Dance Like Everybody’s Listening

January 31, 2020
Oli Bentley ’21
dancers perform to music written by student composers.
Photo credit: Peter Swendsen ’99

TIMARA students compose music for dance... with dancers at their side.

In recent years, Oberlin has fostered numerous collaborations with GroundWorks DanceTheater, a Cleveland-based professional dance company dedicated to building community through the performance of contemporary works.

For Winter Term 2020, the conservatory’s TIMARA department teamed up with GroundWorks for a project that united composers and dancers under the guidance of TIMARA professor Peter Swendsen ’99.

Throughout the experience, TIMARA students were challenged to develop pieces that the performers would interpret through dance. Because the music and the dances were created simultaneously, the composers informed the dancers’ decisions just as much as the dancers informed those of each composer. For those on both sides of the creative process, the experience required thinking outside the box and a spirit of adventure—plus the ability to communicate their visions clearly.

Their work together culminated in a pair of informal performances: one in Oberlin’s dance studio in Warner Center and another at Cleveland State University.

The TIMARA participants found composing music for dance to be very different from their previous music-writing experiences.

“It was really fun, because we would talk about concepts and then the dancers would choreograph something,” says Piper Hill, a fifth-year double-degree student majoring in TIMARA and mathematics. “Then I would make some sounds, and they'd be like Oh that's really cool! Then they would choreograph some more. Usually, it was me writing music to the dance instead of the other way around."

You may also like…

Portrait of Professor Baron Pineda

Baron Pineda Discusses the Challenges of Social Media Content Standards

November 17, 2020
Professor of Anthropology Baron Pineda will present “Grey Areas: Universal Standards, Cultural Difference and Local Contexts in Social Media Content Moderation” as part of the Tea At Two Virtual Series presented by the Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School. His talk will take place from 2-3 p.m., Thursday, November 19. Learn more about Pineda’s work in this Q&A.
A girl wearing a surgical mask stands with arms folded in a hallway.

A Lesson in Computational Modeling

October 29, 2020
“Computational modeling is the future of neuroscience!” raves Rochelle van der Merwe ’21. So when she had the chance to participate in a Carney Center for Computational Brain Science computational modeling workshop at Brown University, she took full advantage of the opportunity.