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Saturday, May 18
The Indiana Daily Student


Student-produced “Hammer and Nail” opens this weekend

Composers from the Jacobs School of Music and dancers from the IU Contemporary Dance Program have been working all year to present this weekend’s performance of live music and dance at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

“Hammer and Nail” features two evenings of original compositions performed live by musicians and set to modern dance choreography. Everything is composed, performed and directed by IU students, both undergraduate and graduate.

Two separate programs will feature seven pieces each. Between the programs, the audience is encouraged to use dinner coupons from participating downtown restaurants, which attendees will receive after donating food items to the Hoosier Hills Food Bank. The event advertises two evenings of “Dance-Dine-Donate,” according to posters.

“It’s about building community,” said Selene Carter, visiting guest lecturer in the Contemporary Dance Program. “Artists don’t exist in a vacuum.”

The collaborative process began at the beginning of the fall semester.

The students met in a “speed dating” event, where they had less than five minutes to meet one another, discuss general ideas about the tempo and mood of their work-to-be, share their outlook and interests and move on to the next “date.”

When the event was over, officers in the Student Composers Association played matchmaker.

David Werfelmann, one of the association’s officers and a graduate student, said there is a long history of collaboration between composers and dancers through operas and musicals, but the music school does not provide many opportunities for working together directly.

“The idea of ‘Hammer and Nail’ is to combine the composition department with another department,” he said. “Part of the SCA’s objective is to get the composer’s work outside of the music school.”

Once composers and choreographers are matched, the composer has until early February to finish the piece. Meanwhile, choreographers hold auditions for dancers in their works. The composer then gives the choreographer an electronic copy of the piece, and the choreographer works on putting the dance together.

Throughout the process, the two meet to discuss the progress of the work and the essence of what they want to communicate.

In her book “The Art of Making Dances,” Doris Humphrey writes, “The ideal relationship (between the choreographer and music) is like a happy marriage in which two individuals go hand-in-hand, but are not identical twins.”

This is the kind of relationship that Utam Moses, a junior dance major, and Jonn Sokol, a graduate student in composition, have formed this year. The pair will perform “A Strange Peace,” a work about melancholy hope based on a poem by Gunnar Ekelof.

“It developed organically,” Sokol said as he explained how he met with Moses while composing and discussed the emotions they wanted to convey. Those conversations helped him see the poem with more layers and create what he calls a musical “barren wasteland of metallic resonance.”

“We were influencing each other all the time,” Moses said. “Trust is a big part of it.”
This notion of true collaboration, Carter said, is what they want to communicate in “Hammer and Nail.”

“There’s something so beautiful to be had with two people coming together for a common goal,” she said. “The whole is greater than the two halves. This is not just one person’s vision, but coming together.”

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