Alumna Larissa Koch '08-'09 talks about her collaboration with Harvard Music professor Hans Tutschku.
When the Harvard Ballet Company asked me to choreograph for their upcoming show, I was particularly excited by the opportunity to collaborate with a composer for the project. When invited to work with electroacoustic composer/Harvard Department of Music professor/Harvard University Studio for Electroacoustic Composition Director Hans Tutschku, I was all the more thrilled. The process of collaborating with someone so greatly accomplished and well established in his field has been an invaluable experience for me as an emerging choreographer.
We began working together over the summer with the goal of presenting a first draft of our piece in my new dance company's debut concert in September. This gave us a chance to check in and see how the synthesis of our compositions worked in a less formal concert setting, allowing for a perspective on the piece that would not otherwise have been possible.
I try to take a slightly different approach to choreographing for each piece I make, and working on this one was no exception. For most my previous pieces I've begun with a pre-existing piece of music and built my choreography in response to it. But with the simultaneous creation of the music and dance, a different and more fluid choreographic process was required. I was challenged to work outside of my comfort zone, finding a novel movement vocabulary and a more flexible way to structure phrases so that the choreography could evolve alongside the music.
I was incredibly lucky to have someone so keyed in to dance as Hans--he has worked with choreographers before, and is very responsive to the ways that the movement I choreographed interacted with his music. He sat in on several rehearsals, after which we both got a chance to discuss how to edit our respective work so that transitions resolved more organically. Hans also has a great eye, and had insight into moments in the choreography that I was struggling with. I ended up revising the conclusion of the piece in response to his feedback, and the resolution made so much more sense as a result!
After presenting the first draft of our work for Timbre + Flux (the debut concert of my new dance company, Larissa Douglas Contemporary Dance), I'm now getting to rework the piece for Harvard Ballet Company's fall show, Momentum. In a space as amazing as the Loeb Mainstage, the evolution of our collaboration promises to be that much more exciting! I'm looking forward to seeing where this next incarnation of our work together goes.
Larissa Koch '08-'09 is the 2007 recipient of the Suzanne Farrell award for outstanding artistry in the field of dance, as well as a 2007 Artist Development Fellow. Her choreography has been performed at Dance for World Community Festival, American College Dance Festival (ACDFA), Dancers' Viewpointe, Ivies@Cunningham at the Merce Cunningham Studio in New York City, and at Festival du Mois Molière in Versailles, France.
[Caption: Larissa Koch '08-'09 performing her own "La Mort d'Hercule." Photo by Elizabeth Mak '12.]