To begin my research I had to plan out the two different collaborative performances that were presented to the audience. The first music and dance work presented was based on the theory of Merce Cunningham and John Cage where music and dance can be shown in the same time and space but be created independently from one another, having no relation other than that they start and end at the same time.
For this work a composer had created a musical piece for flute, clarinet, and piano. She did not see the dance that was to be performed with this music, nor did she know at the time where it would be performed, so she was not able to relate the music to the space or the dance in any way. I choreographed a dance work including six dancers that would be presented in the concert to the composed music. This dance piece had no relationship to the music other than having a running time length the same as the music. Also, the dance was created in a studio space, not in a garden (where the concert was held), just as the music had no initial relationship to the space, the dance would also have the same parameters.
The music and dance for this piece were performed together for the first time at the final showing, so the dancers would not find connections between the music and their movements. The piece was presented with the music and dance together at a concert as Part I with a survey directly following the piece. I planned to not listen to this musical selection in advance in order not to be biased myself in trying to relate the choreography to the music. In order to keep the choreography truly separate I used material I had previously choreographed from other works, then reworked this material together with new choreography to create a dance completely from a chance method. This also prevented me from being influenced by the space the concert would take place in.
The second piece was from a different approach entirely. The composer created the new music based on an outdoor inner courtyard that was a lush garden, and the characters the dancers would become, and the movements I choreographed we be created to fit this environment. I choreographed the second piece with inspiration from the sounds and the shapes of the space, as well as from the music as it was being composed. Being able to hear the music and see the dance in progress, as well as being able to rehearse in the garden itself, was all a help in making the work a complete collaborative effort. This section became Part II of the concert, and the audience was asked to fill out another survey containing the same criteria they used to evaluate Part I. My hope was that the collaborative process would be viewed as more integrated with music and movement than the first selection where the works were created completely separately. Also, since Part I was created in the studio and Part II in the garden itself, I was curious to see if this would be recognized by the audience.
Both pieces were presented in the concert as a cohesively themed work inspired by the garden itself. Every dancer in the concert was given a specific character to play, fitting into the theme of a fantasy world found in a garden. There was a Water nymph, a Cat, a Flower, a Faun, a Wood Nymph, a Bird. There was a narrated pre-show where the characters were introduced with fictional biographical information to set the story for the concert. The costumes and make-up were fashioned to transform each dancer into the character they were supposed to represent. The musicians and the duet dancers from the Interlude (which was not a choreographic study for the experiment but would serve as a break for the six dancers in the main pieces) were dressed in black to contrast the bright colors of the group of six character dancers. Everyone wore his or her costume for the entire concert so the audience would not be biased to set or costume changes between Part I and Part II. In hopes of keeping the playing field equal between the two pieces, the instrumentation remained the same with piano, flute and clarinet for both compositions, and the number of dancers was the same. The choreography and composition were in the same vein as well since I choreographed using a similar movement vocabulary for both. All elements were woven into one perceived seamless show and each time during the concert, when it was time for the audience to fill out a survey, the Survey Fairy (another character fully costumed in the performance) would direct the audience to fill out the appropriately colored survey and would collect all of the surveys after the documentary reveal was completed. These surveys would serve as a tangible means for me to collect that data I would use to make conclusions about how the audience perceives each work.
During the rehearsal preparation I video taped the process to create a documentary for the audience to see the process behind the performance. I interviewed the dancers as well about how each process was completed and their personal feelings. Then I was able to collect and analyze the data from the audience and from the performers' interviews to see if one process was more effective than another and how the final product was viewed based on the process behind a work. The next blog will discuss the process and data collection.