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Last modified: Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Students fuse their art to create "Hammer and Nail"

April 16, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The collaboration between Kelly McCormick Bangs and Gabriel Lubell began last semester with a form of speed dating, when choreographers from the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and composers from the Jacobs School of Music came together in search of their like-minded counterpart.

Rather than dinner and a movie, the creative pairings resulted in 15 new and robust dance/music works that will be performed this weekend at the third annual "Hammer and Nail." The concert, which is free and open to the public, takes place at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater in Bloomington on April 19-20 at 4 p.m..

Hammer and Nail

Dancers from the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and musicians from the Jacobs School of Music collaborate in performance.

Print-Quality Photo

The process of creating something so beautiful was challenging for both Bangs and Lubell, one of 15 teams with one student from each school. They worked under time constraints and learned about their collaborator's mediums -- the "speed dating" was the easy part.

"We talked about any ideas that we had for the piece or about the instruments we wanted to use," said Bangs, a dance major in HPER's Department of Kinesiology, home of the IU Contemporary Dance Program. "It was difficult, but it was a really unique way of pairing up. I looked for a personality that would be easy to work with."

Bangs also wanted someone who could grasp the concept she had been envisioning -- women on a journey.

"I wanted to include the idea of wind and travel. I was thinking about strong women reflecting on their past, relating to each other, and than forging ahead to their future. I also used images of windmills and weathervanes to help the dancers achieve the revolving movements seen in my choreography. Although I used wind, it is also very grounded and earthy."

Bangs envisioned the wind and Lubell, a composition graduate student, envisioned the wind instruments.

"I liked the idea," Lubell said. "At our first meeting, she brought a camcorder with some dance movements on it. Watching these movements gave me some really clear musical ideas."

Lubell knew that he wanted to create something that would be easy to listen to and easy to understand, but he also wanted to emphasize the journey that the dancers would be taking with his music.

"I paid special attention to the rhythmic language and pacing. The tempo never changes and there is a regular beat, but some interesting things happen with meter as the piece progresses," he said. "Eventually the music arrives at a state of total rhythmic freedom and enlightenment."

Writing his piece, "Rhythmic Shifts," was challenging for Lubell because he had never written for dance.

"With dance you are required to keep in mind the piece is going to be supported by movement," he said. "The dancers make it make sense."

Bangs and Lubell both admit that collaborating with each other was not easy. In a way, they spoke different languages. Despite the journey being long and hard, both artists agree that it was worth it. In the artistic world, Bangs said, and especially for dancers, you have to know how to recruit other artists and learn how to work with them. Laura Poole, production coordinator and visiting guest lecturer in HPER, said the collaboration seen with all of the teams produced "rich aural and movement tapestries, each one very unique."

"Audiences can expect beautifully crafted and inspired pieces, both choreographically and musically," she said.

For more information, please contact Poole at 812-856-2819 and