Ira Glass, host of “This American Life,” has often called radio “the most visual medium.”
The idea may seem outlandish at first, but a well-conceived radio segment can be a visual experience. Words, music, sound gathered from the field and judiciously used sonic effects have the capability to let our imaginations soar, painting a kaleidoscope of pictures in our minds that give stories a visceral vibrancy.
Still, radio may seem an unlikely platform for dance.
Glass’ recent national tour of “Three Acts, Two Dancers & One Radio Host,” a live stage show conceived by the public radio icon and the dancers Anna Bass and Monica Bill Barnes, combined two art forms that, as the public radio icon put it, “have no business being together. One is all words and no visuals. One is all visuals and no words.”
With their well-received performances across the country, Glass and his fellow collaborators demonstrated that radio and dance can pas-de-deux together as gracefully as Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn.
Here at CPR, we want to take this idea a step further. Instead of presenting dance to a radio audience in the live environment, we’d like to explore what dance on the radio might look like—or rather, sound like.
The idea is to draw attention to the unchartered aural potential of dance, a predominantly visual art form — discerning audible textures like the swishing of costumes, dancers’ breath, subtleties in the music, and so on. And we also think it’ll provide another outlet for experimentation and fun for our dance community.
For the launch of CPR’s new weekly arts and culture show, we are assembling a line-up of great local companies and institutions including Wonderbound, the CU Boulder dance department and the Colorado Ballet to represent the diverse Colorado dance community on our airwaves and online at cpr.org.
Each organization will present a 30-to-60-second dance specially commissioned for the radio during the inaugural episode of the show on Friday March 7 at 10.30 a.m. and 7.30 p.m.
This exploration won’t end there. We also want to hear from you.
Choreograph your own radio dance
We invite you to participate in our Radio Dances project. Please put your imaginations to work and join the professional and student companies in creating a 30-60-second dance piece for the radio.
Send us a recording of your piece along with its title and a few sentences telling us what it’s about and who’s involved. Please attach a high-quality photo of your dance along with a credit for the photographer who took it. We'd also like to know the names of the choreographer(s) and performer(s) involved in creating your dance.
IMPORTANT: IF YOU ARE USING MUSIC, PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO USE THE MUSIC AND SEND US THE NAME OF THE PIECE/SONG, COMPOSER AND MUSICIANS INVOLVED.
The email address to send your submission to is firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll select audience dances to appear on our website, Facebook page and airwaves. We encourage you all to be as creative as possible and seek out ways to make radio a viable medium for dance.
We welcome dances in any style, from ballet to bhangra and hip-hop to hula.
"Hello, blue soul" by Erika Randall
To get your creative juices flowing, here’s an example of a radio dance performed and choreographed by Erika Randall, Director of Dance at CU Boulder.
“Hello, blue soul” is a tribute to Veronica Sawyer, (aka “Blue”) of the 1988 cult classic “Heathers.” There is a moment in the film when Veronica walks, fully dressed, into the shower at school. This scene, only 20 seconds long, impacted me deeply and always read to my lusty teenage heart as a “modern dance moment.”
In my piece, I weave my memory of that scene with the description of my own very specific gestures performed in real time in the shower, juxtaposing past and present. Words and water splash around my body, shaping the aural and kinesthetic experience of the dance.
"Hello, blue soul" was recorded by Daniel Beahm.