The Makespeak Method Explained

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From an interview for the Mark Morris Dance Center newsletter (Feb. – March 2017) ::

Composer Haggai Cohen-Milo pulls from years of interdisciplinary performance and collaboration with dancers and choreographers to develop the Makespeak Method. Below, he breaks down how he breaches common gaps between the ways in which music and dance approach the creative process.

How does the Makespeak Method change the way dancers and musicians perform together?
Makespeak gives the same importance to the dance and the music component of a performance; there is no hierarchy. It emancipates the performers of both mediums so they are able to influence the result in an equal way. We emphasize the interdependency of music and dance to create a truly collaborative process, and provide concrete tools for dancers and musicians to communicate, practice together, create collaboratively, and improvise with full awareness.

How does Makespeak aid in the choreography process?
Makespeak provides tools for dancers to hear, interact and even create music. Through this method for engagement, dancers get to learn how musicians think, listen, compose and improvise. 

Using protocols such as Translation, Framing, Intensity Matching, and Rhythmic Control, the method provides tools to turn music into movement in a specific and direct way (and vice versa).

Do you need a musical background to learn Makespeak?
No musical background is needed to start learning the Makespeak method. Through a module called “multi-level listening,” each student has the opportunity to approach the workshop at their own musical level and grow from there. Dancers with all levels of musical proficiency will find something new and enriching.

What can dancers expect when they attend your workshop?
We start with warm up led by my partner Naima Mazic (Brussels), followed by practice of four Makespeak protocols focusing on Listening, Rhythm, Translation, and Improvisation. Each is a collaborative process. Dancers are encouraged to use whatever movement language they are comfortable with. We’ll cover techniques to listen and interact deeply with music as well as increase the dancers overall confidence working musicians, breaking down melody to its elements: pitch, dynamic, and articulation, as well as translating those elements into movement. We’ll also explore improvisation modules which refer to movement and sound in equal terms.

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