On April 17, 2015 at FringeArts in Philadelphia, fidget premiered a choreographic staging of Dust, a ninety-minute experimental opera by composer Robert Ashley. In 2012, fidget received permission from the composer to stage the work using the 1998 recording. This project took on even more weight upon news of Robert Ashley’s death on March 3, 2014. The project includes choreography by Megan Bridge, live interactive video design by Peter Price, and is performed by a cast of five dancers (Bridge, Christina Gesualdi, Beau Hancock, Greg Holt, and Michele Tantoco). The project’s dramaturg is Erin Manning (with additional dramaturgical support from Laura Vriend and Peter Price), and Lucinda Childs is working on the project as a choreographic mentor to Bridge.
Robert Ashley (1930-2014) was not just a composer, but a brilliant writer and librettist. At fidget, we’ve been listening to Ashley’s music for about fifteen years, and our appreciation of one of his operas, Dust, has grown into almost an obsession. It opens with Ashley’s solo voice, weaving a fictional story about the characters that the composer can see in a park across the street, looking through the window of his Tribeca apartment. Ashley’s libretto weaves otherworldly yet everyday narratives into a thick fabric of spoken text which is creased and textured by the cadence and rhythm of the spoken voice. The movement material for Dust is being developed out of daily improvisational practice inspired by workshops Bridge took with Deborah Hay in 2008 and 2012. Initial studies for the group sections are inspired by the pedestrian movement and pattern-based repetition of Lucinda Child’s early minimalist choreographies.