Molissa Fenley and Company


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BEAMS - 2014
Premiered on April 1, 2014 at the Mills College Art Museum, two shows, 5pm and 6:30pm. Music by Alvin Curran.


BEAMS is a structured improvisation piece composed by Alvin Curran for upwards of 15 musicians playing primarily acoustic instruments and objects. For this particular performance at the Mills College Art Museum, Curran wrote a series of instructions to be interpreted by his musicians and sent those to Fenley. Fenley, in turn, reconfigured the musical instructions into a dance language that could be interpreted by her dancers. This new collaboration between Fenley and Curran introduces a new and exciting layer to Currans’ original piece and also to both artists’ well-established, creative processes.

Molissa's instructions to dancers:
Each instruction is 3 minutes in length. Signal to change is sound of a long slow pass of pole against floor
 - 1. Balance beam – stability, equilibrium, steadiness
 - 2. Build a structure with pieces of wood or bamboo poles – construct, erect, assemble, make, form, create, support, I-beam
  - 3. Directional flow of particles – transmit, way, route, course, line, run, orientation
  - 4. A ray of light from a flashlight - shine, radiate, give off light
  - 5. A series of transmissions – transmit, relay, emit, send/put out, direct, aim
  - 6. On track – on the path, pathway, trail, course
  - 7.  Off track – off the path, pathway, trail, course
 - 8.  Transport someone instantaneously to another place, “Beam me up, Scotty” – carry, take, transfer, move, shift, send
 - 9. Keeled over on its side – capsize, turn upside down, flip over, tip over
10. Brace – prop, support, hold up, strength, reinforce, tighten
 - END – long slow pass of pole

Alvin's instructions to musicians:
1.    WALKING: take 3-10 STEPS- in silence - in any direction(s). STOP and PLAY 1 long, loud, full beautiful tone (10-20 seconds) continue repeating this action walk-stop-play for duration of this section.
2.    LYING DOWN: Lie Down On the Ground (in a comfortable position on side, back or stomach), play melodically very quietly and continuously; pause at will and continue as before. ca 45 seconds before the end of this section begin to repeat a single tone (quietly) in irregular pulsed patterns - no crescendo!
3.    Walking in Silence (5-20 steps) Stop and Play 2-5 freely chosen (not too long) tones. Hold (sustain) the last one as long as possible. Continue repeating this action!
Chorus – after one minute of silence will enter singing “melodically” (each on their own invented melody) very quietly and constantly, continuing in a huge crescendo singing as loudly as possible!
Big Melodic Crescendo MEL
BASKET
4. Stand Up/Stand Still
Make instrumental pops/ticks/honks/squeaks/ short-loud- tones/constantly in irregular-intermittent gestures. CHORUS: HUM VERY QUIETLY WHILE WALKING AND DRIBBLING Basket Balls!
CHAIR!
5. WALK IN SILENCE (15-30 paces) Sit down on the ground and HUM A LONG
CONSTANT UNISON TONE! ALVIN / soloist will push a chair around the space. 6. DROP METAL while Walking! Each player Drops metal objects 3-5 times, anytime
During the duration of this section
7. LAY ON THE GROUND – AC solo 3 Bass Drums
INSTRUMENTS alternate any 2 tones freely chosen play them long + sustained/mf
When CHORUS enters INSTRUMENTS STOP! Chorus sings loud conducted random chords! On 1 Long and/or medium long breaths – group director cues entrances and cut-offs! Meanwhile Alvin/or soloist walks around the space occasionally striking one of the 3 concert- bass drums.
8. WALK/STOP/PLAY as before: Here play very simple short gestures toward end of section,
Repeat tone last tone continuously like honking a car-horn in a traffic-jam!
CHORUS improvises very long tones in crescendo –ONE TONE PER CHORD –pause repeat.
9. HARMONICAS - play quietly standing still or turning – breathe in / breathe out easily and continuously.
10. SHOFAR SOLO: PLAY SING FREELY/LONG TONES ON HARMONIC SERIES “G” FUNDAMENTAL.  End.


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