by Jean Schiffman
San Francisco Arts Monthly, April 2008 Vol. 19 No.9
A rehearsal for Janice Garrett & Dancers' upcoming premiere, "StringWreck," is underway in the Margaret Jenkins studio. Outside, it is a blustery evening; inside, the energy is electric. The dancers, two men and two women, are warming up. Only two of the musicians comprising the Del Sol String Quartet are here tonight, but ultimately all four will perform—not just playing the music but physically interacting with the dancers.
The section that Janice Garrett and co-choreographer Charles Moulton are working on is set to "Eine kleine Nachtmusik," one of 15 pieces selected from among Del Sol's repertory of about 150, most of them by contemporary composers. Tonight, Del Sol founder Charlton Lee is It. The dancers swing him like a battering ram, leap over his shoulder, lift his legs, turn him around, carry him in a stiff standing position, swirl around him like dervishes. Throughout, Lee gamely tries to play his violin (in performance, he'll play the viola) while violinist Rick Shinozaki accompanies him from the sidelines. When Lee's bow arm is obstructed, he plucks helplessly at the strings. In performance, musicians will be tossed in the air with great abandon. Dancers will fall under the spell of the musicians' shifting tempos, morph into music stands that fly off with the sheet music. Lee will plummet through space, be dragged belly-down across the floor, playing all the while.
"We're exploring the interface between musicians and dancers," explains Garrett. "What can they do in common, where can they function together, where can't they? How do they co-exist? Where are the points of friction, tension, compatibility, harmony? And how do we weave a piece that moves through those variable landscapes of what all human interactions and relationships move through?"
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