Keith Terry is a percussionist/rhythm-dancer/educator whose artistic vision has straddled the line between music and dance for more than four decades. As a soloist he has appeared in such settings as Lincoln Center, Bumbershoot, NPR’s All Things Considered, PRI's The World, the Vienna International Dance Festival, and the Paradiso van Slag World ...
Body Musician Keith Terry will be the first to tell you: Collaborations across cultures can’t happen in a week or month, without feeling like a mere play of surfaces, like something slapdash, and hoc. They demand time. It takes years, decades for collaborators to find their way through the thicket of cultural details, to make new meaning together. Elder artists have the distinct advantage, especially those who keep returning to that touchstone of imagination, who keep building relationships. Who circle back in long creative cycles.
Extended cycles have defined Terry’s diverse, looping engagement with how movement, music, and rhythm entwine across cultures. His own career has circled back repeatedly, always with fresh perspective and deeper understanding, in ever-richer collaboration and dialog with artists from elsewhere.
From his start in jazz drumming and later in tap, Texas-born, Bay Area-based Terry has embraced the rhythms of Bali, Brazil, West Africa, and southern Europe, bringing together a growing community of like-minded artists from across the globe who dance music and make gesture sonic. He’s created his own style, Body Music, which he has taught, performed at major festivals and venues around the globe, and refined over decades, most frequently as a solo performer. His achievements won him a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008, the first time an artist of his kind was chosen as a fellow.
Yet it is Terry’s profound and long-lasting collaborative, cross-cultural efforts with co-creators from Bali to Brazil, the great loops in his art that point to his uniqueness as an artist. Terry first heard the gamelan at a rehearsal in Berkeley, CA. He was transported. The gongs, punctuating long unfurling rhythmic cycles, had a powerful physical presence he had never felt when simply listening to the music on LP. “The big gongs move air, in a way you can’t capture on a recording,” he recalls. “It was a total body experience.”
That first live experience of gamelan has repeated, amplified, for forty years. The music led Terry to kecak, a rhythmic chant and movement-based form that evolved in Bali’s village communities. He connected with I Wayan Dibia, a revered practitioner of kecak who created large-scale pieces for the stage based on the tradition. “It was a natural combination for both of us. The rhythms were compatible, as well as the movement. Kecak is performed in concentric circles, sometimes standing, mostly sitting. There are lots of hand and finger gestures, lots of choreography and synchronized group movement, even though kecak doesn’t move in space. I was drawn to that, how dynamic kecak is, both sonically and visually. I saw it as a part of Body Music.”
Flash forward forty years. After decades of work with Indonesian artists, Terry organized an edition of the International Body Music Festival—a moveable feast celebrating humanity’s oldest instrument that Terry founded in 2008. He and his long-time collaborator and friend I Wayan Dibia were putting together a huge ensemble to perform a variation on a traditional Balinese dance/music form called kecak.
In one village, Terry was asked to teach a few short phrases of movement to the assembled performers. He did so, but nothing seemed to click with the group. Then Terry let go, setting aside explicit instruction and considering how the village performers might best relate to the material. He focused on his intention, on the phrase itself. The performers began to synch up.
As they did, something extraordinary occurred. “I don’t know exactly what happened, but it was like lightning bolts, fire, sparks. Everyone was smiling, and many later told me they experienced the same thing,” reflects Terry. “The kecak locked, and it moved me. I felt deeply how connected I was to these people in this moment. “The intensity was like nothing before. The cycle had ended, booming like a gong.
It took decades to bring the work to fruition. “In effect, we worked for ten years, from 1980 to 1990, before we brought all the pieces and elements together. And that set of projects defined the scale of a great deal of my future work: I started doing big international collaborations in Bali and began bringing international artists to the States from Bali,” recounts Terry, sometimes uniting as many as a 100 performers. “Having the International Body Music Festival in Bali in this year brought this huge loop back around. This summer, when we had nearly a hundred performers from outside of Bali come to work together, I knew that this is a long cycle that has completed, a 35-year cycle.”
There are other cycles at play for an artist with decades of work behind him. Terry comes to collaborations with a different spirit now, happy to share his knowledge but striving to make space for new, unexpected voices. “I keep reminding myself that it’s natural for a younger artist to strive to take over,” Terry notes. “I want to encourage that because that’s how it works. But it’s also hard for me to let go. It’s a constant reminder I have to give myself. At some point, you need to step back and let things unfold.”
When your creative medium is your body, age affects you. Terry has traded youth’s flashy athleticism for effortless expressiveness—though he remains a remarkably dynamic performer and continues to tour. (He will be bringing his work with Body Musicians from Spain, France, Cuba, Greece, and the US to the 2016 IBMF in Paris, before coming to the States in 2017.)
“I feel my age at times. But I’ve been blessed with energy and I am a high-energy person. I’m not as athletic as I was, but there’s a distilling of the essence of the music, of the movement. I do less, but I have far more momentum, more behind what I do. I am in the tracks of the cart on the muddy road that was laid down over decades, if not centuries. I feel like I’m in those tracks now, enjoying them. I feel what came before.”
