With our 2016 March performances right around the corner, we’re excited to give a behind-the-scenes look into the musical components of Ghost Opera – GroundWorks’ dramatic work choreographed by Artistic Director David Shimotakahara, set to Tan Dun’s musical composition. The piece originally premiered during GroundWorks’ 2014 season and is being beautifully reprised during the 2016 spring series. The work features a live string quartet and a Chinese pipa.

We recently sat down with Erica Snowden, one of the musicians collaborating with GroundWorks on the Ghost Opera piece, to discuss how the alignment of music and dance create a haunting work that delights viewers through site and sound.

GroundWorks DanceTheater is known for bringing exceptional dance experiences to North East, Ohio. How did you hear of GroundWorks and become involved with the company?

“I became interested in GroundWorks as an audience member. I came to see a performance that involved a collaboration with the Aeolus String Quartet who happened to be colleagues of mine. They invited me to the performance of House of Sparrows and after witnessing the compelling integration of live music and dance, I knew that I wanted to be involved with this mixture between arts.”

Tell us what makes the musical aspect of Ghost Opera unique?  

“The piece is quite remarkable because of the atmosphere created by Tan Dun’s literal use of musical elements. You’ll hear paper flying on the wind, ghostly cries, echoes of raindrops and stones chattering. For me the most inspiring aspect of this piece is its ability to take its listeners on a journey. One does not find herself in the same place after this work. The listener is transformed by this very moving piece.”

How does the music and movement come together to perfectly co-exist throughout this work?

Ghost Opera lends itself very well to movement. The musical composition is the perfect fit for GroundWorks because of its powerful exploration of the past in a very modern light. Throughout the work Bach’s musical quotations appear and disappear like phantoms. GroundWorks’ choreography expertly embodies this in a way where past limits are pushed and the art is deepened as a result. It is this type of movement innovation that excited me as an audience member and is now thrilling as a collaborating musician.”

What do you find most inspiring about collaborating with GroundWorks DanceTheater on this piece?  

“The opportunity to perform alongside an incredible group of dancers is my favorite part about working with GroundWorks. In this performance there is an intimate relationship between the dancers and the musicians. We as the musicians are not hidden away in a pit like you would typically expect, but rather right up in the space with the dancers. It’s an invigorating experience for us instrumentalists!

During the 2016 March performances, GroundWorks DanceTheater will perform Ghost Opera at both EJ Thomas Hall in Akron & The Breen Center for Performing Arts in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland. For additional information, including tickets go here: http://groundworksdance.org/tickets/