With Care is an hourlong theater piece for two violinists and two dancers; my music is present only for an eight-minute scene near the end of the piece.
In talking about this piece, I should start at the beginning, when two dear friends met each other and began a uniquely powerful collaboration. In 2016, the dancer Bobbi Jene Smith and the violinist Keir GoGwilt were both performing in a production of my piece The Orphic Moment, directed by Zack Winokur. In this staging, the violin soloist – Keir – is very much a part of the onstage action, and Zack had the idea that he and Bobbi should physically fuse to become a four-limbed creature, a monstrous violinist-dancer hybrid.
I loved the idea, but I told Zack I didn’t think Keir would let a dancer hang off his body while he had to play all this challenging music. Zack told me to let Bobbi and Keir give it a try – and I couldn’t believe my eyes. The chemistry between them was immediate, and the trust that quickly developed, across their very different artistic disciplines, ran deep.
This led Bobbi to invite Keir to be a part of a full-length dance piece she was working on, called A Study on Effort. Keir’s presence lent that piece a new power, and A Study on Effort became a duet. It’s one of the most moving performance pieces I have ever seen, in any medium.
Bobbi and Keir are both members of AMOC (American Modern Opera Company), the ensemble that I co-founded last year. Given how important A Study on Effort was for all of us, we decided to expand on the work Bobbi and Keir had already done, and create a piece for two dancers and two violinists.
The final “effort” in A Study on Effort is “the effort of taking care” – a quiet, intense scene which involves Bobbi carefully balancing a plant on her chest, and in which both Bobbi and Keir quietly sing to one another. That “effort of taking care” is the starting point for With Care, which is a full-length exploration of “care”: what is it to care for another human being? What is the difference between carefreeness and carelessness? When does caring for someone become smothering, unhealthy, overpowering?
My music is just a small part of a thrilling tapestry of music and dance which also includes pieces by John Cage, Reiko Fueting, and Bach. I should mention that my music for With Care can also be performed separately, as a concert piece.
With Care will have its world premiere on November 1, 2, and 3, 2018 at the ODC Theater in San Francisco.