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'Passages' offers a mix of abstract art forms

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Suzee Grilly performs in front of Bruce Bayard's projected art. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell photoBob Pennell
 Posted: 2:00 AM October 03, 2013

When five artists from five aesthetic disciplines collaborate, the result always is unexpected and surprising. Narrative leads, music creates sonic landscapes, imagery shifts, and singing and dancing breathe human life into the elements.

Such is the multimedia, performance-art show contrived by digital artist Bruce Bayard, composer Todd Barton, dancer Suzee Grilley, vocalist Christine Williams and poet Jonah Bornstein.

"It's improvisational, although there are some set elements to it," Bayard says. "Rather than rehearse, we've gotten together and just jammed. It's exciting and amazing because there is no script. We go into the performance process aware of what each of us can contribute, then find our singular voices in the whole. The audience is integral as well because they're being offered a narrative that allows them to take whatever they want from the experience."

If you go

What: "Passages"

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5

Where: The DanceSpace, 280 E. Hersey St., Ashland

Tickets: $15; at the door

Call: 541-482-2253

The group will present its improvised concert of music, light, movement and spoken word at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at The DanceSpace, 280 E. Hersey St., Ashland. Tickets cost $15 and are available at the door or by calling 541-482-2253.

"We've come up with an expressive art form — not necessarily new — but exciting and genuinely engaging," Bayard says.

"Passages" is a natural progression of "Triptychs," a series of smaller concerts that Barton and Bayard presented last year. The two layered cinematic, spacious and textural music with three panels — a triptych — of projected digital images, inviting one guest to perform at each show.

"We invited Michael Maag, who can mix video in real time, along with percussionist Terry Longshore and David Bithell, who plays a modified, electronic trumpet," Bayard says. "That was an interesting session. It was then I realized that one of the things missing from "Triptychs" was human breath. That's when we invited Christine and guitarist Ed Dunsavage to perform with us. Getting the human element into the mix also includes the human body, and that's where Suzee came in."

Barton, Bayard, Longshore, Maag and Grilley are former members of Sonoluminescence, an Ashland performance art group that created improvisational sound, movement and light.

"That's how "Triptychs" came about," Bayard says. "Todd and I decided to do our thing and perform for small audiences. It allowed me to work on some video experiments and learn to play synthesizer. I also create soundscapes with a cello.

"For this performance, we wanted to expand on the series and use an ensemble. Last year's series just seemed to be lacking with no singing, dancing or poetry. Also, it was very abstract. Bringing in a poet who uses words, rhyme and a sense of story really rounds out the human elements.

"The one thing about passages is that we all go through them," Bayard says. "Sometimes they're wonderful, remarkable events, and other times they may be more difficult and trying. Because the show's narrative is so abstract, we process the art in personal ways. Whatever the passage is, it's something that we share."

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