We all know that you can’t put baby in a corner, but we should have also learned that you can’t put Ben Sollee in a box! This Kentucky born indie-folk musician-activist-cyclist-cellist (yeah, that’s a mouth full!) has expanded his repertoire to include scoring music for the Louisville Ballet and the North Carolina Dance Theatre.
Sollee is best known for his genre-bending work as a cellist. But not just any cellist –he is a cellist who surprises first time listeners when his heart felt lyrics with soulful undertones flow out of his mouth. We have also come to know him for his Ditch The Van tour, where he and his crew travel from venue to venue by bicycle, lugging their equipment behind them.
But this time, he is going back to something that took hold of him in high school – ballet. He took lessons and fell in love with the powerful combination of movement and music. He used that passion to score an original piece, Sansei, for the Louisville Ballet’s 60th Anniversary celebration that is happening April 13-14, 2012. Sollee found inspiration from thematic and emotional Japanese theater as well as the movement of old-time fiddling to score this narrative about the generation cycle of the women in a Japanese family. Sollee uses a quintet of percussion, woodwind and strings to convey his musical message.
“Turns out young male dancers are hard to come by in Kentucky,” laughs Sollee. “With my gymnastics background and enthusiasm for the stage, I found myself filling those shoes often. I learned the language of classical dance and understand how the music and movement interact. So, as a composer I find myself asking, "how will this feel for the dancer?"”
Stay tuned for the next episode of 'what is Ben up to now?'.....
(The North Carolina Dance Theatre will perform Dangerous Liaisons in Charlotte April 26-28.)
Photo courtesy of Ben Sollee