Fall Arts Celebration marries music and dance

GVSU alumnus composes score for Kun-Yan Lin/Dancers

By Claire Fisher | 11/1/15 9:34pm

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GVL / Emily Frye Fall Arts Performances


Bringing live music and dance together on stage may seem like a natural pairing, but for participants in this year’s Fall Arts Celebration dance event it presents a few challenges. It also creates unique opportunities to bring artists together to collaborate.

The Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers will visit Grand Valley State University for a collaborative performance with GVSU’s New Music Ensemble at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 2 in the Louis Armstrong Theatre in the Performing Arts Center. The Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers are a contemporary Asian-American dance company from Philadelphia founded by Kun-Yang Lin.

Daniel Rhode, a GVSU music education alumnus, was asked to compose the music for the event. He said that as a composer, this experience was unique. He worked with Lin to compose music for the dance, as opposed to the typical experience of dance being designed around already existing music.

“It’s really fun and difficult going in between music and dance,” Rhode said. “Music and dance are very closely related, but going in between the two is moving from one abstract concept to another abstract concept. How that lines up is a little bit different each time.”

Rhode said he and Lin were in contact frequently, sending content back and forth, to help create something that matched up well. Rhode said Lin would send him pictures and stories to help Rhode understand the emotion that Lin wanted the dance and music to convey.

“(Lin) had a very specific emotion that he was trying to convey through the dance,” Rhode said. “He recently moved his dance company from New York to Philadelphia and he said he felt like he was in a giant crossroads. This tension of being at this crossroad in his life and had all these parts just coming together; that was inspiration for one of the pieces.”

For Rhode, this project represents a crossroads of many aspects in his career coming together.

“The simplest thing that I get is that this project is a crossroad between new music, techno and dance.” Rhode said. “It’s really cool that this is my alma mater and it’s a really cool crossroads between all these different things that I’ve been working on.”

Professor Carrie Morris said that bringing dance together with live music presents a necessity for communication between the two.

“When an instrument is played there’s a vibration with it, you feel it physically differently in your body,” Morris said. “Every time you play with live music, there are always going to be differences in how it’s played and how it’s performed. It requires you to have to adjust to that. It’s a conversation that’s happening back and forth between the musicians and the dancers.”

Having taken classes from Lin while in graduate school at Temple University, Morris said that she is excited for dance students to get the chance to experience high quality dance during this performance as well as Lin’s unique style of bringing together eastern dance influences to western dance techniques.

“Lin blends in a more eastern aesthetic so the movement is very controlled; it has almost a silky quality to it,” Morris said. “He mentions being inspired by elements of zen and then he fuses that with the technical western concert dance vocabulary of ballet and modern in a really interesting way that I don’t think we get to see a lot of in contemporary dance.”

Morris said she would describe Lin’s dance style as “mesmerizing” and “balanced.” Because of its mesmerizing quality, Morris said this performance will appeal to a broad audience.

“I think this is going to be a performance that’s very accessible,” Morris said. “Sometimes modern dance can be very esoteric and very abstract, and I think this is one that you can enjoy just the pure beauty of it. It’s going to be just a visually very arresting performance.”

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