Student Blog: CoLab 2024 brings dancers and musicians together

March 21, 2024

Rhaine Marquardt(BFA '26) and fellow BFA students in London for CoLab 2024 | Photo by Jackie Kopcsak

Rhaine Marquardt recounts her experience partaking in the USC Kaufman x Trinity Laban Artist Collaboration: CoLab 2024 in London, UK. 

I had not known such a rich form of collaboration before CoLab 2024. For this process, I had the pleasure of collaborating with fellow peer and choreographer Sadie Grace Shelburne, in addition to dance and music students from Trinity Laban. Throughout the choreographic process, our mission was to blur the boundaries between dancer and musician. We were actively exploring the ways in which the two mediums of art can exist beyond the restraints of their traditional roles, informing a process that thrived on the synergy of dance and music. The five day creation process culminated in the performance of an original choreographic work.

Beginning our CoLab Creation

On day one, we began engaging in cross-disciplinary improvisational exercises that encouraged the role reversal of dancers and musicians. The exercises required dancers to respond directly to the spontaneous sounds of the instruments being played by the musicians. In some cases, the dancers would even play the instruments themselves. The musicians would in turn physicalize their practice by moving about the space and responding to the dancers movement. In doing so, we discovered a world of compositional possibility. This improvisational exercise became the foundation for which we would build our piece. Through rich and meaningful collaboration, we were actively challenging the limitations of each art form. We asked ourselves: How can music and dance truly become one?

Rhaine Marquardt (BFA ’26) and fellow BFA students in London for CoLab 2024 | Photo by Jackie Kopcsak

Breaking Choreographic Boundaries

Prior to this experience, I viewed dance and music as two separate artistic identities. I believed that they complimented each other, but were not necessarily destined for total interconnectedness. However, the intertwinement of dance and music throughout this process challenged the limits of what I thought I knew. It pushed my creative capacity beyond my choreographic comfort and familiarity. Ultimately, it allowed me to consider the physicality of musicians and potential for dancers to be involved in musical composition.

When formulating the final work, I was heavily inspired by the investigation of various creative research prompts including the relationship between a dancer and the piano, how the mallet of a drum can become a physical motif, or how a viola can be played whilst moving amongst dancers. These ideas encouraged me to approach my choreography from a place of raw and collaborative experimentation, yielding more raw and strikingly unique results than I could have ever imagined.  

Gratitude for CoLab 2024

CoLab 2024 was nothing short of an unforgettable experience. I cannot begin to describe how much it has impacted me personally, artistically, and choreographically. After all, it is not everyday that you are presented with an opportunity to be in process with such talented and open-minded artists. Not only did this opportunity allow me to gain experience with cross-disciplinary collaboration, but has inspired me explore a realm of composition where dance and music become one.

Embarking on this artistic journey in a city as beautiful and artfully saturated as London allowed me to form meaningful, lasting, connections with the international artists of my generation. I am eternally grateful for the experiences I have gained and the people I have connected with as a result of this collaborative journey. CoLab 2024 has left my heart incredibly full and my mind incredibly inspired.

By Rhaine Marquardt (BFA ’26)