Saturday, April 24th, I attended Chris Peck’s Singing Together workshop through CLASSCLASSCLASS.  As advertised, we sang together.  Chris is almost at the end of a Master’s program at Dartmouth; in a month he will defend his thesis on experimental social music.  There’s a lot of sociological and anthropological theory and research that has helped lead Chris to his very particular appropriation of compositions for the voice, ears, and mind, but with the thesis aside, the experience is of a practice that is so simple but requires full presence and tuning of consciousness — to sing, and listen, in a community, as an individual.  The most profound aspect of the workshop, for me, was the way in which Chris has taken complicated music, that from the outside feels totally impenetrable (like, I see this page, and have no idea what it is supposed to manifest, or any idea about how to go about manifesting its intention), and uses it as a tool to reclaim one’s voice.  Essentially, to interact within whatever way serves us, us being, for those four hours of the workshop, a community of singers.  It’s all music that we can sing.  Chris is practicing something totally Radical.  In these very personal experiences and interactions, he is creating a value around social singing — something that has been lost in our culture, and hijacked by the musical industry.  There is performance involved in the work he is doing (the collaboration he and Milka Djordjevich presented at The Chocolate Factory last October was my first interaction with his work), but ultimately, I think it’s about the social singing thing, and the larger ramifications of building value around our voices, and the way a community is formed in that practice.  Later that night at my apartment, Chris got out his guitar, and we sang songs together from his Bluegrass song book.  After going through a few songs, had me sing a longer one alone, to find where I wanted to be in tone, to find my own way around the notes, around the vibration of the guitar’s chords, rather than just following him, and mostly, to just have to sing out.  He joined back in, singing under me, and we sang this song several times through, creating one of the sweetest vocal duets I have ever heard, in my opinion.  I want to do this every day now.

And that is the genius of all this.

To create value.  Forget “audience education” or “outreach.”  How are we, as movement artists, going to facilitate experiences that create value around embodiment, so that an art form such as dance, might become valid in our culture again?  How can we do with embodiment what Chris is doing with voice?

–Maggie Bennett, Movement Research Artist in Residence 2009, performer/collaborator, movement educator (Pilates…),


  • There are already great ideas like – but there is a massive opportunity for someone in the contemporary scene to create a “hausmusik” of moves that could be performed in a bedroom/small space for pleasure which uses the aesthetic of contemporary dance…

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