Stefansson, Hanna Lisa
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My dissertation performance, Ritual Habit, is a music composition and dance choreography collaboration. This document is a written reflection of my experience with my collaboration with dancer and choreographer Andrea Trombetta. A composer or other artist seeking to collaborate with others might find this document to be a helpful resource and a case study of sorts. The concept of ritual forms the narrative of the piece, which is structured around the characteristics of ritual-like activities outlined by the late scholar Catherine Bell. These characteristics include formality, invariance, sacral symbolism, and performance. The element of mystery is another characteristic often involved in ritual that I incorporate into the piece. I discuss collaboration in its many forms, going into specific examples of music composer and choreographer collaborations. These examples include the following composer and choreographer pairs: Charles Griffes and Michio Ito, Otto Luening and Doris Humphrey, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa, Igor Stravinsky and Vaslav Nijinsky, and finally, John Cage and Merce Cunningham. I also discuss Henry Cowell’s technique of elastic form as a useful tool for collaborative work, as well as Alwin Nikolais’s total theater concept to show what can be derived from a “one-man show.” After introducing the archetypes of ritual that are used to structure my piece, I discuss the form and the narrative of Ritual Habit, section by section. I include discussion of instrumentation, the sound sources of the electronics, the ways in which these sounds were manipulated, and the spatialization of the fixed and live electronics. I describe the dancers’ movements as they pertain to the ritual structure and to the music. I end my dissertation with a discussion of ways in which the collaborators take on the production roles and the idea of a true collaboration being one that results in the expansion of a person’s capacity.