Professor Lauren Kearns' piece "Akasha" (working title "Ether") grew from an interest in "Elements" (earth, air, water, fire) and the yoga concept of a generative force (ether) underlying all the other elements, a potential energy infusing all else that comes into being.
In section one of the choreography, my sense as musician was of deep universal energy. In section two I felt a sense of purposeful coordinated hard work toward the construction of patterned reality. In section three, the human (vocal) - but still primal - element arose amidst the random (thunder and the unpredictable) non-human element. In section four there was reference back to section one, a different but related repose and a return into the unending, ever-poised deep.
Pragmatically speaking, I found this piece challenging. There was just a very quick short time (compared to other music-for-choreography projects in my experience) between our first composer-choreographer strategic meeting and the actual performances, only about 5 weeks considering the interruption of Fall Break. Our first musical ideas had involved live musicians (a chamber/vocal ensemble), but as a newcomer to the area and to the college, I found "rounding up live musicians" to be far more daunting than anticipated! I guess I had been SPOILED by my years in Asheville, where fine musicians are everywhere and are accustomed to quickly jumping into whatever new projects might arise! Not so, here.
So we abandoned "Plan A, Live Musicians" and went for "Plan B": a combination of some technologically quick-n-dirty electronics (which could then quickly begin being used for rehearsals as the choreography slowly unfolded, and could continue to be manipulated along the way), to be joined in actual performance with myself and three other dancers at the downstage left corner doing live vocals and percussion with djembe and homemade "shake sticks" (made of wood dowels and chain) which could be either just shaken (as you hear at the close of the piece) or pounded (as you hear in section two).
The electronics are nothing but straight GarageBand as it comes with any Mac, nothing but copyright-free "loops."
- some "ethereal" washes, which we live folks shook chains and made wind-vocal sounds with,
- some "choral" washes, which we live folks sang with in harmony,
- some dense "percussion tracks," which we live folks pounded a contrarian 5/4 against, with the shake sticks and a djembe,
- and some carefully-timed but random-sounding "thunder plus everything but the kitchen sink" crashings which we live folks sang nasal Bulgarian-style major seconds between.
It was not a method I had ever used before - "GarageBand plus live" - but it did seem to solve the pragmatic challenges while supporting the various aspects of the four sections of the choreography.