Proa (‘Prow’) (2018) is the cornerstone of a larger exchange between Delfos Danza and Ensemble Dal Niente and their respective home cities of Mazatlán and Chicago. Choreography and music revolve around ideas of voyage and displacement, incorporating related imagery such as water, circle, and mirror. The prepared piano mirrors the harp. Its preparation involves a device –built out of cell phone motors– that activates the strings of the piano to produce sounds uncharacteristic of the instrument. All these sounds are performed “live”. Dance and music portray different yet complementary realities. The choreography employs both emotionally and politically charged symbols. The music, on the other hand, is cold, distant and somewhat indifferent. The sound surrounds the dancers immersing them in a multilayered texture while the movement of the dancers lends the music a rhythmic frenzy it does not possess on its own
Music: Tomás Gueglio. Choreography: Claudia Lavista. Dancers: Claudia Lavista, Xitlali Piña Poujol, Roseli Arias, Renato Gonzalez. Harp: Ben Melsky
(Excerpt from Strings Magazine's blog feature on the project. Click HERE for a link to the blog)
"Gueglio, Melsky, and the Delfos dancers developed the sounds, choreography, and structure for Proa during a week-long residency in Mazatlan, Mexico in June of 2017. “The spirit of this exchange,” says Gueglio, “is one that celebrates the collaboration between artists coming from different places, different walks of life, different disciplines, and that even speak a different language. In this sense, this initiative can hopefully be considered a bit of a remedy to the type of discourse that has sadly become too loud of a presence in the last couple of years.”
Melsky adds, “The choreography for Proa started with a basic idea, a circle. I believe this was Claudia Lavista’s idea [the artistic co-director of Delfos], as circularity suggests an appealing dynamic between repetition and variation, something that could be parallel to an immigration or journey. Using this, we started building the world of Proa, and the themes, patterns, figures, etc. contained within. Our job felt like it was part creator, part excavator, and part scientist. We’d try something, record it, discuss and repeat.”
Gueglio’s compositions are noted for their surreal and evocative underpinnings, and include chamber, orchestral, and electronic music, as well as experimental ways to create new sounds from old instruments.
“The piano,” Gueglio says, “I thought of as the mirror image of the harp and derives from a series of pieces entitled ‘Nokia Etudes,’ in which a device built out of cell phone motors activates the strings of the piano to produce sounds that do not sound like a piano.”