Monday, March 16, 2009

An irresistible mash-up of tradition and innovation!

On Sunday March 1, for an audience of nearly 300, Concord was graced—and brought to its feet—by the warm and captivating energy of the famed a cappella group The Persuasions! For the second of three benefit events to support the programs and performances of Summer Stages Dance, the legendary singers and celebrated dancer Emily Coates performed Christopher Janney’s high tech/rhythm and blues work “HeartBeat with The Persuasions”.

HeartBeat,” originally created by Janney with dancer/choreographer Sara Rudner, achieved worldwide recognition in 1998 when the work was performed by dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov, who toured the piece for two years as part of his White Oak Dance Project. For this current production, Emily Coates, former member of New York City Ballet, White Oak and Twyla Tharp Dance, performed the movement sections of the piece while wearing the real-time heart-monitoring device. The Persuasions sang both rhythmic scat phrases and an original song “What Is a Heart” all composed by Janney specifically for the five-part harmonic group, over Coates’ amplified heartbeat. Janney and Boston-based singer Stan Strickland joined in with voice and text.

The concept and sound-score for “HeartBeat”, in which a performer moves to the actual sound of his/her own heartbeat in real time, was originally conceived by Janney in 1981. The choreography was developed with Sara Rudner in 1983, who was then principal dancer for Twyla Tharp. The piece, which has been placed on many other artists over the years, utilizes Janney’s modified bio-medical wireless telemetry system that amplifies the electrical impulses from the brain to the heart and surrounding muscles.

Summer Stages Dance is grateful to its benefit sponsors Amy McCarthy, Carol Moriarty, Sara Delano, Susan Leathers, and Stephanie McCormick Goodhart, and thanks all those were in enthusiastic attendance!

a) Summer Stages Dance supporters and benefit guests Stuart Rose, Marjorie Topf, Karen Map and Donal Fox

b) Summer Stages event sponsors Amy McCarthy (left) and Carol Moriarty (right) with Summer Stages director Amy Spencer and artist Christopher Janney.

c) Summer Stages Dance supporters and benefit guests David and Rose Thorne, and Lewis Lloyd

Christopher Janney's "HeartBeat with The Persuasions."
© 2009, PhenomenArts, Inc.
Photo: © B. Horsman Photography

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