On Sunday, January 25th at 3:30 pm, “Vision of Sound” came to Brehmer Theater. The show combined original compositions with original dance routines, resulting in a vibrant presentation of modern music and its visual potential.
The show ran for roughly one and a half hours and was made up of six separate compositions/dance routines: “Dance Divas,” featuring the piece “3 Preludes to Missing the Point” by Doug Opel and a choreographed routine by Cheryl Wilkins-Mitchell; “Evocations,” featuring the piece “Ghost Signals” by Mark Volker and a choreographed routine by Donna Davenport; “Link,” featuring the piece
“Link” by Jen Bellor and a choreographed routine by Courtney World; “Withhold/Rejoin,” featuring the piece “No Strings Attached” by Marc Mellits and a choreographed routine by Jenny Showalter; “Suite For Jules,” featuring the piece “Suite for Jules” by Mark Olivieri and a choreographed routine by Jenny Showalter; and “Dancing With the Devil”, featuring the piece “Dancing With the Devil” by Dana Wilson and a choreographed routine by Suzanne Oliver.
The musical pieces displayed a great deal of diversity. Some, such as “3 Preludes to Missing the Point” delved into familiar Jazz/Blues oriented territory, while others, such as “Ghost Signals”, explored new territory through experimentation. The dance numbers and costumes complemented the music both thematically and stylistically, acting as a bridge for the audience’s understanding of and interaction with the compositions. Rhythms that generally would have been alienating to or hidden from first time listeners came alive almost immediately due to the dancers’ motions, with abrupt changes in dynamics accentuated by the sudden slowing or quickening of the dancers’ pace.
The show brought together composers and choreographers from all over New York state, including Colgate’s own Assistant Professor of Music Mark Volker, composer of “Ghost Signals,” the show’s second (and arguable the best) composition.
“[Teacher of Voice and Artist-in-Residence] Neva Pilgrim, also from Colgate, invited me to be a part of the project, at which point I applied for a grant to support me while composing the new piece.” Volker said. “[Choreographer] Donna Davenport, had already been involved with ‘Vision of Sound’ and wanted to work with someone who employed a lot of contrast in their music. The program put her in touch with me, and I let what she said inform me while I was writing the piece and vice versa for her dance routine. Mostly, though, we did our own things and watched it all come together in the end.”
Volker’s piece is a haunting collage of echoing melodies, the instruments often following each other while adding slight delays and musical variations that create an eerie, off-kilter sense of repetition.
“The title ‘Ghost Signals’ is sort of multi-faceted,” Volker said. “I was working with the idea of ‘ghost signals’ as referring to radio or television signals that bounce off of things and wind up getting duplicated on the screen or over the air. Also, though, I think the music has a sort of ghostly, spooky quality to it, one that takes the title in a more supernatural direction.”
Davenport’s accompanying dance routine was marked by a sense of spontaneity, as she invited three audience volunteers onto the stage to dance with her, playing off their movements while simultaneously sticking to her own pre-planned routine.
“Donna’s concept was risky,” Volker said, “because you never know who’s going to get on stage and what they’re going to do when they get there. In the end, though, I think it worked out well.”