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Music and dance through beer goggles

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Charles Hazlewood

Award-Winning Conductor

Ahead of a showcase of the latest project he has worked on, award-winning conductor Charles Hazlewood talks music, dance, technology and the power of their collaborative convergence.

I’ve been all around the world directing music and dance scores, but I don’t think I’ve ever danced with a beer bottle. This Thursday and a little closer to home, audiences will be able to do just that, as they’ll bear witness to the latest Music and Sonic Art residency showcase from Bristol’s Watershed and Pervasive Media Studios.
Dances from the Guerilla Dance ProjectThe showcase is a culmination of three months’ collaboration between choreographer Laura Kriefman, contemporary music composer Tim Bamber, and games designer Robin Ray on a cross-disciplinary project taking in music, dance and game theory, resulting in a dance that’s not just a performance, but an interactive and reactive experience, guided by digitally-enhanced objects and members of the general public.
I first became involved with the residency back in February, having just launched Abstractions and Refractions with the Army of Generals, or what I call some of the most talented instrumentalists in the UK today. The project was about making creative connections between traditional and contemporary music, something I spent many an hour debating with Watershed’s Head of Programme, Mark Cosgrove.
Mark helped me identify a real need for collaboration between different art disciplines. Being a conductor and a music director, it can be tempting to delve ever deeper into music, without seeing the potential to explore and learn through other forms of art too, and I have spent my career exploring ways to include visual media and movement to counteract different music pieces. If an audience has visual stimulation while listening to music their experience can feel completely different through a newly achieved symbiosis.
While Abstractions and Refractions has been about playing eighteenth century music and weaving through a contemporary response, the Music and Sonic Arts residency is about refreshing one’s approach to music as a whole. What does dance have to say about music? What happens when you introduce technologies with a life of their own to a musical score and choreographed dance?

The artists who won the residency have been truly inspiring. Laura Kriefman, who founded the Guerilla Dance Project, is known for creating stimulating dance experiences that permeate the most everyday and prosaic activities such as commuting and having a cup of tea, and it’s been an extraordinary journey watching a symbiotic relationship develop between her, musician Tim Bamber and games guru Robin Ray. Each have a different language, and their own unique approach, but it was only through coming together that they could explore something quite unpredictable and exciting.
And the result? Beer bottles that make music and dance. Bristol is in for a treat this Thursday evening.

Charles Hazlewood is an advisor for the Music and Sonic Art Residency, part of Watershed Artist Residencies 2011, showcased at 6.30pm on Thursday 9 June at Watershed Cinema in Bristol. Free tickets are available from Watershed’s website.

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