I have been taking part in these sessions, a couple a year, for a number of years now and find them very rewarding. In my experience, the challenges for the musician in undertaking this type of group improvisation with dancers, are similar than working with just the musicians. Everyone needs to be aware of everyone else, everyone needs to be listening and crucially for this work, watching.
I do a lot of literal following of the movements of the dancers. Picking up on their energy and rhythm. Trying to play in a supportive way, if they are half way through a series of movements then you don't stop etc. You also have to be aware that making the movements is physically exhausting and to make sure to have down time or parts where the dancers can rest. Reading energy in the ideas is really important - is this bit/idea/section(!) good enough to carry on or should it be brought to a close? Lastly (for now) be aware that dancers are trained to respond to rhythm. If it is clearly presented they will latch on to it. I tend to combine defined rhythmic and much more open material.
To be continued...
CBS and UCLan dancers Nov 30th 2017
Thanks to Sam BW and Iori for the clip
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I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!