“Cheap Imitation”: works with dance, and Cage-inspired works

Monday, September 10
7–9 p.m.

  • no. 8 (I. This. You. This)- set to Cheap Imitation – solo dance
  • SWARM! – structured improvisation for prepared piano or disklavier, by Melinda Faylor/Loren Groenendaal
  • Cartridge Music – Cage’s music for “amplified small sounds”
  • Suite for Toy Piano – toy piano
  • Installment 2, choreographed and performed by Loren Groenendaal, sound design by Flandrew Fleisenberg performed by Melinda Faylor

Artists: Justin Tornow, Melinda Faylor, Monika Haar, Vervet Dance Company (Ray Beck, Loren Groenendaal, Celine McBride, Amanda Mottur, Katelyn Reiersen, Barbara Tait, Kana Takahashi)

The Secret Theatre

44-02 23rd St, Long Island City, NY 11101
bet. 44th Av & 44th Rd
Subway: E/M to 23rd St—Ely Ave, 7 to 45th Rd—Court House Sq, G to Court Sq
(718) 392-0722

$15 at the door or through Brown Paper Tickets
$60 for a Festival Pass

Swarm! (2012) is a structured improvisation inspired by both the aleatoric interests and prepared piano use of John Cage’s music as well as the swarming behavior of locusts. The dancers change from my isolated creatures to more gregarious entities just as locusts become more sociable as their serotonin levels increase. The design of the dance structure follows the same pattern that the locusts inhabit. The improvisatory nature of the score encourages just enough chaos to keep this artwork present and more like the moment to moment reality that the locusts live. Further, this blurring of art and life, presentation and presence is in keeping with interests of John Cage, a prolific artist of much inspiration for the artists behind Swarm!, Melinda Faylor (composer and pianist) and Loren Groenendaal (dance score designer and performer).

Cartridge Music (1960) Music for amplified small sounds. The word ‘Cartridge’ refers to the cartridge of old phonographic pick-ups, where one can put needle into the apertures. In ‘Cartridge Music’ one inserts all kinds of small objects into the cartridges, such as pipe-cleaners, matches, feathers, wires etc. Furniture is used as well, with contact microphones connected to them. All sounds are to be amplified and controlled by the performer(s). Each performer makes his part from the materials provided: 20 numbered sheets with irregular shapes (the number of shapes corresponding to the number of the sheet) and 4 transparencies, one with points, one with circles, another with a circle marked like a stopwatch and the last with a dotted curving line, with a circle at one end. These transparencies should be superimposed on one of the 20 sheets, in order to create a constellation from where one can create one’s part.

Cage wrote his Suite for Toy Piano (1948) at Black Mountain College in North Carolina for Merce Cunningham’s Diversion. Its five short movements use only nine consecutive white notes. As such it can ostensibly be played on virtually any toy piano, even one with painted black keys. One of the most charming and whimsical of his compositions, it is filled with Cagean irony and humor, as in the exaggerated dynamic extremes from sffz to ppp. As if a toy piano could have such capabilities! Nonetheless, the pianist tries his best and from the effort subtle differences emerge. - Margaret Leng Tan

Like numerous other works by Cage, Cheap Imitation (1947) was a result of his collaboration with Merce Cunningham’s dance company. However, in this case the original choreography relied not on Cage’s music, but on a piano arrangement of Erik Satie’s symphonic drama Socrate. In 1947 Cunningham made a dance based on the first movement of Satie’s work. Cheap Imitation is a piece in three parts. It consists almost exclusively of a single melodic line, with occasional doublings. The rhythmic structure of the phrases is based on Satie’s original, usually on the vocal line, occasionally on the orchestral parts. no. 8 (I. This. You. This) is a solo work accompanied by the first segment of John Cage’s Cheap Imitation for Solo Piano. After setting a vocabulary of comfortable and simple movements, I used chance operations to determine some of the structure and spatial formatting. Inspiration for the work has also come from Brion Gysin’s spoken word piece Come to Free the Words (1962;) the recorded text is said aloud while being written out on a chalkboard, which shifts the pacing of the words spoken and their effect on the listener. This prompted my thinking about the ways I tend to pace and structure the movement and dances I make, and became inspiration for me to deviate from my regular arranging style for awhile. Additionally, the dance and the accompanying work by Cage were mostly unaffiliated with one another during the rehearsal process.

Installment 2 (2011) explores how time-based dance can be sculpture, consider whether a body can be object-like without risking objectification, and expresses abstract beauty through the body in a bound space. Using a found vintage purple dress that both exaggerates and obscures the human form, the dance includes the intuitive exploration on the color purple, the drapery of the costume, and the more formal consideration of continual turning brings out a ritual-like meditation on persistence, beauty, and ongoingness in the cosmos or in an individual. Meeting the spiraling dance is a similarly incessantly turning sound design on found objects and instruments.