The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
There's a first time for everything and Miami Light Project's Here & Now: 2013, a Knight Emerging Artist Series, is a good place to find genesis. Miami Light Project's Here & Now commissions South Florida based artists and provides them with space and creative license to explore new modes of performance. This year Here & Now will feature new work by Shira Abergel, Ivonne Batanero, Liony Garcia and Matthew Evan Taylor from February 7-16th at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse. I had the opportunity to interview the artists last week about their work and what makes them tick. Matthew Evan Taylor, the first interviewee, is a composer whose work is taking a radical leap forward—into ballet and marionettes—thanks in part to the support of Here & Now.
Neil de la Flor: Tell me about “Elvrutu's Fall.”
Matthew Evan Taylor: “Elvrutu’s Fall” is the story of Elvrutu, princess of Avianalia (The Land of Birds) and her impending betrothal to either the Bull God of Joy, Furaha, or the Clown God of Stories, Anoki. After a furious battle, one suitor emerges victorious and wins the hand of Elvrutu. However, the Stranger has final say on happiness, and he collects whoever he feels is his.
This is my first ballet. It features live dancers and marionettes (by Pablo Cano), interacting in what I believe will be a novel way for the audience. My choreographer, Priscilla Marrero, and I were very concerned with the boundaries in this story; the boundary between Elvrutu and her suitors, between movers and marionettes, even between cast and musicians. At what point do these characters shed the trappings of their identity in order to grow? And, what are the consequences when the decision to break free is made? These are questions I hope to answer with Elvrutu’s Fall.
ND: What makes your work here and now?
MET: My work attempts to straddle the line between academic, controlled art-making and visceral self-expression. I believe that, for the most compelling works, this is what audiences respond to. It also reflects what I think is the dual nature of any artist. It’s hard to label this relationship without the bias of connotation leaking into the commentary. For me, it is the dichotomy of the refined and the primitive, the sacred and the secular, the polite and the profane. I place no value on any of these terms except to acknowledge that they are linked to each other, and, when brought together, the struggle to reconcile them compels me to write music. It is this struggle that animated The Rite of Spring, emancipating rhythm and harmony from the codification of the European past. The struggle lead Matisse’s brush to make work that still astounds. This is where the edge can be found.
ND: Biggest challenge putting this project together?
MET: Time! There is never enough time. When I am in the midst of creating, the process can be so enjoyable that I just keep coming up with more ideas. Time is the great editor, and eventually you have to make choices, most tough, for the good of the work. Practically speaking, having to juggle the schedules of seven people for rehearsals, manage deadlines from producers, and continue to fulfill my commitments outside of this project, time is a resource that I can never fully appreciate until I’ve already lost it.
ND: What does it feel like when you perform?
MET: Performing is invigorating. I love to feed off the energy of the audience and my fellow musicians. The spark of communal inspiration is intoxicating.
ND: Why is your work important to you?
MET: I feel my work is my most personal expression. If you really want to know who I am, listen to my music. Every major event in my life is inextricably linked to music. It is my desire to make a connection with my audience whether I’m performing or others are performing my music. So, the importance of my music is directly related to the quality of the connections I’m able to make with my audience.
Miami Light Project Presents Here & Now: Thursday-Saturday, February 7-16 at 8 p.m. at The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 26 St., Miami. Tickets: $25, non-members; $20, members; $15, students and seniors. Tickets are available at miamilightproject.com or by calling 866-811-4111.