Behind the Scenes with BMD: Interview with Wolfgang Seirel

Bowen McCauley Dance examines the collaboration between composer/visual artist Wolfgang Seierl and Lucy Bowen McCauley in Afoot in Vienna

The Wolgang Seierl Project: Afoot in Vienna
November 17, 2012
8:00 p.m.
Learn more

Tell us a little about yourself and your work.

I was born in Vienna in 1955.  I am equally active as an artist, musician, and composer. As a visual artist, I’ve had public collections and shows in Austria, Germany, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Switzerland, Hungary, Turkey, Japan and the US. As a composer, my catalogue includes orchestral, choral and chamber music; solos; electronic music; sound installations and space-motion-and theatre-related works. I’ve performed all over the world.

How did you first get to know Lucy and her work?

In the summer of 2010, I was composer/artist-in-residence in collaboration with the Wintergreen Summer Music Festival. During the residency and festival, Lucy and her dancers created her choreography of my composition “Die Wolke und die Uhr” (Time and Clouds). I saw BMD’s whole program at Wintergreen, which was amazing. I liked how Lucy approached my work, her sensibility for the music, for sound, and for the abstract story (a poem by Austrian poet Ferdinand Schmatz).

What is it like working with Lucy?

Lucy is a wonderful artist, very open, inspiring and inspired. I think, before we met, we were both a little bit afraid and at least curious about the upcoming things that we had to do together. My first impression was seeing her rehearsing with her dancers, and I was impressed by her clarity in the artistic process. Our collaboration was based on friendship, confidence, inspiration and a very inspiring and continuous dialogue.

What was the inspiration for “Afoot?”

The first idea was to break with the traditional way one creates music and dance. In many cases the music is composed first, and then the dance is choreographed. I said “Let’s do it like ping-pong, but you are starting with choreography sketches.”

The other idea was that different floors/grounds would trigger different movements. When Lucy was in Vienna last summer, we looked for different places in the city where the ground would produce different kinds of movement (wooden floors, stone, sand, grass, cobblestone, etc.). We filmed those small choreographic interventions, and the videos were the basis for my work.

There needs to be a high level of trust for a good collaboration. Did you feel this kind of mutual respect with Lucy?

From the first moment I saw her work, I respected Lucy as an artist, but also as a very hard working person as the director of BMD who is responsible for many other things aside from her artistic work. I admire her for her openness and wide range of genres that enter in her work, from classical to rock, from romantic to experimental.

In our collaboration “Afoot” we had a lot of fun; our concept was leading us through interesting places in Vienna, drinking “Radler,” an Austrian beer, between the working phases.

Do you have plans to work together again?

I would like to continue our collaboration because I still feel high potential there. It is exciting, although the big distance makes it difficult. On the other hand I think that the distance (Vienna-Arlington) is something interesting, too.