Among Artifact Dance Project’s hallmarks is collaboration with local musicians, composers, performing arts groups and visual and film artists. And working with live music.
However, in recasting the story of David and Goliath for the upcoming “Goliath: A Story Retold” performance, Artifact co-founder Ashley Bowman turned to music neither live nor local, but composed, orchestrated and recorded by New York-based independent artist Zack Hemsey.
Hemsey’s “Goliath (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to a Film That Doesn’t Exist)” doesn’t just underscore the tale Bowman wanted to tell. It prefigures it.
Bowman first discovered Hemsey’s music — he will be in Tucson for Goliath’s premiere — when Artifact began collaboration on a film, “Seven Deadly Sins,” with director Cylan William Shaffer, who had been appointed Artifact’s resident film artist. The trailer for the film, which sold out at the Loft Cinema for its one-night showing in 2016, was set to Hemsey’s “Mind Heist” (ditto the trailer for “Inception”), and Bowman began to follow him on Spotify.
Last spring, she listened to Hemsey’s newly released “Goliath,” an instrumental work in 27 titled sections. It immediately resonated with her.
“I clicked play and listened for like an hour,” she said. “I thought, ‘This is amazing.’ I flipped out and thought, ‘I have to do something with this.’ ”
So she did. With Hemsey’s blessing, she created a dance to “Goliath” — though there’s still no film, at least yet.
Hemsey’s score, powerful and alluring, rhythmically vibrant and by turns pounding and tender, is what a lot of musicians would call an instrumental tone poem with, as Hemsey put it in an email, “a narrative implied through the titles of each song.”
For Bowman, it was an a-ha moment: The story was what she had in mind, and the music spoke it.
Hemsey helped Bowman develop the storyline for “Goliath,” the dance. And he helped her with some of the original narration.
“ ‘Goliath’ is inspired by Zack’s album,” Bowman said.
Hemsey said, via email: “I create whatever music resonates with me at the time that I am creating it. I don’t give any thought to genre, style, or even whether people will like it … but fortunately some amount of people seem to regularly listen to it and enjoy it!
“When Ashley approached me about choreographing a dance piece around the music from ‘Goliath,’ I was very intrigued at the prospect. Not having a background in dance, I had no frame of reference to envision what that might look and feel like. But I like not knowing what to expect, and my sense of Ashley was that the music would be in very good hands.
“We discussed a few ways to approach the project philosophically. She could seek to tell the story as I originally envisioned it, tell the story as she interpreted it, or tell a new unrelated story inspired by the music. I encouraged her to proceed in whatever way creatively resonated with her the most, and in the end, Ashley ended up with a wonderfully unique story, one that has kindred elements with that of the original, but is distinctly its own.
“I’m very much looking forward to seeing it in person!”
The dance runs Thursday, March 21, through Sunday, March 24, at the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre.