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A Study of the Choreographer/Composer Collaboration

Working Paper #22, Fall 2002

Van Stiefel

This paper examines the working relationship of composers and choreographers in modern dance with attention to basic processes, barriers, and opportunities that characterize their collaborations. The paper draws its conclusions from a series of informal interviews and group discussions with musicians, choreographers, producers, presenters, and critics held at the 2000 Bates Dance Festival, as well as from the author’s own experience as a composer. By outlining a brief history of music in modern dance and dance education, along with identifying the ways in which projects combining the two genres are initiated, the author identifies the historical and institutional contexts for the experiences of his informants. Basic scenarios for collaboration are defined and the opinions of participants examined regarding the perceived advantages and disadvantages of each type. Finally, the author suggests ways to overcome some of the existing barriers between composer and choreographer, music and dance, exploring how the structure of the world of modern dance influences artistic production.

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