CAC Dances! A Collaboration of Music and Dance in Fulton County

Craigie Hill rehearsal with Or Schraiber, Maya Brown (community participant) and Keir GoGwilt

Year: 2021-2022
DanceForce Member: Nancy Long
Artists: American Modern Opera Company; Caroga Arts Collective
Community Partners: Utica Dance Inc.
Audience: 143
Counties: Fulton, Oneida

With major support from the DanceForce, Caroga Arts Collective (CAC) was able to present the “The Cello Player” by the AMOC* (*American Modern Opera Company) at Sherman’s Park, Caroga Lake, NY on July 1, 2022**. Local dancers from upstate New York, who participated in the weeklong creative residency in June with AMOC members Julia Eichten (choreographer) and Keir GoGwilt (violinist, poet), premiered “Craigie Hill” on the public performance.

Since its inception, the CAC has presented a wide range of music, mostly chamber music, often with courageous, daring modern interpolations and popular compositions, performed by stellar young musicians of today. Recently their programming has grown to include dance. Kyle Barrett Price, founder of the Caroga Arts Collective, had hopes that presenting AMOC* would lay the groundwork for future collaborations and presentations. While the attendance was modest, the effect was immeasurable for the performers and audience alike. He said, “I think we shook up the audience—I think they needed to be shaken up”. The Caroga Arts Collective celebrates its 10th Anniversary with the announcement of a $1M grant from NYSCA.

“The Cello Player” had recently premiered at the Ojai Festival to critical acclaim in The New Yorker: “Enter the brilliant young cellist Coleman Itzkoff, carrying a wardrobe on his back. In Schraiber’s piece “The Cello Player… After retrieving his cello from the wardrobe, he interacts with a pair of dancers, [Or] Schraiber and Yiannis Logothetis, who seem to be isolated souls—perhaps brothers, perhaps friends—locked in an eternal coexistence. The duo alternates between listless poses and precise bursts of synchronized movement: folkish prancing, slapstick pratfalls, belligerent lunges and swipes, moments of sensual embrace that slip away. It’s a study in the complexities of male bonding, with the music suggesting a ritual that plays out time and again.

AMOC* member Or Schraiber conducted a movement workshop at Utica Dance which was attended by dancers and non-dancers. By taking the workshop beside the local dancers, members of AMOC* demonstrated that there was no divide between musicians and dancers, all are movers and creators.

“Rigid hierarchies are replaced by a more democratic, borderline-anarchic practice. Specialization breaks down: dancers sing, singers dance, instrumentalists do both” (The New Yorker)”.

“AMOC’s presentations are truer to the roots of opera than most modern manifestations of the form. The courtly masques of Renaissance Italy, from which opera arose, placed music, dance, and poetry on equal terms, with a playful spirit predominating…The emphasis on dance and movement gives AMOC an especially original stamp.’ (The New Yorker)

Julia Eichten and Keir GoGwilt conducted the “Craigie Hill”creative workshop for 12 hours over three days and the result was transformative. With great compassion and skill, Julia and Keir engaged the young dancers in a process that was empowering, reminding them “not to cancel themselves, what they have to say matters”.