Dance is one of Graham’s favorite mediums to collaborate in. Over the years his primary partners have been Ballet Austin, Ariel Dance Theater and more recently Forklift Danceworks. Much of this music is available on albums from the “Cult of Color” soundtrack to “Why the Sea is Salt” which features several tracks from Ariel shows.
Led by artistic director and choreographer Stephen Mills, Ballet Austin is Austin’s most adventurous and nationally-recognized classical performing arts institution. 2008’s “Cult of Color”, a three way collaboration between Mills, visual artist Trenton Doyle Hancock, and Reynolds, remains one of Graham’s all-time favorite projects. A year and a half later Graham worked with Stephen again, this time deconstructing and reconstructing Bach for a piece called “Bounce”. The next part of that series premieres this fall with variations on Mozart scored for amplified and effected cello and violin.
20 dancing trash trucks on the old airport tarmac, 200 two-steppers in front of the state capital and a traffic cop’s daily motions carved into an intimate solo piece. These are some of Graham’s collaborations with Forklift Danceworks and Allison Orr – choreographer and artistic director. Turning everyday movements into art is Orr’s specialty and she’s become a favorite collaborator of Graham’s. Look for pieces with Austin Symphony Orchestra conductor Peter Bay as well as electrical line-men from Austin Energy in the future.
Ariel Dance Theater
Graham learned to compose for dance through his work with Ariel Dance Theater and choreographer Andrea Ariel. For more than a decade their work together has developed, often in collaboration with fellow composer Peter Stopschinski. One early highlight was taking an old car dealership and transforming it into a performance space, with the offices being visual art galleries and the main showroom become the stage and seating.
With Ballet Austin
2016-2017 “Belle Redux”
2011 “Though the Earth Gives Way”
2010 “Truth and Beauty”
2008 “Cult of Color: Call to Color”
With Forklift Danceworks
2013 “PowerUP”. In Progress.
2012 “Solo Symphony”
2010 “T is For: Two Hundred Two-Steppers on the Steps of the Texas State Capital”
2010 “Traffic Maven”
2009 “The Trash Project”
With Ballet Idaho
With Sharir-Bustamente Danceworks
2004 “Silence Erupted”
2003 “Absent Body”
With Ariel Dance Theater
2012 “The Geometry of Proximity”
2007 “Gyre” with Peter Stopschinski
2005 “Detour” with Peter Stopschinski
2003 “Shoulder to Shoulder,” with Peter Stopschinski
2002 “Boxheads” with Peter Stopschinski
2001 “Pexo” (as improviser under Walter Thompson)
2001 “The Silent Circle” with Peter Stopschinski
2000 “Seven Rooms to the Soul”
With Spank Dance Company
2000 “In Concert”
1999 “ Not Just Shock”
1998 “2 Times 2 is 1”
With Undertow Dance Company
1999 “Not Just Shock”
1997 “In Concert”
Seven Daughters of Eve – An NYC Collaboration
The fourth production of the 7 Daughters of Eve Thtr. & Perf. Co. will be staged in 2017, at New York Live Arts and Abrons Arts Center, jointly. It is a two-pronged project, consisting of an experimental play with songs entitled THE SECURELY CONFERRED, VOUCHSAFED KEEPSAKES OF MAERY S., and a series of performance rituals called SASQUATCH RITUALS. Both are written and directed by Sibyl Kempson. The play will premiere in Fall 2017 at New York Live Arts and the RITUALS will take place from Fall 2016 starting at Mt. Tremper Arts in Ulster County to Winter 2017 in non-traditional spaces at Abrons, as well as at the Whitney Museum, Gibney Dance, and at other site-specific locations outside of NYC, for large and small audiences. The two pieces are co-created – two different manifestations of the same project.
THE SECURELY CONFERRED, VOUCHSAFED KEEPSAKES OF MAERY S. combines literary and dramatic narrative with eye-witness accounts of Sasquatch encounters from the internet. It spans several time periods and geographies.
Songs by Austin-based composer Graham Reynolds, after Johannes Brahms and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with lyrics by Kempson, under the musical direction of the legendary Chris Giarmo, who will also perform. Alexandra Dewez will design set and costumes, Eva von Schweinitz will design video.
MAERY S. was originally created by ‘frankensteining’ together the excesses of writing and research from Kempson’s recent collaborations FONDLY, COLLETTE RICHLAND (with Elevator Repair Service) with that of FROM THE PIG PILE: THE REQUISITE GESTURE(S) OF NARROW APPROACH in Austin, TX (with Mr. Reynolds, Rude Mechs and Salvage Vanguard Theater). It was developed further at the Playwrights Center in Minneapolis for a 2013-14 McKnight National Residency and Commission and in the PlayTime laboratory residency at New Dramatists this November 2015.
The SASQUATCH RITUALS will accompany the theatrical production of MAERY S. – a separate but connected cycle of site-specific, live ritual performance installations that expand on the themes, research, and questions raised in MAERY S. The RITUALS are performed by a rotation of six women with movement choreographed by Linda Mancini and songs by Julie LaMendola formerly of Nature Theater of Oklahoma.
My Park, My Pool, My City
Graham Reynolds and Forklift Danceworks collaborate on another civic project — My Park, My Pool, My City.
Centered around one of Austin’s greatest treasures — our public pools — this project will feature the dedicated Aquatics lifeguards and staff who keep Austin swimming. Austin is facing an infrastructure crisis with our city pool system, as many of our pools are leaking and desperately need upgrading. Knowing this, My Park, My Pool, My City has been designed to build appreciation for the folks who steward our Aquatics system and create deeper understanding and connection between city staff, neighborhood residents and citizens from all around Austin who now must address one of the most complex issues facing our city—how to solve our city pool crisis.
