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Lilt :The Dance

My original choreographic design for Matthew Ricketts’ piece Lilt began with musings on the word itself.  ‘Lilt’ is defined as a gentle rise and fall, an intonation or cadence with a rhythmic quality.  It seems to suggest a place of weightlessness or carefree state of drifting. To me, a place where one either speaks or moves with a ‘lilt’ is one of idyllic calm, a quiet place in the centre.

Picturing this serene, ‘lilting’ place, I began to visualize a series of circles surrounding it, which led me to the concept of the centrifuge.  Centrifugal forces are fascinating.  They act outwardly on a body rotating around a centre, its own inertia propelling it from the middle. The motionless, weightless place is the source of the power.  Its propulsion is strongly outwards, but inevitably there is a return, as if tethered to the core. Matthew and I discussed this concept as his composition took shape, investigating how it would reflect in the score and movement.

Choreographically, the piece is an abstract representation of the contrast between the ‘wheels’ or ‘cycles’ we find ourselves thrust upon at various points in our lives, and the illusive place of ‘lilt’, or floating calm in the centre. The circles we follow may be spun from that which we inflict upon ourselves, or fall within a compelled larger path, the greater wheel in which we are a cog.  Stepping off this wheel may be incredibly difficult or even associate with a certain violence.

If we do manage to get off, we may find ourselves able to embark on a more linear path, powered by our own mechanism.  This could take us to great places, though we may just as easily be pulled back into the wheel.  Ultimately, the central place of ‘lilt’, where the cadence is gentle and centrifugal forces absent, is where we hope to finally arrive.  In an existential sense, we can ask ourselves if this is a place where we are fortunate enough to arrive often in our lives?

Choreographically, I explored these states by allowing Matthew’s musical landscape to dictate the path.  There are phrases which compel the body to fall into a cyclical pattern, the agitation in the outer boundaries of the circle building to a breaking point where everything suddenly falls away into stillness.  Others suggest a repetitive, almost mechanical state within a confined or tightly structured space.  Within that musical landscape I’ve attempted to find a physical vocabulary which clearly suggests states of spinning, reaching, and of settling. I’ve had the benefit of playing with a flexible footprint on the stage, with respect to where the orchestra is placed.  Matthew, Alex and I discussed the possibility of using the stage plot to define and reflect the concept of the centrifuge, as if the music itself is dictating the shape of the movement.  It’s wonderful to have the freedom to play with the geography of the stage design.  It truly makes the piece feel as if the music and movement are not simply complementing, but drawing each other into existence.

Working with Matthew has been a great pleasure and a fascinating exploration of ideas. I’m thrilled to bring our musical and physical landscapes together with Esprit Orchestra under Alex’s baton!

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Sunday February 11, 2018 | Koerner Hall | 8pm
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