Sitting with Martha Carter in a quiet hotel restaurant, it’s easy to soak in her passionate responses to questions I quietly pose. One of my curiosities is about her interests in Ligeti as a composer.
The thing about Martha is she loves context, so she is able to paint a quick picture for me of how she started collaborating with musicians in the first place, a story that goes all the way back to a childhood friend whom she fondly refers to as Marc. An internationally touring violinist, he is a collaborator in the MicroCosmos string quartet featured onstage in Speaking in Ligeti. Staying in contact for years, when Marta Marta productions moved to Vancouver, Marc Destrubé and Martha Carter were able to reunite beginning a beautiful dialogue in 2011; researching Ligeti’s scores, methods and painful life history. Together they have persevered through scheduling, research and developing democratic practise between dancers and musicians as performers to offer audiences the full experience of a dance and music partnership. Discussing her inspiration to collaborate with musicians Marta remembers going to the concert hall and filling in choreographic loopholes within her imagination. “People go to concerts to listen and they go to dance shows to watch” however in Speaking in Ligeti your attention is drawn to both.
Carter has a wonderful affinity for dialoging. As humans we are constantly involved with conversation and I become more aware of that fact during our meeting. When she creates a piece she stresses the importance of involving her artists in the creation process. She trusts the professional artists with whom she works and sees the value in the sharing of responsibility. Beyond the involvement of her immediate circle, she tells me of her awareness of the give and take with the broader world culture. Talking of the electronic music scene she draws inspiration from the “world dance movement” where the core concept of music moving people to dance is separated from the “high brow” arts movement.
Though in movement Carter’s eye is drawn to line from ballet training, she is inspired by the urban dance culture and the cross fertilization of various forms of dance including ballet contemporary and street dance. Something she credits to her time in Montreal where dance is informed by a diversity of cultures and is celebrated through festivals and support by the general public. “Even the airport advertises dance!” To which I nod my head wistfully.
And then, we come back to Ligeti. Her interest in the composer chosen is in his playfulness and clear yet complex structural elements. The musicians and dancers investigated the compositions and historical situation of Gyorgy Ligeti; playing with actual scores and components of his work while using it as a springboard to other creative possibilities. As we conclude our discussion I take a breath and am most excited to see the Friday performance of Speaking in Ligeti. I’m moved by her sensitivity to the life of the composer and inspired by her love and care for the creation, allowing it to take on a life of it’s own as the dialogue between musicians and dancers continues.