In the Summer 2022, we [Julynn Wildman (choreographer) and Jessi Harvey (composer)] were selected for an OpenAIR Artist Residency at an Evolutionary Biology Lab at the University of Montana. Prof. Doug Emlen and his students study the stridulatory “songs” and trembling “dances” performed by male rhinoceros beetles. Though selected for the residency as individual artists, we soon saw the compatibility and complementarity of our media, research, and creative styles and envisioned a larger-scale collaboration.
The project is a 20-minute research-based performance for a mixed chamber ensemble and 8 dancers. The structure of the performance is tripartite, with each section corresponding to a pivotal stage in the mating cycle. It will be performed live and recorded in late spring 2024 at Westside Theatre in Missoula, MT, presented alongside a project introduction, showcase of initial residency pieces, and an artist talkback. The performance will engage students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, creating a truly cross-disciplinary environment.
Classical music, concert dance, and laboratory sciences can feel at times inaccessible; each requiring unique prerequisite knowledge to appreciate what is being presented. Our collaboration demystifies all three, creating a whimsical triad of entry points for anyone within - or outside of - each discipline. This collaboration is symbiotic; for us, artists who create research-informed work, access to the science and its experts is nonpareil. For the scientists, artists offer a chance to reach new audiences in bold, original ways. For the University, cross-departmental collaboration augments learning experiences for both arts and science students. For Montana, a project combining classical music, concert dance, and scientific research can show the vivacity of collaboration, give access to its component parts, stimulate interest in the arts and sciences, and support creators in the state.
Funded by Awesome Without Borders (October 2023)