The Music Room
One part dance, one part art and one part tech, The Music Room is an unusual project. A strange and beautiful blend of old media and new technology, The Music Room is best described as a contemporary dance and interactive media project.
The piece is an experiment answering the question: what would it sound like if a non-musician was suddenly able to make an interpretation of a piece of music simply by moving around in a room? The basic function of the technology used in The Music Room is to respond to the movement of people in the room by altering the tempo and volume of the soundtrack: the two basic variables in musical performance.
Choreographer Denise Duric has created a piece for dancers Danielle Baskerville and Heidi Strauss in the Music Room space. As the choreographer and dancers' roles expand beyond traditional staging limits, they transform a recorded piece of music into a live one. On this stage the dancers don't follow the music: they control it.
The idea is unusual but not novel. What is unique about The Music Room is its blending of old and new media. The music in the project, for example, is a look back at that old innovator, Erik Satie. And Duric's very human choreography has been inspired in part by Art Nouveau artist Egon Schiele. Sharing a stage with this older world are three G4s, two digital video cameras, a video projection and some very current computer software managed by interactive media artist Jeremy Rotsztain. As the project's Artistic Director, Jessica Sarrazin's role is to guide the combination of these two realms, producing a piece that works on many different levels.
Danielle Baskerville, Dancer
Born in Quebec, Danielle Baskerville began her dance training in Victoria, BC, before attending the final two years of the School of Toronto Dance Theatre's Professional Training Program as a scholarship student. Upon graduation, she was invited to join David Earle's Dancetheatre and has been a featured member of the company for the past six years. She has performed in over twenty new works by Earle across Ontario and throughout the West Coast of Canada and has played a pivotal role in the revival and teaching of past repertoire. She has also worked with many of Canada's leading choreographers, including D.A. Hoskins, Michael Sean Marye, Kate Alton and Julia Sasso.
Denise Duric, Choreographer
Denise Duric is a graduate of York University's Dance Department. In 1989 she and Janet Johnson formed Pedestrian Waltz Dance Project in which they created many site-specific and stage pieces. Denise's work has been shown at the Canada Dance Festival, DanceWorks, Dancing at the Edge and First Night Toronto. Since Pedestrian Waltz, Duric has choreographed for many venues including Series 8:08, DanceWorks, Guelph contemporary Dance Festival and Dusk Dances. She has also danced for some of Canada's leading independent choreographers.
Jeremy Rotsztain, Interactive Media Artist
Stunted by the creative limitations of popular music ever since his father bought him Wang Chung's Mosaic cassette in 1986, Rotsztain is now developing responsive systems for audio and video composition that incorporate gestural control and customized interfaces. Rotsztain is also working on spatial video-mixing software that will be released in the upcoming months. Visit his website for more information.
Jessica Sarrazin, Artistic Director
A graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design, Jessica Sarrazin usually works in the realm of photo-based installation. An early education in ballet and music left her with an appreciation for dance and the music of Erik Satie. In her thesis year at OCAD, she began including movement in her work, combining video with her photo-based projects. She has had many exhibitions of her work and has performed as a cellist with Shadowland Theatre and with other performance-art projects. Sarrazin is currently preparing for two years of study at the University of Windsor in pursuit of her Master's Degree in Fine Art.
Heidi Strauss, Dancer
At sixteen, Heidi Strauss co-founded a company in her hometown of Sudbury that performed benefit concerts for environmental groups and still exists today. She began her training as a scholarship student at the School of the Toronto Dance Theatre and has also studied in Winnipeg, New York, Berlin and Vienna. Strauss has performed in the works of many Canadian choreographers. Besides choreographing for film, Strauss' own work has been presented by Danceworks at DuMaurier Theatre, the Tarragon Theatre, Series 8:08 and Dances for a Small Stage. Her choreographic explorations have blended text and movement.