Dance

This improvisation workshop in Chennai bridges music and movement

The improvisation workshop at March Dance 2020 hopes to bridge disciplines of dance, theatre, music and more

Dynamic. Flow. Accent. Counterpoint. These are all essential to improvisation in any art form, but do these words mean the same for a musician, a theatre artiste, a dancer or an actor?

A workshop, led by theatre practitioner and visual artist Pravin Kannanur, and musician Maarten Visser will discuss improvisation, as a mode of listening and responding between practitioners of different art forms. Open to artists and performers across disciplines, amateur or professional, this workshop is part of March Dance 2020, a contemporary dance festival organised by Basement 21 and Goethe-Institut.

“We look at improvisation as the basic process of creation,” says Pravin, explaining that it is how most artists find a way to create interesting new work. “At this workshop, we start by looking at certain concepts present in the various arts, and then work with each of those.”

Take, for instance, the concept of silence. For a musician, it fills the space between movements, and for a theatre artist, it draws rapt attention to pregnant pauses. “We will try to figure out how to best understand a concept in each of the disciplines,” says Pravin.

This improvisation workshop in Chennai bridges music and movement

Maarten will lead the musical component of this improvised collaboration. “Once I understand what these themes mean to the artist or the dancer, and I become aware of what the visual component is, I respond to it and make music along with it,” he says.

This is the second iteration of the workshop. In its first run last year, the idea of an ‘interdisciplinary dictionary’ was proposed. The terms ‘counterpoint’, ‘pulse’, ‘accent’ among others were scrutinised across practices. “We are trying to put together a dictionary of inter-disciplinary terms, though it may not be an actual physical book, but online,” says Pravin.

“The word dynamic, for instance, can be explained in its musical sense — in terms of sound. For an actor, it is the use of volume — shouted vs whispered. The equivalent for a dancer would be to work with physicality: bigger or smaller gestures,” he explains.

This year, the participants will also work with a larger compositional idea of the graphic score. “Maarten and I do something called a score painting, where he designs a graphic score to a work of mine,” he says. It is music, written visually, along with the dancers’ movement translated on canvas. Maarten explains further, “We plot pitch, lower to higher against time, so the score goes left to right. The darker the markings are, the louder it gets.” For the score last year, he plotted music along with the dancers’ movements across an auditorium.

So the person creating the graphic score will have to work with both the dancer and the musician. The workshop this time, will enable participants to create their own mini scores. This could help provide them a critical starting point for the larger tasks of directing, choreographing or even scripting.

Dancers, theatre practitioners, and musicians interested in movement and visual languages can apply to this workshop, which will be held at Goethe-Institut from March 16-March 20, and March 23-March 25. Contact mail.basement21@gmail.com to register.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 7:54:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/dance/improvisation-workshop-in-chennai-bridges-music-and-movement/article30990671.ece

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