UC Riverside Presents: A Collaboration Between Victoire and UCR M.F.A. Dance Students

New York band Victoire and UCR M.F.A. dance students perform a unique collaboration at the Culver Center


Choreographers Dan Schuchart and Monica Rodero are collaborating with avant-garde quintet from New York, Victoire, for a performance at the Culver Center on Jan. 23.

Victoire — a New York-based, all-female quintet that combines strings, clarinets, keyboards and lo-fi electronics to create full-bodied, electro-acoustic orchestras and operas — is performing a West Coast concert at the Culver Center on Jan. 23.

Unique to the performance is a collaboration with UCR M.F.A. dance students who will channel the ensemble’s sound into a live performance. Choreographers Daniel Schuchart and Monica Rodero will provide a seamless conversation of movement matching Victoire’s immersive and imaginative soundscape.

Founded by composer Missy Mazzoli, Victoire’s music is often compared to that of composer Phillip Glass and the band Sigur Ros.  They’ve performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and other prestigious venues around the world, and Victoire’s debut album, “Cathedral City,” made several top-ten lists in 2010, including NPR’s best classical album and The New Yorker’s most memorable album lists.

Just how did this fortuitous collaboration come about? Dan Schuchart, one of the event’s choreographers, says that the idea came after UCR Presents asked various departments to suggest performers they’d like to see in the series.  “We  [collaborator Monica Rodero and I] previously worked with Victoire’s amazing keyboardist, Lorna Krier, on other projects. When we heard Victoire’s music a couple years ago we knew we wanted to work with it.” 

The duo felt that Victoire would be a great fit for UCR Presents, so they proposed it to Professor Wendy Rogers. She passed it on to Todd Wingate [the vice chancellor for student affairs], with whom the choreographers discussed the possibility of collaborating with Victoire. “The project has long been a hope that is finally coming to fruition,” Schuchart says.


Victoire is a New York-based, all-female quintet that combines strings, clarinets, keyboards and lo-fi electronics to create full-bodied, electro-acoustic orchestras and operas.

What about Victoire’s music makes it interesting for you as a choreographer?

Victoire’s music is very compositionally smart and very interesting to use because of its complexity — there are many, many layers of rhythm, melody, and harmony happening at once, yet there is an openness to the pieces.  The music surrounds the listener in a way that allows one to paint their own picture that is never quite the same twice. Victoire’s music is haunting and beautiful.

In our conversations, Missy has described her work as attempting to create an aural landscape that fully envelops the listener, an immersive experience that the listener can step into.  We are trying to create a similar effect by having the presence of the dance and movement carry throughout the evening.

How would you describe your conception/vision of the choreography?

The work is about movement textures and creating interesting spatial configurations and interactions. Victoire’s musical compositions have such an open and expansive feel to them that we found our contribution had to either really match that, or serve as contrast.  The music often has these really rich complexities with both dark and light tones happening at the same time, and so the choreography needed to accentuate, or at least acknowledge, these simultaneous dualities.

We tried to weave a tapestry for the evening in which Victoire’s individual songs and the movements we have choreographed create an evening of work that is connected, rather than a showcase of individual pieces.

Describe your process. How did you plan on channeling the ensemble’s sound into a live performance? What were some of the considerations you took when choreographing?

The night is primarily a music concert with danced accompaniment, and creating the movement for the music was a process of trial and error.  We made movement using several exercises, sometimes with the music playing, and other times in silence, and then we would see what worked best to certain pieces by Victoire.  Pairing dance with music is nothing revolutionary, but there is something amazing that happens when artists get together with an entrepreneurial spirit to support one another in the creation of something new.

Composer Missy Mazzoli describes the sound of Victoire as a type of aural landscape that the audience steps into, which was a statement that we kept in mind as we considered the audience’s physical experience of watching the show at the Culver Center.  Where people watch from in the gallery space makes a big difference in what they see, hear and feel in the evening.  We’ve taken careful consideration of the audience’s experience and sight lines from the seats in the main gallery, to standing room on the ground floor, to looking down on the performance space from above.  Each audience member will have a different physical viewpoint of the night, as well as the option to move about and select a new “seat” to watch from during the show.

You’ve also mentioned manipulating scenes through depth of field. Can you give an example of this?

We often think about the stage as a landscape of actions so what we are looking for and experimenting with is when two or more actions are happening at the same time how that effects what the audience focuses on.  There is foreground and background, but we can play with what is the primary focus.  For example, placing a slow, quiet sustained movement downstage or a series of fast, sharp movement creates a layer you look past to see the primary in the background.

What can attendees of the event expect to see?

Musically and choreographically we are conceptualizing the evening as a whole, meaning that rather than taking breaks between pieces (which Victoire usually does) they will be composing additional intros, outros, and interludes to knit their compositions together.

So, along with the complex choreography we have created to go with certain pieces we have also created some very simple movement structures that will play out through the evening.

Does this kind of collaboration between visiting artists and UCR M.F.A. students happen often?  If not, is this the kind of performance you look forward to doing again?

Collaborations between visiting artists and students are always different, ranging from workshops to lectures and at times performances.  Our experience here at UCR is that this particular type of collaboration doesn’t happen very often.  We feel very lucky to work with Victoire on this concert and would absolutely pursue similar projects.

What’s the best take away that you get from this collaboration?

Our experience in working together and with others is that the richness of collaboration always far exceeds what can be created alone.  Plus, living with Victoire’s music over the last few months as our aural landscape at home and in rehearsal has been wonderful.

Victoire will play at the Culver Center on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 8 p.m. The event is free and seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-6049
E-mail: konrad.nagy@ucr.edu

Additional Contacts

Denise Stadelbacher
Tel: (951) 827-4629
E-mail: denise.stadelbacher@ucr.edu

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