Dance companies and other artistic groups did not escape the wrath that was Hurricane Sandy. The Seán Curran Company was hit hard by the recent storm. Its tour with The King’s Singers, which Friday comes to Danville, had just gotten under way when Sandy raged through New York City. Curran said the dance troupe lost a week of rehearsal to the hurricane.
“At the time, it felt completely devastating,” Curran said in a telephone interview. “It was the last week for me to finish the dances, to clean and polish them. We lost four days of rehearsal. In downtown New York, there was no power, no electricity, no Internet where I lived. You couldn’t even buy a newspaper.”
Curran wondered if the first few dates of the tour should be canceled so the dance troupe could get caught up, in a sense.
“We want to deliver the best product we can,” Curran explained. “I (still) had to finish choreographing one of the pieces.”
Rather than cancel, Curran and the company found rehearsal spaces throughout New York City. Curran himself “did a lot of homework.”
“I was at home in my dark East Village apartment ... with the candles on, trying to choreograph. ... I felt like Edgar Allen Poe 200 years ago, trying to make art with the candlelight,” he said.
Meanwhile, the members of The King’s Singers did have to cancel a performance at Carnegie Hall because of a crane that was dangling on 57th Street in New York City, said Paul Phoenix of the a cappella vocal ensemble. That performance has been rescheduled for Feb. 18. Phoenix said the cancellation was frustrating but The King’s Singers were lucky, considering the degree of suffering the members were seeing around them as they stayed at JFK airport hotel.
“It was nothing compared to the people who were staying at the hotel who were not transit passengers,” Phoenix said in a telephone interview “People were made homeless by the hurricane.”
Both groups now are on tour together, a collaboration Phoenix calls exciting. The brain child for the collaboration was his, he added.
“Four or five years ago, I was thinking about how much I would like share a stage with a dance company and how I thought it would be an interesting collaboration from both an oral and visual aspect,” Phoenix explained. “It would be a shared space between dancers and singers.”
A conversation was started with Seán Curran Company. It took a few years to mesh schedules and get everything in place logistically, as well as create a program that is “commercially viable,” Phoenix said.
“It’s all very well, having great artistic ideals, but you have to put something together that people want to come and see,” he explained. “We carefully put together a program. In terms of a program for us, we used quite a lot of existing King’s Singers repertoire that we think would suit sharing a space with dancers.
“We used two movements of a piece commissioned two years ago by Gabriela Elena Frank. That’s where ‘Travel Songs’ came from. It’s a work in three movements and we’re doing two. ... (The movements” lend themselves very well to being choreographed.”
Curran said it is unusual for a dance company and an all-male, a cappella singing group to “combine forces to create an evening” of entertainment. But, “I love it when I can perform with live music,” he added.
Noted Phoenix, “Seán really immersed himself in the repertoire of The King’s Singers ... and came up with particular recordings he liked.”
It’s been an exciting journey, Phoenix said. And what will be at the Norton Center for the Arts Friday should please the eyes and ears.
“Not to sound flip but I want my choreography to tickle the eyeball,” Curran said. “And with The King’s Singers? Their singing is just so rich.
“(The evening) will be a sensual experience of seeing and listening. When I teach at New York University, which is another hat I wear, I say I’m interested in a singing body and a dancing voice. You can sing with the body ... and make dances” with voices, he added.
Phoenix said it’s exciting to bring “Travel Songs” to stage.
“What we do is bring together both fans of dance who do not know much about The King’s Singers and fans of The King’s Singers who might not know much about dance. ... It’s the coming together of two different disciplines onstage ... and the people seeing things and hearing things they haven’t heard before,” he explained.