Each year for three years, Forklift will be focusing on one East Austin neighborhood and bringing residents and city employees together to tell the story of these vital community gathering places. 3 years, 3 pools, 3 dances. They are beginning this year at Bartholomew Pool, premiering the first of the three dances July 21-22 & 28-29 of 2017.
The dances are accompanied by original music composed and directed by Graham Reynolds, and production and lighting design by Stephen Pruitt.
“My Park, My Pool, My City presents an extraordinary opportunity for residents, artists, and civic and community leaders to work together to explore and address equity and access issues facing Austin’s Eastern Crescent.” —Austin Mayor Steve Adler
For more information, please visit this page.
When asked how creating music for a ballet was different than some of the film scores he has written, Reynolds responded, “Every time the process is a little bit different. Also, as technology evolves, the tools are different too. One of the goals of this was supposed to be innovation as part of the 3M commission. I tried to use all of these tools in my toolbox and dig around.” He continued, “…instead of a handful of music cues spread throughout this larger piece of art, there is music in a ballet, of course, the whole time. The entire sonic audio world is being told by the score, rather than by dialogue, and sound effects, and music, etc.”
“Reynolds’ captivating score — a multi-layered edgy gem of pre-recorded finesse — contrasted electronically ethereal sounds with blasting moments of percussive earthiness. A poignant romantic melody laced throughout, emerging with particularly heart feltness in a string quartet midway through.” -Austin American Statesman
As long-time collaborators, Ballet Austin’s Steven Mills and Graham Reynolds Reynolds know how to bring out the best in each other. Through The Graham Reynolds Project, these artists synthesized their classically innovative styles in an incredible marriage of movement and music. This latest collaboration features a first for Reynolds-an original, 22-minute composition performed by a 25-piece orchestra. While he still features the cello prominently, Reynolds brings a more symphonic sound to Once Belonging. His musical inspiration for this new work is an interesting mash-up: the Sibelius Violin Concerto, Syzmanoski’s Myths, and drum line music. In terms of movement style, Once Belonging is a tribute to classical form expressed through a contemporary lens while thematic phrases tell a story of community and devotion. With tender romanticism in one moment and passionate athleticism the next, Once Belonging is full of humanity, something Mills and Reynolds explore and celebrate in every dance concert they bring to the stage. Bounce features jazzy interludes, pounding percussion and out-of-the-ordinary instrumentation. Gathered in a tight circle of energetic “bounce,” eight dancers build a pulsing momentum that explodes across the stage. The fast-paced, driving movement creates a force you can feel, guaranteed to have you bobbing in your set. Reynolds’ re-imagined Bach’s Suite in A minor serves as the musical foundation for this rambunctious romp of a contemporary ballet.
Premiered on February 12th, 2010, at the Long Center for Performing Arts, Austin, TX / Commissioned by Ballet Austin & Choreography by Stephen Mills
Though the Earth Gives Way
Ballet Suite for Electrified Cello and Violin premiered on April 1st, 2016 at the Long Center for the Performing Arts, Austin, TX
Graham Reynolds gives a nod to Mozart during the creative process but assures you won’t hear any 18th century motifs in the piece. Though the Earth Gives Way features violin and cello with real-time processing accompanied by pre-rendered percussion tracks. There were nine movements, each of which came in at around two or three minutes. Says Reynolds, “I took fragments directly out of the piano concerto score (some very small, some eight bars long) and created my music with them. In most tracks it’s very hard to hear the Mozart, but in one or two it’s a little more overt.” The piece began with a percussion line run through some delay and reverb to create a quasi-ambient bed for the main theme of the work. Most of the movements involved one part wandering line, two parts reverb/delay, and one part percussion loop (accompanied by the occasional tap on the acoustic instruments) so ultimately the piece was held together musically by texture and rhythm, and visually by the dance and the staging.
Cult of Color
Soundtrack to the ballet Cult of Color refuses to sit obediently in any single genre, instead straddling several over the course of 55 minutes. Traces of jazz, rock and industrial music are discernible alongside soundtrack styles and a gothic, theatrical streak runs through this music too. The liner notes describe the ballet as a mythic, tribal world where colour is dreamt of, then discovered in a subterranean world. Reynolds’ compositions are, appropriately enough, a mixture of starkly rendered monochrome and more subtly coloured music. A World Without Color begins in commanding style with brutally methodical percussion and braying saxophone. The music then continues without pause into the echoing, gentler sound world of Sesom’s Dream, shaded with marimba and vibes. Betto’s Lament could be mistaken for a Tom Waits instrumental, made up of twanging guitar, plangent strings, heartbeat percussion and kalimba. Elsewhere, The Darkness Babies is pleasingly strident, drums are beaten mercilessly and Paul Klemperer’s saxophone rages and snorts into darkness. The Golden Arm Trio belies its name by comprising 17 musicians, a little under half of which are string players. Their presence, although integral, mostly comes second place to the prominent rhythm section. When heard on their own, halfway through Sesom And His Disciples, they emphasise an anxious, forbidding strain to the proceedings.
A Ballet Austin Production in Association with Arthouse / Story and Visual Concept by Trenton Doyle Hancock • Choreography by Stephen Mills / Premiered April, 2008 at AustinVentures Studio Theatre, Austin, Texas