Natural sounds highlight of SSU fall dance concert
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Sonoma State University's annual Fall Dance Concert 2013 features SSU dancers performing new, cutting-edge dance works.

This season, a unique collaboration and cross-disciplinary project engaging SSU students studying environment studies, engineering science and dance comes to the stage in the form of an original and unique dance piece showcasing the sounds of natural soundscapes.

The sounds of SSU Nature Preserves play an important role in “Soundscape Project,” part of the SSU Dept. of Theatre Arts and Dance annual Fall Dance Concert, which also has performances tonight at 7:30 p.m., Saturday (Nov. 23) at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday (Nov. 24) at 2 p.m. in Evert B. Person Theatre with a free encore performance on Dec. 6 at Weill Hall.

Explore the rich soundscapes of SSU’s Preserves while learning about the changing ecology of Sonoma County through the multimedia performance “Soundscape Project.” The merger of art and science, Soundscape Project blends video and acoustic recordings by world renowned bioacoustics expert, Bernie Krause, with a new dance piece choreographed by Christine Cali and Kristen Daley and original music from Jesse Olsen Bay. Fall Dance Concert 2013 also features “It’s A Movement” and “Crumble” from noted guest choreographers Lisa Jaroslow and Rogelio Lopez.

With training from Krause, students from Environmental Studies and Planning recorded a diversity of natural and man-made sounds in the field. SSU engineering students archived recorded material and created “best of” recordings to be made available as indoor soundscapes and ambient noise for events and functions. The recordings were delivered to composer Jesse Olsen Bay, who created an original composition designed to encourage exploration of sounds. Cali, Daley and dance students used the original score to explore the sounds and create a new interpretive dance performance.

The “Soundscape Project” was funded in part through the Green Music Center’s Academic Integration Grant and the Sonoma County Community Foundation Grant.

Department of Environmental Studies and Planning and Engineering Science students were trained by Krause to use the handheld Samson Zoom H4N recorders and Audition CS6 (Mac) for manipulating and archiving recordings. Between late May and end of June, recorders were used to sample biophonic, geophonic and anthrophonic sounds in a variety of environments, including Galbreath Wildlands Preserve, Faifield Osborn Preserve and other locations in the region, including coastal areas.

“For everyone involved, working on this project has changed the way we hear the world,” Daley said. “The stillness and subtlety required to really hear these soundscapes is profound. It is challenging to achieve, but deeply rewarding. We are indebted to Dr. Bernie Krause for guiding us towards this way of hearing. ”

 During recording, students used standardized protocols including datasheets and vocal data input. Recordings included dawn choruses of bird song, bird song at other times of day, cicadas, crickets and other insects, evening and nocturnal sounds, water, wind and man-made sounds such as footsteps or equipment.

The concert also features two additional dance pieces. “Crumble,” with music by Janis Brenner, Theo Bleckman, Meredith Monk and Iva Bittova, is an original piece that explores how one can overcome personal challenges and emotional crisis with the help of family and friends. “It’s a Movement,” with student dancers, explores the development of movement. “It's a Movement,” features music by Robert Een and Steve Reich.

 For more information call (707) 664-4246 or go to www.sonoma.edu/theatreanddance/productions.

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