So Many Moving Parts! It’s the Dallas Chamber Symphony at the Dallas Video Festival
By Michael Granberry | The Dallas Morning News
A parade of moving parts will be in full supply at 8 p.m. Tuesday, when Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent classic Metropolis will illuminate the screen at Dallas City Performance Hall amid a dazzling array of dancers from Southern Methodist University and the Dallas Chamber Symphony performing an original symphonic work.
“It is the largest, most ambitious undertaking that either of our organizations has ever attempted,” says Bart Weiss, the festival’s founder and artistic director. “I know that nobody who comes to this will have ever seen anything like it — ever.”
At the forefront of the live performance is Christopher Dolder, who teaches dance at SMU. The music will be supplied by a dozen players from the Dallas Chamber Symphony and its founder, artistic director and conductor Richard McKay.
Weiss got the idea that “it would be a wonderful collaboration to have Chris do dance, Richard do music and us do film.” What transpired was a six-month project, which Weiss says, “is the most expensive thing we have done in 28 years.”
To elevate the dancers, Dolder built a “24-foot-wide-to-8-foot-wide rake stage with a vanishing point perspective” in a warehouse in Trinity Groves that did not have electricity. The team had to import two generators.
“People have done dance and music,” Weiss says. “People have done music and film. People have done dance and film. But people have not done dance, live music and film.”
Weiss calls Metropolis “such an important film historically. It has influenced science fiction and typography, design. … It is one of the most influential silent films ever.”
Its soundtrack will go silent, however, during Tuesday night’s performance because the Dallas Chamber Symphony will supply the music instead.
McKay and Dolder shoulder the tough assignments, Weiss says, noting “that, from our point of view, it’s really simple: We just hit ‘play.’ I got the easy deal, compared to these guys.”
McKay says the performance will last about 82 minutes, with the conductor having the not-so-easy task of synchronizing the music with the movie and the movements of the dancers. All those moving parts will include the big screen and small screens, an elevated stage on top of a flat stage and constant movement.
Dolder, a former member of the Martha Graham dance troupe, uses dance to help SMU athletes avoid injury and is choreographing the work of 14 dancers for Metropolis.
“The richness of this,” Dolder says, “has allowed me to delve into some deeper, deeper Graham work, which a lot of people haven’t seen around here.”
Weiss revels in the fact that it’s a feast of moving parts. “Your eye will be drawn here and here and here as this music envelops your soul,” he says. And then comes the rest of the festival.
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