Music and dance, though perceived to be completely distinct disciplines, are actually complementary. The Choreographers and Composers Concert, an event that showcases the talents of Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and Thornton School of Music students, will present the students’ original works — developed over the past several weeks — starting Wednesday.
The event is one of the first collaborations between the student dancers and artists from these respective programs, a unique opportunity for USC artists to thrive, as they merge their innovative minds together to create a truly authentic performance.
The event was organized by Thomas McManus and Sean Friar. His intention was to bring the two departments together so that these young artists could gain insight into the creative processes of artists in vastly different disciplines. McManus and Friar gathered 33 student choreographers and seven student composers to collaborate for the event.
“It started out with the composers presenting their music to the dancers and choreographers,” said Logan Nelson, a sophomore majoring in music composition. “We showed them some pieces and just talked with them about what interests us.”
Evidently, this was an extremely organic process — both the musicians and dancers were encouraged to hone in on their specific interests in order to maximize their creative opportunities with other student performers.
The students were encouraged to express their artistic tastes before deciding who they would work with for the performance. As a result, both groups found individuals best suited for their designated talents and artistic goals. From there, the dancers were given the opportunity to select which composers they felt suited their choreographic styles and preferred musical genre.
Before presenting their compositions to the dancers, however, the Thornton musicians also collaborated closely with their colleagues in the composing process. Some even worked to create pieces that combined seemingly unusual combinations of instruments and sounds.
“I started out this project working very closely with the talented violinist junior Maddy Manasse,” Nelson said. “We worked together to sample unique and interesting violin textures that I later produced into electronic elements for the piece. I’ll be triggering these electronic elements live and playing piano while also incorporating a live drummer and violinist.”
According to the students, this collaborative process was very much in line with what they’ve been learning in their respective departments, especially as they prepare to launch their artistic careers beyond USC. Beyond sheer professional applicability, however, choreographers and composers served as a vital muse for the performers as they created their original pieces.
“For me, collaboration is a major inspiration for my music,” Nelson said. “Whether it be with a filmmaker, musician, playwright or dancer, I believe that when art is combined it creates more powerful art.”
The student performers have prepared a wide variety of material, including dances set to rappers as well as more traditional vocalists. In addition, the musicians will use an array of instruments, some of which include the drums, a violin, a pipe organ and an accordion. The performance will be presented twice, starting Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and concluding Thursday at the same time. Admission is free, and reservations are required.
The Kaufman and Thornton students participating in the event are eager to not only their work, but also to gain more experience undertaking such collaborative projects in the future.
“I’m really excited for the performance,” Nelson said. “It’s truly one of the coolest projects I’ve ever been a part of.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the event’s name as “Choreographers and Composers Night.” The event’s actual name is “Choreographers and Composers Concert.” The article also stated Dean Robert Cutietta organized the event. The organizers of the event were actually Thomas McManus and Sean Friar. The Daily Trojan regrets the errors.