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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Mocean Dance unveils a new work over a decade in the making

Blurring the boundaries between dance and music, dancer and musician, Where Dance and Music Meet features a cast of 19 artists exploring the potential of spontaneous composition.

Inspired by her long association with legendary jazz percussionist Jerry Granelli, Mocean Dance co-artistic director and faculty member of the Creative Music Workshop (CMW), Susanne Chui has continued the work she began with Granelli by honouring their collaboration with Where Dance and Music Meet.

Where Dance and Music Meet is a title that Jerry and I used over the years for a lot of the projects that we have done together, “says Chui. “In fact, Jerry started using this phrase back in the 1970s when he began working with dancers in a summer program at Naropa University. It has a history and a lineage, and we felt it was the title that best encapsulates the context of Jerry’s vision and work that has flowed from the past and continues to propel us into the future.”

When Chui and Granelli first met in 2012, they felt an immediate connection and
discovered a parallel approach to improvisation. Over the years, that synergy grew as they shared their ideas and techniques through numerous collaborations, performances and workshops. That symbiotic relationship opened the door to new practices, dissolving the boundaries of dance and music and revealing the potential of interdisciplinary art. Where Dance and Music Meet expands their work with a new generation of artists.

One reason why people like improvised music is that it’s a direct reflection of life, not something we thought up. It scares you… makes you think you’re going to die for a moment… do you have the courage to play? Can I move out of my desires and wants and into compositional choices? – Jerry Granelli

Co-created by six fellow CMW faculty members – J. Anthony Granelli (Granelli’s son), Ross Burns, Doug Cameron, Nick Dourado, Andrew MacKelvie and Nicholas Maclean – the group has worked closely for nearly a decade, each with a connection to Granelli and his teachings. Blurring the boundaries between dance and music, dancer and musician, the full-length performance features a cast of 19 artists exploring the potential of spontaneous composition.

Members of the cast of Where Dance and Music Meet (left to right): Andrew Jackson and Sam Penner; Susanne Chui and Doug Cameron; Solène Bernier, I’thandi Munro, Sam Penner. Photos by Kevin MacCormack.
Members of the cast of Where Dance and Music Meet (left to right): Andrew Jackson and Sam Penner; Susanne Chui and Doug Cameron; Solène Bernier, I’thandi Munro, Sam Penner. Photos by Kevin MacCormack.

Originally intended as a collaboration between Granelli and Chui, its creation was put on hold when Granelli became sick in 2020 and later postponed after his death in July 2021. When re-envisioning the work, Chui contacted her CMW co-faculty members to join her in exploring their connection with Granelli and interdisciplinary improvisation.

Collaborating with each core composer, Chui has created a series of “forms” for dance and music pieces, providing a starting point for the performers to improvise, interact, and develop each piece together at the moment, allowing them to switch between dancing and playing music freely.

Mocean Dance and 1313 Music Association present Where Dance and Music Meet at St. Andrew’s United Church (6036 Coburg Rd, Halifax) on March 31 and April 1. The April 1 performance will also be live-streamed. Visit moceandance.com for tickets and information.

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