Fluid celebrated two new works by Calgary artists last night – upon black earth by Deanne Walsh (company member of Calgary’s Decidedly Jazz Danceworks) and Solo? byYukichi Hattori (principal dancer of Alberta Ballet.) What their choreography had in common was that they both included collaborations between the dance artists and live musicians onstage.

It is always interesting to consider the relationship between music and dance, especially when it happens in a live performance. Dance is often considered to be a response to music, but sometimes music can be a response to the dance that is happening onstage. In some cases, the two art forms can go back and forth and seemingly ‘talk’ to each other, but only of course when both are live. Such was the case with Deanne Walsh's upon black earth, a piece which consisted of a series of smaller vignettes – most of which included live musicians. This performance was especially engaging when Walsh, as the performer, directly interacted with the musicians onstage. upon black earth also drew influences from dances and Walsh’s own experiences in West Africa and Cuba (Walsh has studied in Guinea, Ghana, Cuba, the US and Canada).

Walsh as a choreographer has long phrases of movement that compliment her long expressive arms. When her movement is active and playful, and when Walsh seemingly lets go to be in the moment, as a live performance upon black earth becomes captivating. At a certain point the dancer joins the musicians onstage, all taking drum sticks and pounding out a rhythmic jam on the black stage…

To me, upon black earth confirmed that, when the two forms work together live, music and dance are the perfect lovers.

Hattori’s work Solo? takes inspiration from a film by Santiago Grasso, which purportedly examines humans functioning as machines. Hattori’s movement onstage is at times quick and isolated and at times nearly gravity defying. There is definitely a mechanical sense to this work, and I can only speculate that he may have also drawn his movement from the street dance he has studied in both Tokyo and New York. The Dystopians provided a layered soundscape for Solo? which both guided and was guided by Hattori’s movement onstage.bAnd this movement snaps back and forth, reminding one of a series of quick photographs. And yes, there is in fact a delightful and quite colourful surprise to draw the audience in…and again this would only work in a live performance, so don’t miss it.

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