Threads of memory - live dance


An obsession begins … music for contemporary dance…

Working with the Yellowknife Dance Collective for their show Inside Out was my first immersive experience working with choreographers and dancers. Karen Gochnauer created an incredibly personal and moving work about her mother’s struggle with dementia, and I had the honour of composing the music (for solo piano) to accompany the work. Fantastic dancer Melanie Kusznireckyj gave weight to the force and tragedy that this disease can have on mind and body but she managed to bring a gentleness to the creation that lifted the spirits of both designer and audience.

The process for this production also brought me in contact with Davida Monk, Calgary-based choreographer, who gave her wisdom and energy to the choreographic process and helped to open my eyes to the amazing potential for pairing music and dance.

With shades of sorrow, beauty and memory, this was an amazing collaborative process to be part of. One quick story from the final performance that remains a powerful memory for me…We were incorporating an old-fashioned metronome that represented the passing of time, like a ticking clock. I had to wind the metronome to make it work, and I had last wound it about a week before the shows. I forgot to wind it immediately before the premiere, which went off without a hitch. At the beginning of the second and final show, I walked to the piano in darkness, carefully set the metronome inside the grand piano, and started the ticking which was Melanie’s cue to begin. I was supposed to stop the metronome during Melanie’s final phrase, which would end in silence.

Seven days prior, I must have wound it with just enough tension that the metronome stopped on its own at exactly the right moment – as if the metronome had learnt its part in the show and knew precisely when to end the beating of ‘time’ for that character. As I walked off-stage I didn’t even realize that I had ‘missed’ turning off the metronome – it felt so natural. When I understood what had happened, I was in tears just like the audience – the power of live performance…

 Quote from dancer Melanie Kusznireckyj:

“Carmen expressed a beautiful rawness that made this piece unique. She is a wonderful musician to work with as a dancer: patient, open, and intuitive. Carmen listens and responds with courage and insight, two strong components necessary to compliment the development of dance and music. She is willing to explore and take risks, while also remaining artistically devoted to the creative process.”