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Exploring Silence In Dance At KCB Choreographer Showcase

A blowing March wind on Thursday roared outside the windows of a rehearsal and performance space in the Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity. Ilya Kozadayev, a former soloist with Houston Ballet, watched intently from the audience as a group of six dancers from the Kansas City Ballet moved without music. For long stretches of time, only the sound of occasional claps and feet upon the floor could be heard as they went through the motions of a final tech rehearsal.

Kozadayev is an assistant professor of dance at the University of Oklahoma, pursuing his master's in choreography. He was in Kansas City, Mo. this week preparing dancers for the world premier of his new work 'Bounded Regions.' His piece is one of six choreographic works that will presented as part of a new Kansas City Ballet program called New Moves, highlighting emerging choreographers.

Performing without music

Silence is an element that intrigues Kozadayev.

“I was really interested to see how the dancers would perform under these difficult conditions,” he says. “We are all, I think, very musical beings and it is really difficult to perform in silence, especially for us as classically-trained dancers.

“We are so used to dancing to music and working with music and moving with music. Having that taken away almost makes you feel exposed in a sense. I wanted to see what kind of quality that would bring out from the dancers and I think they are coping really well.”

It's halfway through Kozadayev's work that the music begins and the strains of “Aria” from Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach are added to the mix of movement and sound.

Perceptions of sound and movement

“I believe that we as dancers and we as observers perceive movement very differently with or without sound,” Kozadayev says. “I think actually sound dominates a lot of our movement perception.

“I wanted to play around with silence and see the truth in the power of movement and then to have Bach’s beautiful aria come on and have the environment of the piece change completely, but contain some of the same vocabulary of movement.”

Kozadayev says he wanted to see how dancers would respond to the pressures of performing without music.

“They have a lot of tasks in the silent section and I think they are coping really well," he says. "The tasks are very physical. They have to be really focused and the confinement that the element of silence provides makes them move in a very specific way.

“We built a paradigm where the dancers have cues. They have either visual or sound cues for when they go onto the next step or the next phrase of steps. So that was quite a challenge for them, but I think they are really stepping up.”

The pleasure of seeing a piece come together

For Kozadayev, the real thrill is in seeing it all come alive onstage.

“I think one of the hardest things about being a choreographer is that the entire concept is in your head for such a long time," he says. "It’s like watching a movie in your head then finally seeing it realized is very exciting."

Kansas City Ballet presents New Moves, a choreographic showcase March 28 and 29, and Friday, April 4, 2014, 6 p.m. April 5, 2014, at 7:30 p.m. at the Michael and Ginger Frost Studio, at the Bolender Center for Dance & Creativity, 500 W. Pershing, Kansas City, Mo. 816-931-2232.

Julie Denesha is the arts reporter for KCUR. Contact her at julie@kcur.org.
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