Take The J Train – Transitory Sound and Movement Collective

Photo by Ron Kiley

Photo by Ron Kiley

Lynn Lane is a man of many talents, but since returning to his hometown, he has primarily made a name for himself as a photographer of dance, theater, and opera. But his work in New York City, during his almost 2 decades in residence there included film, experimental music, and furniture design. After a series of invitation-only collaborative performances at his Midtown studio, Lynn has now created a new vehicle for his multidisciplinary interests: the Transitory Sound and Movement Collective.

In terms of content, the collective focuses on the seamless integration of movement and sound, but emphasis is also placed on the transitory element. “There’s no membership,” explains Lane. “People will be constantly coming in and out, and each performance will be a new collective. Transitory is temporary.” On December 13, the Collective will present Take the J Train at the Rec Room at 7:30 pm.

The roster of collaborators for the December project includes dance artists Annie Arnoult and Jennifer Mabus; musicians Emily Nelson (flute) and Ben Roidl-Ward (bassoon); spoken word artist Ronnie Yates; and New York City filmmaker Ron Kiley. All of the participating artists have an NYC connection, either by having lived or performed there. “We’re using the J train because it’s the last train in New York where you can see out the front window while you ride. The length of time it takes to go from the beginning and end is how long the piece takes.”

The J train line is also elevated, so passengers are able to experience the landscape of New York City. No tunnel darkness here. For the artists, the forty-five minute journey has become an exploration of time and experiment in rhythmic structures. Rather than utilizing a traditional theater or gallery space, Lane has chosen to present his monthly collaborations at the intimate Rec Room, which he says is more conducive to the immersive experiential work that is the goal of the Transitory Sound and Movement Collective.

This marks the third time Lane has worked with Houston-based choreographer/dancer Jennifer Mabus. The first time was in the spring when he created an improvisational soundscape to Mabus’ The Art of Losing; he cites this collaboration as the springboard for his return to performance and sound work. He has also recently collaborated with visual artists Lillian Warren and choreographer/dancer Annie Arnoult in Inside/Outside that was performed at Diverseworks’ 12 Minutes Max. Lane has photographed both Mabus’ and Arnoult’s work, but it’s their experience that made them obvious choices for his art-making. “I think I respond to them because they are both mature dancers, and understand the nature of improvisational work.”

The soundscape for the movement includes field recordings, found sound, and instrumentation. Musicians Emily Nelson and Ben Roidl-Ward will work in much the same way Lane will, in response to the film, dancers, and to each other. This conversation creates what he calls a truly responsive improvisational work.

Take the J Train, like all of the Collective’s creations, begins when the audience enters the space. The piece, already in motion, continues until the artists agree on a stopping point rather finding a definite, possibly abruptive, ending. “A lot of this process comes from me being a Quaker,” Lynn explains. “I think there is importance in sitting and reflecting, and allowing space for introspection.”

Each work begins with an idea and set of parameters devised by Lane, and then the participants are invited to explore that idea. “One of the things that’s really important to me is the idea of listening,” he says. “We listen to each other and the input of each member of the Collective, and try to create a space in which to respond.”

No matter what form the collective takes, movement and sound will always be the fundamental basis of each experience. Lane hopes to develop an audience that draws from all sectors of the arts community and encourage an overlap in art-going. “Right now there is a lot of separation of the audiences in Houston, and I want to bring them together,” he says. “I want the Collective to be interesting to dance people who may not go to experimental music work, and music people who may not go to dance concerts. And then there are people in fine arts who may not see either of these things.”

There’s also the interesting prospective of the Collective introducing Houston to out-of-town artists. Over then next year, Lane will be working with dancers from Houston, Austin, and Dallas who will present solo and group work. The always-changing roster of artists further cements Lane’s creative process of experimentation. “This is an exploration for me,” he says. “The work will change, and the collaborative groups will change. Each piece starts with a base idea, and it evolves when we get into the studio.”

What won’t change is Lane’s commitment to creative ouput and supporting Houston’s arts community. Twenty percent of the profits from performance will go to an arts non-profit charity. Take the J Train will benefit Dance Source Houston. Both initiatives are something everyone can get onboard with.

About the Author

Adam Castañeda is a dancer and arts administrator in Houston, Texas. He is the Executive and Artistic Director of the Pilot Dance Project, a non-profit arts organization with the mission to empower and transform communities through innovative dance, theater, and visual art. With his company he has performed in evening-length works by Ashley Horn, jhon r. stronks, Jennifer Mabus, Jaime Walne-Fruge, and Heather VonReichbauer. When not with the Pilot Dance Project, he enjoys performing with Suchu Dance/Jennifer Wood.

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