Overtime is a collaborative work, the first version of which was created as a final project for the interdisciplinary class "Movement and Sound" at Columbia University in 2001.
The original team consisted of artists Isami Ching and Alex Lee, composers Keith Moore and Nicholas Marantz, choreographer Malene Schjønning, dancers Liz Pearlman and Diana Torba, and violinist Maja Cerar. Several "branches" have already grown out of this work and have become independent. Two of these are Living Creature and Trio, both of which were premiered at the Merce Cunningham Dance Studios in downtown New York in 2001.
Trio was further developed by composer Keith Moore and choreographer Malene Schjønning, dancers Liz Pearlman and Tessa Chandler, and violinist Maja Cerar.
The concept of OverTime emerged from numerous discussions of the creative team regarding how people tend to believe that technology empowers and liberates them, while they disregard how it also imposes severe constraints on them. People treat technological objects as if they were living creatures and even accept that the objects take on lives on their own.
OverTime is a suite of short movements, in which a violinist and three dancers combine in various constellations, enacting a sequence of encounters between life/technology hybrids. The paradox culminates in an absurd situation: A giant "breathing" pillow made of 'wee-wee pads' needs to be kept alive with violin sounds (animating the breathing, as it were), just as a virtual pet needs to be maintained by regular attention. Artist Isami Ching explains: "Watching the composers and dancers exploring the technology made me think about cyborgs and our relationships to technology in our everyday life. I thought perhaps there might be a way that we could have a dancer or violinist interact with a physical manifestation of technology as a kind of duet or seranade."
Movement - extreme constraints and freedom
One narrative thread through the Overtime suite is the violinist's experience and exploration of movement in variously confined stage spaces A fitted soundproof booth presents the most extreme space limitation; the violin sounds are fed to a microphone and highly processed through sensors controlled by two dancers wearing DIEM suits. Isami Ching: "Maja would be providing the base sounds that Liz and Diana would be altering during their duet. Nicholas wanted a means of having Maja present on stage but unheard. Initial ideas revolved around a kind of "telephone booth." We thus decided to enclose her in a form-fitting case, not unlike a hard shell cello case. I liked the idea of making a 'violinist's case', a case that would capture a particular violinist playing a particular composition." The extreme opposite of this confinement occurs immediately after the booth segment, when the violinist bursts on stage fencing with the bow in vehement strokes.
Malene Schjønning, choreographer, states: "After having seen Maja (violin) and Liz (dance) improvise in a rehearsal, I went into the studio alone and created a movement phrase inspired by the way Maja plays and holds her violin. I taught the phrase to both Maja and Liz and created a floor variation and a jumping variation with and for Liz. Maja and I developed a solo movement for her."
Maja Cerar, violinist: "It was amazing to see that when the dancers were working on the choreography for the duet they started to look more violinist-like than a real violinist. Their movements became extrapolations of violin playing and made me think that this is what violin playing would be like if there weren't the physical requirements of producing sound by bowing across strings."
It occurred a few times that the phrases of the choreography were determined before Keith Moore composed the music for a particular section. The music, therefore, sometimes had to be tailored to specific body movements of the violinist. Maja Cerar: "When I spin along the wall I can only use my upper half of the bow; when I roll across the floor I can only bow in one direction and not the other." Composer Keith Moore: "The score for Trio consists of eight squares which the violinist cycles through several times. The arrows in the squares translate into spatial paths mapped on the fingerboard (left hand and sounding point), the air (fencing), and the floor (choreographed movement)."