The six theories of dance improvisation translate well to music — a good thing for Tricia Opstad, who looked to combine the two into a unique performance.
Opstad’s “Buried Treasure” features six dancers and six musicians performing dances and songs based on those theories — which undergird arts from dance choreography to stage acting.
“I’ve always liked putting together different art forms to see what happens,” Opstad said, hoping to find out “What’s in mud? What is in the dirt? What is underneath my work, my artmaking and my process?"
The six viewpoints — space, shape, time, emotion, movement and logic — work to bring various aspects of dance to life. They are used as teaching methods, or as a base for choreography. Opstad decided to center her whole show on the structure.
She found six dancers to work with, offering up the idea of basing a performance on these techniques after she felt comfortable each could bring the required skill and commitment.
Holly Biehl, Ariel Brand, Lulu Delphine, Noelle Huser and Heidi Junkersfeld make up the dance contingent, who perform together, alone or in pairs throughout the performance.
They are accompanied by a six-piece band, who also break up into soloists or trios when the piece requires it.
“You could come in and close your eyes and be transformed,” Opstad said. “But sometimes it’s great to listen to music and see dance.”
The Six Viewpoints were written by Mary Overlie, a choreographer and performer who’s been active since the 1960s. Overlie was born in eastern Montana, and now resides in Bozeman. Opstad visited her earlier this spring to flesh out the ideas of her piece.
The show’s title, “Buried Treasure,” evokes part of the magic of semi-improvised dance, where beautiful moments are born out of a perfect, irreplicable set of circumstances, like how gemstones are created from a combination of temperature, space and pressure.
The space of the studio, the pressure of the hour time limit and the temperature of the room, made up of audience and musician interactions, all combine into Opstad’s search for gemstones.
The performance will provide some room for improvisation inside its structure, so Opstad searched for musicians experienced in free-flowing styles.
The band ended up comprising Naomi Siegel (trombone), Billy Kautz (trumpet), Michael Musick (tuba), Lauren Norby (keyboard, harmonium), Justin Matousek (saxophone) and William Saylor (violin).
“They’re all incredible listeners,” Opstad said. “Each musician is another dance partner in a way.”
There will be opportunities for the whole band to play, or for quiet improvisation or experimentation, featuring Matousek's white noise machines, for one.
Rehearsals and performances are being held at Headwaters Dance Co. director Amy Ragsdale’s home studio, which provides a space for the audience facing the dance floor, which will be flanked by musicians on either side.
“The space is a little off the beaten path. And the work I’m doing is a little off the beaten path,” Opstad said.