Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Do you hear that?

So if we're being honest, I kind of hate music.

Big statement, I know.

I used to love it, I used to be all about finding new bands, new songs, and listening to albums start to finish, over and over again. This was mostly when I was in college and had time to waste and idle time to spend with any manner of ambient background soundtrack.

                                              ...Oh, did you go to college too?

Lately, however, I've grown tired. The music on the radio has all started to sound the same to me. This is certainly not a bad thing, but I was missing the excitement and the connection that came with finding a new song. I even lost interest in trolling iTunes for the more obscure or unsung bands. It is too exhausting to find something that nobody else has heard before, only to be heartbroken and bitter when, years later, their first album is dredged up by a local pop station and convenience stores all around the city are bumping what you used to listen to in your dorm room, doing push-ups before bed.

It's not to say that I don't listen to music - I certainly do! But I find myself listening to the same few songs over and over again, until something novel tickles my ears in a crowded restaurant and I discreetly Shazam under the table.

As a dancer, naturally, music is something that remains important to me. Naturally, I most prefer melodies that I can move to, but given the glorious parameters of modern dance, even that is not necessary for a work to be used in a piece. In college, Meghan and I were challenged to use songs without English lyrics for all of our work. In a total cop out move, my first piece was done to a Spanish language pop song.

This one.

I was young and naive and new to the world of modern dance, but still feel a bit sheepish when I think of the middle school jazz routine I forced my dancers into -complete with multi-colored Soffe shorts. 

While I don't think that pop songs or songs with lyrics are inappropriate for dance, I do think they can be misleading. As a choreographer, you may find yourself doing what the lyrics tell you to, whether through gesture, or through the cadence of your movement. As an audience member, you may find yourself being told the story of the song, rather than that of the dance. Sometimes, obviously, a song is perfect because it tells the story that you want, and it's popular and great and everyone likes your dance and you win. 

For the piece I'm currently stewing over, I plan on using two songs, both have lyrics, both are reasonably "pop"ish. Pretty "pop"ish. Okay, one of them is by Kesha. 

I'm doing this partially because these two songs in particular lend themselves to my artistic vision in various ways (duh) but also because it will be a challenge. I feel like my biggest modern dance cop-out is the idea of "if it's weird, it's art, "and I don't want that to be the case this time. (Not saying it's won't be weird. No promises. It's probably going to be pretty weird.)

Last night, I gave Meghan and Molly some "homework." Concepts to ponder while I piece this piece together. Me, I've been listening to the two songs in tandem, deciding what it is I want the movement to say, or rather, how I will use the movement to say what the three of us will want to say. 

I won't post what the songs are (though I am sure you're all ITCHING to know!) because I feel it's a little haughty (and somewhat foreboding) to talk too much about a piece before it's finished started. But I will include a catchy pop song that I recently heard, and that may actually be cool, as well!

Cheers, friends!