International Body Music Festival Mini-Fest: Featuring MOLODI - Stepping and more from Las Vegas! Open-Mic, Workshops, and in Concert with other IBMF artists TBA
More info TBA by the end of the week.
Crosspulse presents the 7th International Body Music Festival (IBMF) in Bali, Indonesia, 3-12 July, 2015, co-directed by Keith Terry (IBMF founder) and I Wayan Dibia, with Executive Director Evie Ladin, and local producer Rucina Ballinger. IBMF will feature Balinese artists, plus international Body Music artists from the US, Canada, Brazil, Colombia, and Spain -- in concerts, workshops, cross-cultural collaborations, jam sessions, an open mic, and more. The IBMF offers a unique immersion opportunity for the international participants to experience Balinese culture. The International Body Music Festival is co-sponsored by the Gianyar Regional Government and GEOKS.
Body Music - clapping, snapping, stepping and vocalizing - is an amalgam of composition and choreography, music you can see, dance you can hear. Ancient forms of embodied knowledge, the various Body Musics of the world contain kinesthetic “libraries” of memories and cultural heritage. The International Body Music Festival is both a culmination of Crosspulse’s 30 years developing Body Music as a communicative performance art and educational model; and a jumping off place for a powerful forum of cross-cultural rhythmic performance and community development.
IBMF Bali will explore a variety of styles of KECAK, as the international artists share their traditional and contemporary styles of Body Music with local Kecak groups in five villages in the regency of Gianyar: Singapadu, Pengosekan, Bona, Bedulu and Tegallalang. Workshops and performances in each village are open to the public. The IBMF opening concert will be at the Bali Arts Festival in Denpasar on 3 July, 2015 and festivities will culminate in a 400 person COLLOSAL KECAK on 12 July, 2015 at the Open Stage in Gianyar town – specially commissioned by IBMF and directed by I Wayan Dibia. Cultural excursions will provide the international participants with additional opportunities to see the roots of Balinese culture.
The International Body Music Festival has become the meeting ground for the various styles of global Body Music. Since 2008, the IBMF has traveled the world, from Brazil to Turkey and Italy, though every other year it returns to its home base of San Francisco.
The Festival is a moving hub for performers who engage with humanity’s first instrument: the body itself. The shushing of palms, the snapping of fingers, the stomping of feet, and the seemingly infinite potential of the throat and mouth have inspired people worldwide to create moving music, audible dance. Tap, stepping, hambone, flamenco, beatbox, every style that forefronts the sounds of bodies in motion. It’s the oldest music on the planet, and it’s brand new.
A featured performance throughout the 7th IBMF Bali will be Body Tjak, an on-going intercultural collaboration between Indonesians and North and South Americans that began in 1990. This current collaboration, which premiered at the 6th IBMF San Francisco, features members of Bali’s Cudamani, USA’s Corposonic, and Brazil’s Barbatuques, and will be the final installment of this special 25-year collaboration: the final gong in a very long rhythmic cycle.
The Body Tjak Project was founded in 1985 by Keith Terry and I Wayan Dibia, and resulted in their first full evening-length collaboration, performed in Bali, Java, and the US in 1990. Body Tjak has always included a mash up of Terry’s style of Body Music and Balinese Kecak, artistic ingredients that have borrowed by other Indonesian artists to create other “Body Tjak kreasi baru” (new creations).
Keith Terry states “I’ve been collaborating with Balinese artists for more than three decades, and have always been particularly drawn to their Body Music style, Kecak. The interlocking vocal patterns, coupled with synchronized movement, story, humor, plus the incorporation of new ideas, specifically my own Body Music style, into the genre, has been a thrilling, ongoing intercultural collaboration. The community celebrates the music and dance coming solely from the instrument we all share. It transcends cultural boundaries and provides in-roads to cross-cultural experience.”
This experience goes two ways. Both the Kecak troupes and the international artists will have the opportunity to work with each other in a rare artistic exchange like no other.
Confirmed teachers/performers (more announced weekly on our website):
A Mano Limpia (SPAIN)
Theatre A Tempo (CANADA)
Tupac Mantilla (COLOMBIA)
Yolanda Gonzalez Sobrado (SPAIN)
Pedro Consorte (BRAZIL)
I Wayan Dibia (BALI)
Sanggar Paripurna (BALI)
KECAK Bedulu (BALI)
KECAK Singapadu (BALI)
Workshops by the international artists will be held at the Suly Resort and Spa in Peliatan, Ubud from July 3-10, 2015 in the mornings. Each workshop costs Rp 50,000 for KTP holders and Rp 150,000 for others. Performances in six villages (see www.internationalbodymusicfestival.com for details) will showcase both the local Kecak of that village as well as IBMF’s international artists. These performances are free for KTP holders and Rp 150,000 for others. All events are open to the public.
For further information, contact: Rucina Ballinger
081 238 05623