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Being a guest Choreographer for the Mata Hari Opera Production in NY, 2017

Mata Hari (World Premiere)

January 5th-7th, and 11th-14th, at 7 PM and January 8th at 2 PM

at HERE Arts Center, New York City

part of Prototype Festival

Composer: Matt Marks
Librettist/Director: Paul Peers

It has been a journey of exploration and self-analysis being the guest choreographer for Mata Hari Opera production, sharing my creative process, inspiration, and artistic quest.

With the magic of giving shape to an idea, an emotion, or an opinion comes great responsibility. Sharing my work with others provides the ultimate fulfillment, allowing me to broaden my search and crystallize my views on whatever moves me deeply.

Like an artisan, with each choreographic section I refine and explore ideas through movement and examine how to communicate.

This is not the first time that I have choreographed an opera. Previously, I created dances for “Il Pagliacci” by the opera director Guy Ariel Kruh (Paris/France) in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1998. Later that same year I choreographed “Cavalleria Rusticana”  by Bahia Blanca Symphonic Orchestra under the direction of Eugenia Gallego in Bahia Blanca, Argentina.

I also choreographed the “Notre dame de Paris” musical in Sardegna, Italy in 2003, as well as being guest choreographer for many theater productions, TV programs, and dance companies in Argentina, Italy and USA.

In this article I would like to talk about the relationship between Dance and Music. As a choreographer and maker of metaphoric images and sensations, I understand the power of dance as a language.

How does one balance the meaning of the lyrics in the song when there is powerful movement and visual effects at the same time? Words are specific, movement is subjective.

As an audience member, there is a choice to make with your attention. Imagine someone massaging you when to are eating a piece of steak while smelling roses at the same time.

I remember my choreography teacher Mary Anthony talking about using music without lyrics, because words are your direct intellectual competitor.

What about when the lyrics are in a foreign language for that audience? Alternately, what is the effect if the lyrics and audience speak the same language?

Like husband and wife, music and dance share the same bed but are two different people choosing to live together.

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So how do I negotiate the lyrics and the music in an opera with the movements that Mata Hari evokes in me?

John Martin, in his book Modern Dance, offers some help in his thoughts about some of the relationships between music and dance.

  • Music interpretation: This is a contradictory formula, how can a dancer interpret Bach or Beethoven? The composer expresses himself sufficiently in musical form, not needing a dancing or gestural commentary. The dancer’s intention is to translate his own emotion, his own personal reaction to a determinate music. Another choice is interpreting the content of the music.
  • Transposition: visualize merely its form, translating sound patterns into movement patterns. The most tragic experience was Rite of Spring by Nijinsky, applying eurhythmics from Jacques Dalcroze.  Nijinsky divided the dancers in groups representing the different instruments of the orchestra and attributed a corresponding movement to each note.
  • Contrapuntal background:  placing movement patterns against music patterns. This is a compromise between interpretative and transposition. The music is the background and the movements are a visual counterpoint.
  • Music should merely mark the tempo and phrasing of what a choreographer wants to do using ready-made music or a specially make composition.
  • Mary Wigman, a German dancer, choreographer and notable as the pioneer of expressionist dance, proposed that the solution to this problem was that the music must be created at the same time as the dance, in a mutual collaboration between choreographer and composer.  To respect the specificity of dance, the music must be born from live movements like the dance.

For the Opera Mata Hari, music composed by Matt Marks and directed by Paul Peers, I decide to explore Contrapuntal background, as well as Music interpretation.

Transmitting my ideas as a guest choreographer working with a company for a short period of time is a delicate process. Precision, clarity of ideas, and effective synthesis help new dancers grasp my work and find the focus of their creative and interpretive search.

Working as a guest choreographer allows me to keep an open mind and heart because every company and group has its own particular architecture, ethos, and psychology. My job is to make the creative process accessible, exciting, and rewarding for both parties.

  • To Purchase tickets for Mata Hari  Opera Production CLICK HERE

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