant is a performer, improviser and choreographer who focuses on creating performances that combine set and improvised movement with sound, text and video. Nichols is a percussionist, composer and educator who focuses on new, contemporary music but is also well versed in genres such as contemporary solo percussion, jazz, chamber music, improvisation and electro-acoustic music.

Although Bryant and Nichols were the primary performers, the concert also featured Lawrence’s own Visiting Professor of Dance Rebecca Salzer and Lecturer of Music Matt Turner, in a quartet piece with the duo. With this piece in particular, the dancers and musicians posed questions to the audience to think about during the performances regarding the role of improvised versus rehearsed art.

The opening two pieces performed featured Bryant and Nichols separately and they encouraged the audience to pay attention to the movement in the musical work and the sound within the dance composition. The first was entitled “Station of Small Sounds,” written and performed by Nichols, where he played various instruments and timbres such as small bells, both covered and uncovered by the hands, and a snare drum with hands, brushes and knives as instruments. Bryant’s piece was entitled “Listen” and featured her in all black clothing as she moved in ways that brought out the sounds of her feet swishing or squeaking on the floor and the sound of her crawling on the floor.

The next piece was entitled “Pulse Piece” and featured Nichols and Bryant together. For this piece Nichols composed an electronic pulse that he played while performing on drum set while Bryant reacted in her movements. The quartet was featured next in a work called “Reasonable Searches and Seizures” with Turner on cello, Nichols on percussion and Bryant and Salzer moving to each instrument, the instruments together and to the other dancer.

Nichols took the floor again with a composition entitled “Black Sparrow Shadow,” which also utilized electronics that Nichols created to interact with his live performance. Bryant then performed a solo act entitled “Suite Female: Part 1” in which her movements were accompanied by text she had written. The text consisted of a voice saying sentences that began with “The woman who…” and ended with a variety of other descriptions, opening up lots of interpretations for how her movements reacted to the text.

The last piece performed by past)(modern performance duo was entitled “Essential” and showcased each of their discipline’s use of video. While Nichols performed music live and through electronics, Bryant danced in front of a video that changed landscapes and at one point recorded her moving outline and projected it on the screen behind her, giving the audience a double visual of her movements. This piece brought together their work in dance and music with the changing artistic culture and its use of technology as a contributing artistic tool.

Don’t miss the final dance series performance of the season entitled “Rebecca Salzer Dance Theatre: Bird Lady” on Thursday, April 3 and 4 at 8 p.m.