Kiss Kiss (1995)

Duration: 11’
For electronic percussion (Korg X3 synth, and sampler) and pre-recorded track
Choreography: Michael Keegan-Dolan
First performed at the Lilian Bayliss Theatre, London as part of the 1995 Ballet Central National Tour, and later revived in 1999

Arguably Michael Keegan-Dolan’s finest piece for Ballet Central, created while dancing with the Kosh, Kiss Kiss is choreographed for four dancers, a red couple and a blue couple, and it deals with the consequences of the extra-curricular activities of the red boy with the blue girl, and his deserved comeuppance. Memorably created by Paul Walsh, Katie Watson, Quang Van and Yuko Okada, there was a hint of a strange and interesting inter-racial subplot going on as well.

It was set to an electronic percussion score, created from a Korg X3 synth and an Akai D950 sampler on a dying Atari Notator. In fact the computer crashed irredeemably some six minutes into the piece, necessitating some desperate reconstruction work. While it shadows the plot very closely, the music is in fifteen fairly self-contained sections. This means that for the most part the music moves in defined steps, rather than gradual transitions, creating constant gear changes that continually energize the piece.

Because percussion scores are not dependent on melodic phrase structures in the same way as more motivic music is, it was possible for a lot of this score to be created in the dance studio rather than separately. Armed with a mere conga, it was possible to determine the phrase structure organically during the creative process, and then go away and compose the score so that it really worked musically. In many ways this is the best sort of collaboration, allowing both composer and choreographer space to get it right, generating a score that gives texture and colour to the dynamics of the plot and to what is going on onstage. It also meant that more complex metric structures could be created hand in glove with the choreographer, seven for the red couple, eight for the blue.

photos courtesy of Ballet Central