“Tigger” in Turkey

The Washington Ballet selects Robert Benford to present
“Fluctuating Hemlines” in Bodrum, Turkey
By Janel Martir

Robert Benford, affectionately called “Tigger” by his students and friends, is an internationally renowned percussionist and composer. He lends his expertise to create sounds and music for Brooklyn Parkinson Group’s PD Movement Lab at the Mark Morris Dance Center in downtown Brooklyn. This year, The Washington Ballet (TWB) selected Mr. Benford’s piece entitled “Fluctuating Hemlines” to be performed at the 9th International Bodrum Ballet Festival for an international audience of 1,500 guests. The score, originally commissioned by TWB Artistic Director, Septime Webre, in 1997, was first presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. On August 25, 2011 Mr. Benford presented his piece at an outdoor venue adjacent to the historic Bodrum Castle, on the southwest Turkish coast.

The dancers were dressed in white and moved against a dramatic black backdrop. Traditionally, the orchestra is located in a lowered area in front of the stage in what is aptly called the “pit”. But in Bodrum, Mr. Benford’s team of percussionists was stationed on a platform off to side of the stage. This location on the platform, Mr. Benford believed, was fitting for the presentation as it allowed the music to engage the dancers and audience without overshadowing them. Mr. Benford describes the piece as “very physical”, allowing the dancers to engage the music in an imaginative way. This type of intelligent engagement with music is also what Mr. Benford hopes to imbue participants of the PD Movement Lab with, where members are allowed to explore and playfully experiment with movement.