You would never think to connect contemporary ballet and indie rock together.
Well think again.
Chris Kasperâ€™s unique project is sure to surprise both indie and ballet enthusiasts.
Musician Chris Kasper teams up with choreographer Adam Houghland to create an original dance for Ballet Xâ€™s Summer Series. The two art forms converge to express emotion that each aspect single-handedly cannot emanate.
Read about this project below.
Philadelphia is a small town and a big city. Paths cross and diverge; connections lost can be discovered in the unlikeliest places. So it was when I encountered an old friend at Fergieâ€™s Pub: locally famous and nationally renowned musician Chris Kasper. We shared decades-old memories and Chris told me about his latest project: providing live accompaniment to the Summer Series, by premier Philadelphia dance troupeÂ BalletX, whose work I frequently write about and whose Spring Series Iâ€™d just seen the week before. Philly.
…Heâ€™s now recorded five albums, paid his dues with years of cross-country tours, shared the stage with Amos Lee, The Avett Brothers, The Wood Brothers, and other major acts, and is regularly heard on WXPN and other independent radio stations. British-based Texan choreographer Adam Houghland came across Chrisâ€™s most recent album,Â Bagabones, when he was thinkingÂ about making an original dance for BalletX with a Philadelphia musician.
â€œI feel Chris has a sensitivity to his writing and a vulnerability that I am always searching for in my own work,â€ Houghland says. Created with dancers and musicians in the same space, Houglandâ€™s world premiere balletÂ will explore the juxtaposition of the art forms as contemporary ballet and indie rock converge. I reconnected with Chris to ask him about hisÂ experience working on this sure-to-be-awesome project.
Christopher Munden:Â So how did this endeavorÂ with BalletX come about?
CK: From what I understand, Adam Hougland came across my music somehow, in particular my recordÂ Â Bagabones, and heard something in it that inspired him. He gave me call and I was on board immediately.
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CPM:Â What challenges do dancers and musicians share?
CK: The rehearsals, individual practice, staying with it when you feel blue or things arenâ€™t living up to your standards, maintaining correct focus so when it comes time to perform, you can push your mind out of the way and rely on the greater forces of yourself to take over. And this leads to the shared joys of being well prepared for a performance, reaching that state of no mind while remaining physically involved.
CPM:Â What has surprised you most about working with the dancers and choreographers?
CK:Â Their commitment is amazing. The dancers rehearse for endless hours everyday, working on the subtleties of the rhythm and how to move through it, using the space and each other to guide them into the next form. The expression of emotion through posture and facial expressions can only come with full commitment to the piece. Itâ€™s born through a true passion. What they do cannot be faked or half-assed or it would stand out.
CPM:Â Tell me about one of the songs they are dancing to andÂ what theyâ€™ve brought to it?
CK: They bring such beautiful motion to all of these tunes, but one that stood out to me was â€œBlessed Little Secretsâ€, which I always describe as a song about moving into a place with a significant other and having no furniture. The dance interprets this idea as two people act out the lyrics. It’s different from the other pieces which tend to dance around the lyrics. This one brings to light the simplicity of this idea (living a new place with nothing) and also the deeper nature of getting along with someone and having a ball, even when you have nothing. It really gets to the essence of the song.
CPM:Â What do you think youâ€™ll take away from your time with BalletX?
CK:Â Well, the band and I haveÂ made friends with the entire BalletX company and I hope that remains. I have a much greater appreciation for how far an idea can go once it leaves your brain if you put the work in. Dancers work harder than most professional athletes. That type of dedication to a performance is so inspirational. Itâ€™s also good lesson to team up with the right people because so much unexpected beauty is possible. This is also more proof that you never know what life has in store for you.
Thanks to Christopher Munden for the awesome interview! Read the rest of the article here.