Andre Kasten
June 1, 2015

Music for contemporary

Kasten (left) working with a dancer on Gray St, the evening-length production funded in part with Kasten’s A.C.E. Award winnings.

For Family Matters, the piece that took second place at the 2013 Capezio A.C.E. Awards competition, choreographer Andre Kasten chose a piano and strings score by folk-instrumental sextet Balmorhea. The music swells to a cinematic crescendo as the dance progresses, yet the sonic story never overpowers the action unfolding among five dancers onstage. That’s thanks to a conscious effort on Kasten’s part.

“It’s about having a pas de deux with the music,” says the Las Vegas–based choreographer. “Sometimes the music gets so huge that you can’t compete with it. In those moments, I go back to my original thought of what these people are feeling at that time. Instead of trying to dance it as big as possible, I’ll give stillness or just introspection. That sucks the audience in.”

He uses the reverse approach with quieter moments. “When the music settles down, it doesn’t mean you have to settle down yourself,” he says. “When the silence happens, that might be a time you go crazy.” DT

Artist: Ray LaMontagne

Album: Till the Sun Turns Black

“I sometimes listen to mood music while I create, to get my mind away from the specific song I am creating for. This album has a mellow tone that doesn’t push me into a corner to create a certain way. I enjoy the passion and feeling he brings to his music.”



Artist: Citizen Cope

Album: The Clarence Greenwood Recordings

“I use this when I am creating work that calls for a little bit more groove and soulfulness.”




Artist: Balmorhea

Song: “Truth”

“I used this for the work I created for the Capezio A.C.E. Awards. I wanted a song that could take you on a ride. The instruments create poetry, and the music takes on a life of its own.”



Artist: Other Lives

Album: Other Lives

“This album always comes to mind when I’m creating new work. Each song has its own magic that is different from the next and allows me to take my vision into a totally different world. Truly one of my favorite artists.”



Artist: Otis Redding

Song: “A Change Is Gonna Come”

“It’s hard to find music these days that exhibits the same soul and simplicity that musicians in the past brought. I’ve always thought that art should make you feel, more than anything else, and Otis does that for me.”



Photo (top) by Mai Podobin, courtesy of Andre Kasten

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