23 May Cypress
dance score for bass clarinet + double bass [35′] 2002.
Commissioner: Yvonne Ng, Tiger Princess Dance Projects
Funders: The Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, The Laidlaw Foundation, The Canada Council for the Arts.
Premiere: Justine Chambers, Susanne Chui and Susan Lee; Robert Stevenson & Peter Pavlovsky, Artword Theatre, Toronto, December 5-8 2002.
Choreography: Yvonne Ng
Conceived and Choreographed by Yvonne Ng, Cypress was inspired by the Chinese legend of the Three Friends: bamboo, plum and cypress. They do not die, but remain constant and blossom before the spring comes. The cypress symbolizes longevity, a core aspect of friendship. The dancers – Justine Chambers, Susanne Chui and Susan Lee – fill the space with flowing movements that are both strikingly awkward and yet starkly organic. They become the ever-shifting, ever-sifting landscape, creating and disarming their boundaries and conjoined limitations. As with many of her works, Ng found her movement vocabulary from exercises in constraint. Choreographic phrases are eked out of the dancers’ limited freedom and are surprisingly swollen with poignant, and poetically enduring images. In my score for Cypress, I was drawn to the rich web of connections the double bass and clarinet draw across musical cultures: from klezmer, tango, and gypsy music to Indian film scores. Performed by contemporary virtuosi Peter Pavlovsky (double bass) and Robert Stevenson (bass clarinet), the score veers from groove to grunge, as the instruments shadow, tangle, keen and sigh.