About this work: Program notes:
Obsessional suicide thoughts peak at a scene of fatal temptation with images of the suicide of Socrates.
A short piano introduction marked Largo, dark and haunting, sets the scene for the singer's mysterious, secret place where death is close and eerily tempting. Visions of the paralyzing suicide by Socrates are part of the poetics of word and music. The dancer is the singer or speaker of the poem. With a youthful bravado she ponders the spiritual and ntellectual conflicts and questions when she finds that her pastoral retreat could also be the setting for death by suicide. This process is also a metaphor for life within the poem.
Two refrains form the questions of her dilemma. The first query concerns the mystery of dying and death. The second is on the joy of life spiced by the awareness of death. The two refrains are recitative, urgent and faster paced moving to the soprano's lower voice.
Throughout, the soprano voice is paramount, while the piano provides a diffuse and dissonant musical landscape. The lyrics from the poem:
I know a place where wild Hemlock grows
Lush as parsley, edible to the eye,
It is a secret place to be
And wonder why Socrates
Chose sour tea.
Did he discuss the taste or just relate
The growing weight within his legs?
The curly Hemlock bends and bows,
Is a caress between my toes
As I crush its lethal fare
Beneath my steps
In summer air.
Shall I construe my danger dance
As joy within my weightless legs?
I know a field where the Hemlock knows
Abundancy, but there my thoughts
Are cautious counterfeits,
There I may dance, but fingers never must
Touch Hemlock lips.
Danger Dance taken from the poetry collection "Eight Frames Eight." Copyright 2002, by
Version: soprano and piano
Year composed: 1985
Ensemble type: Voice, Solo or With Chamber or Jazz Ensemble:Solo Voice with Keyboard
Instrumentation: 1 Piano, 1 Soprano
Instrumentation notes: Audience is given copies of the poem in broadside form conceptualizing the meanings of poetry with composition.