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Songs Without Words 17
Songs Without Words 17

Studio trials 17

These six trials show the effect of experiments in sound accompaniment, vocabulary, particularly the use of the eyes and the hands, explorations in the framing of the whole body or just the face, in the use of lighting and shadow, in the effect of hair brushed away from the face, revealing neck and shoulders, and fundamentally the evolution of approach from pedestrian to abstract. 

I explored the face and hands in a way that eschewed narrative, that avoided any cliché of expression.  Early in the process I seized on the image of Medusa.  Oddly enough the hands felt as though they came alive like vines, with flowers blooming around the face.  This oddness gave me a specific world to explore distinct from the conventional use of the face.  


This is the third work of R. Murray Schafer’s to show up in my Songs Without Words anthology.  SWW 3 is danced with Portent and SWW 4 with Movement III of String Quartet No. 11.  The vibrancy, resoluteness, clarity and shape of these works are to my sensibility extremely dance friendly.  I had explored Ariadne’s Dream in early trials of SWW 12 so the piece was already in my body.  It was a distinct pleasure to shape my phrases and accents in counterpoint to those of this musical gem.


Immediately I recognized that I would have to accept and then release the vulnerability I would feel with such a close shot.  This intimacy blurs the line between performer and viewer and the dance becomes pure presence – play and presence.

With SWW 17, the choreographer and I had an initial discussion on possible avenues to create internal dialogue that would find way to the face, referencing reading material of interest. Along with the light designer, we also established what would be an ideal frame for the face with a few video trials. During these trials, we observed the play of light and shadow on the face- with the sunlight pouring through the window directly on the performer, and then indirectly (changing the angle of the performer in relation to the light). Both trials were of interest, and it was decided that the dance would be filmed two ways. I was both struck and intrigued in my observation of what felt like two very different dances, even though the choreography remained consistent. The principle of “less is more” became important, and as rehearsal director I tried to identify any extraneous actions/ movements that would find their way in. The minimal movement of the head, and precise manipulations of the face (direction of eyes/ eyebrows, forehead, lips/ mouth) became significant and purposeful. Time was also a powerful component and gave way to moments of fulfilling an expression to completeness – allowing audience to fully participate in the transitions.

Helen Husak

The costume designer for SWW, Angela Dale, was unfortunately not able to work with me on SWW 14, 16 or 17.   As this work is so tightly focused on the face, costume was not an overwhelming concern.  I felt that bare shoulders and arms provided the least distraction.  I wore a simple sleeveless black dress, banded across the chest.  The hair worn up and back lets the viewer in more.  Thank you to my colleague Catherine Hayward for that observation.

Watching this piece for the first time, Davida was sitting in sunlight coming through a window. I could see how the direction of the light and shadows could change the interpretation of the movement. Should it feel internalized or have an external influence? We watched it both ways in the sunlight and then it was decided to show the piece lit both ways and let the audience decide.

Steve Isom
Lighting Designer

Paras Terezakis

Paras Terezakis - Choreographer

Colleen Campbell
photo: Anne Forshner

Colleen Campbell - Artist and scientist

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Ariadne’s Dream - R. Murray Schafer - 3’19 SWW 17


A / 0 – 31

0 – 7 four patterns of two notes – stress heavy light / hands over face, raising head to camera

  8 – 26 one short phrase, one very long tumbling phrase / open, spread left hand

27 – 31 ambience / pivot on thumb, slide up to right hairline flower

B / 32 – 47 

7 chords – heavy, light heavy, light heavy, light heavy / left hand finishes flower while right hand very slowly opens, curl right fingers, eyes right, slide to chin, jaw, pivot and flower


A / 49 – 1’12 // slide both hands play, curling and spreading, arrive softly left hand to forehead fingers right, right hand to chin fingers up toward eyes, allow focus to internalize

49 – 55 three patterns of two notes – stress heavy light 

54 – 58 two short phrases

59 – 1’14 one very long tumbling phrase


B / 1’19 – 1’30 / palpate softly

7 chords – heavy, light heavy, light heavy, light heavy

A & B / 1’31 – 1’46 / drawing on face, some with eyes

1’31 – 1’36 Very dark 

1’37 – 1’41 lighter sound into three second trill

1’41 – 1’46 two sweeping phrases


Allegro Development 1’47 – 2’13 

1’47 – 2’02 three reiterations rising and falling / forehead wiping various tensions, tilts, focuses

2’02 – 2’13 two dark low trills, four note phrase, seven note phrase + strong bright chord / I fingertips cover eyes from side, work mouth


A / staggered 

2’17 – 2’26 seven notes falling / flip right fingers palm out, turn head

2’29 – 2’31 tumbling down phrase / quick pressure inward to face from many directions


A / ralentissimo 

  2’34 – 2’44 two heavy light, three falling phrases / squeeze and peer through, lean forward, 

/ slide hands idea with percussive touches ie. No slides

A / coda

2’45 – 3’08

heavy accent chord in B range, two phrases, one final note / smiling, spreading flowering peering

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