Forklift Danceworks Reprises ‘Solo Symphony’ with Austin Symphony Conductor Peter Bay


After spending the last three years at the pool, so to speak, Forklift Danceworks is heading inside for its next show — a reprise of “Solo Symphony,” a dance created for Austin Symphony conductor Peter Bay.

Forklift’s “My Park, My Pool, My City” was a breathtaking city-wide trilogy of community-based dance works, a project focused on three East Austin pools, their histories and their communities. Forklift artistic director Allison Orr and the Forklift company spent a year with each pool, marshalling casts of up to 100 people.

Related: “Forklift Danceworks’ ‘Givens Swims’ dives deep into a community”

So now, Orr is restaging the intimate, award-winning 2012 collaboration with Bay, a dancework inspired by the virtuosic movement of symphonic conducting.

While Bay typically performs with the Austin Symphony in the Long Center for the Performing Art’s 2400-seat Dell Hall, “Solo Symphony” is performed in the center’s 240-seat Rollins Studio Theater. Bay faces the audience, performing to a score by Graham Reynolds for a 13-musician chamber orchestra.

He does not conduct the musicians throughout the entire piece of music; rather Bay mixes conducting with choreographed movement sequences abstractly based on his own regular conducting gestures. Audio of Bay’s voice recounting personal thoughts takes up interstitial moments between the music.

“Ever since it premiered, we’ve been looking for a time to do ‘Solo Symphony’ again,” said Orr. “This time, we’re adding a little more story in Peter’s voice. He talks about the responsibility of a conductor and what it means to stand in front of a group of musicians who are at the top of their art form.”

“Once again, Peter is the one taking the most risk to do this performance,” said Orr. “He is memorizing a lot, even more than usual for him because he is having to memorize movement and choreography in addition to the music.”

“It’s an intimate experience to see Peter facing us while doing his work, weaving through movements the musical relationships of conducting.”

“Solo Symphony” will be performed four times Jan. 30-Feb. 2.


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