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Speaking in Ligeti

Having built her career on fusing dance and music, Martha Carter has an uncanny understanding of the interwoven forces that bind the two. In her latest creation – which showcases in Halifax this weekend - her team of five dancers joins forces with renowned string quartet, Microcosmos, to tackle the music of one of the late 20th century’s most innovative composers, Gy├Ârgy Ligeti. Recently we spoke with Carter about the production and more.

When and why did you first become interested in dance?
I fell in love with ballet after watching the Nutcracker around age 8. I started classes and advanced quickly with my love of movement and music.

Are they the same reasons that you continue to be involved today?
Yes. It’s all about the movement and the rhythm...even if the dance is in silence, or if the music is arthythmic!

What are the challenges of the vocation?
Dance is extremely labour intensive as it is ephemeral and requires constant physical presence in a studio to learn and rehearse choreography. And then the dance needs to be performed in front of an audience to be complete. After the performance, the dance is gone. There is no way to preserve it, except by filming it...and then it loses some of its essence as it becomes very two-dimensional. This is very different than musicians who can learn the music by themselves at home and then come to rehearsal ready to go.
Or painters or writers or film-makers who can create alone and then put their painting aside for years before they decide to show it. And then of course, it is well known that dance is the poorest of all art forms with the least amount of public funding.

What are the rewards?
“Dancers are the messengers of the gods.” (Martha Graham)

Is your creative process more 'inspirational' or 'perspirational'?

How has your work evolved over the years?
Over the years, I have always started with movement, but I have become more and more of an interdisciplinary artist working with dance, music, new media, theatre and film.
This is a constant evolution, especially as technology changes so fast.

What inspired Speaking in Ligeti?
The power of the music, and the movement amongst the musicians as they play together. As I watched them in concert, I immediately envisioned the quartet in the middle of the stage as an equal presence onstage with the dancers. When I researched Ligeti - his fascinating life and innovative compositional process - he became the focus of the inspiration.

What can audiences expect to experience?
A dose of entertainment, a dose of high art, a big spoonful of music theory and a full-on exciting roller coaster ride.

What are your thoughts on the current state of dance in Canada?
There is amazing talent in this country. Unfortunately, there is not enough funding to get more work travelling and shared across the country. All the more reason why we feel so lucky to be travelling to Halifax!

What's next on your creative agenda?
I have several projects in the works, as do most of the artists in this production. Watch out Canada!

Speaking in Ligeti
May 29, 30, 7pm
Sir James Dunn Theatre, Halifax

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