Our new Music Fellow now has a sense of ‘Perpetual Movement’ in her music

My first months at Rambert have already given me a new way of hearing music: I now listen, play and compose with dance in mind. It is strange that classically-trained musicians do not constantly think about corporeal motion, considering that live music is produced using our bodies (and is based on biorhythms in many cultures). Musicians can learn from dancers’ energy and awareness here.

Visiting the Perpetual Movement exhibition at the Lowry in Salford, joining Rambert on tour, talking with as many creators as possible (including Mark Baldwin, Paul Hoskins, Julie Cunningham, Quinta, Michaela Zimmer, Liam Francis, and Gregory Warren Wilson): these experiences have helped me to reflect on how I can learn to create a sense of perpetual movement in my music. Some composers use fast, repetitive rhythms to do this, but it is hard for choreographers to work with music that leaves no breathing space or conversational room for dance. I think perhaps the best music for dance is that which has a feeling of being alive and charged with energy, without suffocating the choreography, flattening natural dance rhythms, or giving the audience an information overload. Silence does not necessarily mean stillness, as contemporary dance often proves!

I began researching movement and music earlier in 2016, looking at Alston, Bausch, Laban and Dalcroze among others. My first stepping stone towards hearing music as perpetual movement was this summer at the Cohan Collective, a residency with Bob Cohan and Eleanor Alberga where composers, choreographers, musicians and dancers worked together in the studio. Collaboration is key to creating fresh work in which composers are thinking physically, choreographers are thinking musically, and both are working on structure, form, shape, line, phrasing, breath and energy.

In December I worked with Pierre Tappon (Rambert dancer) and Peter Leung (Creative Associate with Dutch National Ballet), with guidance from Peggy Olislaegers (Rambert’s Artistic Associate since 2015). We explored power dynamics and taboos in the creative process, using improvisation to subvert and challenge our normal working methods. Musical ideas initiated and inspired movements and vice versa. It felt natural, if challenging, to create music alongside dance.

Paul Hoskins’s initiative for 2017, Rambert Connects, will bring together composers and choreographers with the aim of fostering greater understanding between these arts. I am excited about further conversations and discoveries in the coming year. Thanks to all at Rambert for welcoming me this autumn, and Happy 2017!

Anna Appleby Music Fellow 2016 – 17

Made by Palace