What a great few weeks. I've been in London working with Martin Pyne on Sheron Wray's "Embodiology" research project. Martin's a great player: beautiful touch on the vibes and sensitive use of effects and delays. He also had a drum/percussion set-up—so long periods of packing! But we'd been talking about working together for a while now, so this was a good chance; expect to hear us soon...
Sheron's concepts for improvisation in dance stem from her experiences with West African dance, but her process goes beyond its origin. She and the company of great dancers [Gwen Jones, Dena Lague, Ingrid Mackinnon, Johanna Saarinen, Lauren Segal and Noelle White] built a collection of idiomatic movements together; and then they used this collection to create new forms on the fly, on the same level as Martin and I were improvising, which is rare. There was a strong emphasis on rhythm and active listening that is rare in contemporary dance, and all of this led to sessions where the music and dance were commensurate, rather than the music serving the dance.
In many ways this sounds similar to building a lingua franca in music; and indeed within the dancers themselves you could see a common language develop. But the important thing is the process itself. By creating techniques to develop or enhance improvisation in dance in alliance with music Sheron has struck on something very different and useful. She has to write all of it up now for her PhD., so I imagine we may not see it for a while, but seriously, keep your fingers crossed—it's very special.