Ready Player One provides unconventional night of music, dance

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Last night, K-State dance and music students took part in a new approach to performing and synchronizing music in Forum Hall. As part of “Be Who You Are — Ready Player One Interactive,” the performing dancers and composers did creative research and developed content out of inspiration from Ernest Cline’s science-fiction novel, “Ready Player One,” as well as the work of Merce Cunningham, a renowned dance choreographer, and celebrated classical composer John Cage.

While the dancers created and performed their own material, several musicians from the School of Music, Theatre and Dance were asked to perform the pieces written by two student composers, Joshua de Bonilla, senior in applied music, and Robert Roth, graduate in music. Prior to the performance, the musicians only had one or two chances to look over the pieces that they would be performing. The performers included four saxophone players, a pianist and a percussionist.

“I was asked if I wanted to play in the performance and I said yes,” Billy Chew, sophomore in saxophone performance, said. “We only had a couple of chances to look at the pieces before we performed.”

The performance hinged on participation from the audience. Specific audience members chose the order in which the pieces were performed throughout the show. The dancers had to memorize each of their performances accordingly as, due to the choices of the audience, they did not know which specific dance they would be performing at the beginning of each piece.

“The audience is the unknown element in this performance event,” said Laura Donnelly, assistant professor of dance, who was in charge of the event. “Members of the audience will choose the sequence of phrases that each dancer will perform, as well as the order in which the musical phrases will be played.”

Additionally, since two different original compositions were performed by the musicians, the dancers had to adapt to each different piece; synchronizing their different movements into a combined performance that flowed will the different music.

“We’ll present at least two versions of the piece as two composers, Joshua de Bonilla and Robert Roth, have created different scores for the piece,” said Donnelly.

After the performance, the dancers and composers engaged in an informal Q-and-A with the audience. De Bonilla was asked what he thought of his original music being matched up with different types of choreographed dance.

“It was weird,” de Bonilla said.

The unique and creative way in which the elements of music and dance were combined throughout the evening provided an interesting experience for audience members and performers alike.

“I [didn’t] know too much about the structure of the events this evening,” said Donna
Kickhaefer, a resident of Herington, Kan. whose granddaughter was one of the dancers in the performance. “I [was] looking forward to seeing what [was] in store.”

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