Racer Sessions

Sundays, 8-10pm at Cafe Racer in Seattle, WA

Maria Mannisto - August 12, 2013


Art and movement are deeply intertwined. We often speak of being “moved” by a musical performance or visual art, but what exactly does that mean? What is it about some performances that exhaust us and make us want to stop listening, and others that make us feel charged and exhilarated?

It’s often not perfection or precision in performance that moves us. We can be bored to tears at flawless performances, just as we can be deeply moved and energized by imperfectly executed performances. The key lies in the deep feeling layer of our bodies and consciousness, which can either be stirred or remain static when we experience visual or auditory art. In any art there has to be movement; as soon as it stops moving, it dies. As performers, how do we create art that stirs and moves our audiences? In the last few years I’ve begun closely exploring the connection between movement and my musical practice, primarily through the art of yoga. Because vocal technique is quite abstract, my shift from an intellectual and analytical approach to singing to one that is felt at a deeper level in my body has brought new dimensions of clarity and freedom to my singing voice. By feeling certain internal movements and allowing them to freely translate into external shapes, I embody my singing voice to add power and emotional intensity. I firmly believe that this movement at the core feeling layer can add depth to any instrumentalist’s performance, and this internal movement translates easily to a listener’s experience of the sound. 

My dear friend, yoga teacher and dancer Kathleen Hunt will be joining me during this week’s Racer Session, along with possibly a few additional dancers. We will be exploring the connections between improvised movement and improvised sound. Kathleen and I will perform several duos of improvised dance and voice, using physical props as external inspiration during performance. The primary goal during this session is to see how external shapes are dictated by internal movement at a subtle level, and how this movement dictates musical sounds. Kathleen and others will continue to improvise dance and movement throughout the remainder of the evening’s musical improvisations. As you pay attention to the movement of the dancers, try to examine where the movement is initiated. Focus not only on the external gross body, but more importantly on the internal feeling level. What role does breath play in the movement? Can you internally recreate the shapes made by the dancer? How does this create shifts in your emotional and feeling state? Can you feel the internal movement of breath and energy through your body? How does this affect the sounds you are creating with your instrument? Try to arrive at each improvisation with an open mind and no expectations. This is an opportunity to think with your body rather than your mind!

I look forward to moving and creating with you all this Sunday!