TO DO: Me!

In a stroke of shameless self promotion, here’s my show. It’s tonight at Dixon Place @ 8PM. I’ll also post the accompanying essays that will go with the program.

You’re all welcome to come, take notes, call me a genius or tear me to shreds. I’ll totally post anyone’s commentary, as long as it falls within the comments guidelines. If a Counter Critic can dish it, he can surely take it…like a man!


(Photo by Michael Hart; Design by Jacob Maraya)

Concept, music, and performance by RYAN TRACY

@ dixon place
Call 212.219.0736 for tickets

Collective Opera Company Founder, RYAN TRACY’s solo performance work agitates the nexus of music and movement, enlivening their interdependent, dissociative, and counter-influential relationships, and establishes physical improvisation as a means of musical composition. [AKA–I’ll be improvising music and movement with a piano!!!]

Also on the program is SCREEN TEST, a collaboration with choreographer ELKE RINDFLEISCH, exploring music’s power to subjectively color experience. [This shit is hot!]


All sound is a result of movement. Therefore, all music is the result of movement.

We have excluded certain kinds of movement from the concert stage for various reasons. Some are practical; one must sit still and evenly distribute the weight of one’s body over the hand while playing a scale on the piano keyboard. Others are conventional; to be able to hear the sound of an instrument better, or merely for the sake of decorum.

But what has dangerously become a fashion in the study of classical music, is to regard the process of musical composition as one that has only two possible origins: the first, that it is purely cerebral, or second, that it is mystically spiritual or religious. That is to say that we do not regard the total body of the composer to be responsible for the works of musical genius. This is evinced by our reluctance to associate body image with our most beloved composers, with the exception of a few. It can also be seen in our failure to fully recognize living composers in contrast to the kind of fanfare and air-time the long dead and decaying composers are given.

SHAPE/SHAME proposes composition is an activity in which the entire body engages. What goes blindly by is our attention to how new music demands new ways for our bodies to move, both in an effort to play the music and in our experience of the music. Music, because it is invisible to our eyes, is generally regarded as body-less. This couldn’t be further from the reality of music, in that it is the only art form whose fundamental mode of experience is tactile, which is a radical activity that passes as commonplace. Sound waves are physically real; they are touching us. They literally fly at us and strike our bodies; and not just our eardrums, but our hair, our clothes; in the presence of the right percussive instrument or a large enough orchestra (or to get down and dirty, a giant speaker at a night club) it is possible to physically feel music in a “dumb” sense. And the fact that we regard the larger body’s experience of music to be “dumb” (this does connect with general attitudes toward dance and dancing, and toward nature in general), that is, without cerebral finesse, we prize music that we believe to be a feat of mental genius and dismiss music that seems vulgar to our taste for high culture.


If SHAPE/SHAME has one fixation, it is to reclaim the body’s right to feel music, to make music, to think musically, and to move.

Screen Test No.1

In the 1950s, Merce Cunningham and John Cage threw a permanent wrench into the placid waters of dance performance. Their experiments with dissociation—the process of making music and dance independently and then presenting them together—seem to have shocked the dance world in a way that can still be felt, although the waters seem to be settling and dance makers can feel free to dance to music once again.

But when we look back at that wrench–the rending of music and movement as presented in dance–have we really reconciled the alarming realities proposed by Cage and Cunningham: that the synchronicity of dance and movement are an illusion of theater; that movement can exists next to movement without being moved by it; that music can go its own way and movement can go another; that new possibilities of experience are opened when we juxtapose these forms, rather than artfully whittle them together?

It is no wonder these realities have fallen into the hungry mouth of the past when we consider that our lives are saturated by the moving image, which is, at all times, artfully synchronized with a soundtrack of sounds and music, with few exceptions. Consider also, that synchronicity is mainly an illusion of rhythm; that’s how we can tell if two things are “keeping in time,” or if Britney Spears isn’t “syncing up” with the pre-record. Falling out of such synchronicity is either tragic or comic. We do not only take the synchronicity of movement and music for granted, we demand it.

Furthermore, our musical culture has continued in its saturation of our lives. From the car radio, to the walkman, to the ring tone, to now, the iPod/phone/etc., we seem to want musical accompaniment around us at all times, and yet we do not seem to consider exactly to what extent the music is shaping, or coloring, our real experiences.

In Screen Test No.1, I collaborate with Elke Rindfleisch in a work that shows one phrase of movement along side improvised piano music. Each rendition of the phrase, which is repeated twice, will be accompanied by a new improvisation. Juxtaposing the three versions in such close proximity—as Warhol portraits might be viewed in a gallery—will hopefully allow us to peak through the window of our experience of music and movement (as Warhol did with color and outline), to sense the real shifts from synchronicity to dissociation, from tonalism to atonalism, and to feel the difference.



1 Comment

  1. […] So, we’ve been a little busy this week. (What, this old thing?) We know we’ve been […]

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s