CLEVELAND, Ohio – Pam Tanowitz Dance and pianist Simone Dinnerstein would have been thrilled to perform their “New Work for Goldberg Variations” here two years ago. They are even happier doing it now.
After gestating for two years during the pandemic, the unusual new work they’ve come up with has only gotten better, they say. It is transformed from a piano dance on stage into a cohesive and unified presentation. DanceCleveland Series customers can count themselves lucky.
“At first it was just about getting comfortable with the actual piece,” said Dinnerstein, a noted Bach performer.
“Now it seems to have evolved into something different. We’ve started to feel like a whole. They involve me in a different way. It’s become a lot more interactive and collaborative.
They almost never collaborated. When dance lover Dinnerstein floated the idea of developing a dance around her rendition of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, Tanowitz nearly rejected it, feeling discouraged by the iconic piece of music and skeptical of its ability. to say anything new with.
But her defenses melted when she heard Dinnerstein’s recording of the work and when she learned that Dinnerstein had already performed the work with another dance company and was resolved this time to create something completely different, something more natural and fluid.
“We wanted living, breathing dancers working with a living, breathing musician,” Tanowitz said. “That was the whole point. It was very intentional.”
Tanowitz fulfills his duties fairly quickly. She choreographed each of Bach’s 30 short variations, then retired, leaving her dancers to take ownership of the movement. At this point, she says, she is no longer involved. The piece exists independently.
That doesn’t mean she knows what’s going to happen on any given night. Even now, long after its foundational premiere, “New Work for Goldberg Variations” remains exactly that, a new work.
Just as Dinnerstein can’t play the music the same way every night and an actor can’t help but deliver his lines differently, Tanowitz’s dancers can’t repeat themselves exactly. That way, after the fact, they were even able to add a whole new dancer, just by playing a rehearsal.
“They have space like music has space,” Tanowitz said. “What I like best is the surprise, the thing I haven’t thought of.”
All this, for Dinnerstein, is a luxury. In the pure classical realm, she says, there is little freedom. Loyalty to the score and to tradition can be “suffocating”.
This is why, in part, she gravitates towards dancers and choreographers, and particularly towards Tanowitz. They take the music seriously but not too literally, she says, and often in this way feel rhythms, patterns and gestures that it misses.
“It’s really refreshing,” Dinnerstein said. “You create something in the moment, and it’s something [in classical music] it is often overlooked. You have to allow who you are to be part of the performance. You have to let it change. »
Change, of course, has been rampant in the two years since Tanowitz and Dinnerstein were first to share work in Cleveland. As a result, the two said they were certain their “new work” had improved, albeit in ways they couldn’t articulate.
One thing that hasn’t changed is their commitment to the concept. The notion of moving back and forth between music and dance in real time is as powerful for them today as it was when they first started exploring it.
“I hope we reveal something that makes you hear or see things in a slightly different way,” Dinnerstein said. “It’s a work of art in response to another great work of art. I think that [Tanowitz] fact is extraordinary.
Pam Tanowitz Dance and Simone Dinnerstein
What: DanceCleveland presents “New Work for Goldberg Variations”.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 19.
Or: Mimi Ohio Theater, Playhouse Square, 1511 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.
Tickets: $25 to $55. Go to playhousesquare.org or call 216-241-6000.