The role that music provides for dance is functional, yet endowed with
Fundamentally music must inspire the body to move, which means that it must be
vital in its
offering, multifaceted or even seductive in its message, and convincing in its
interpretation. It is
of the same chemistry that constitutes the body and mind, and must act in
response to that.
Luminous Music programmes that developed from 1996 to present day, benefited
extensive time working in contemporary dance environments. As a soloist for
dance training I
logged-in countless hours of studio time that enabled me to explore and work out
on a large variety of very interesting instruments. Simultaneously I was able to
for live audiences of appreciative dancers. These times of exploration went
directly into music
composition, and in turn led to commissions and further performance.
That was just the beginning of the benefits we found working in dance
communities. Beyond the
difficult challenge of physical training, here was a world of supra-physical
and creativity, the possibility of designing far reaching ideas within a
fundamental art form.
Jhalib Millar - London dance percussionist:
"He is great! In hand drumming, Keliehor must only bow his head to himself & the maker cos he is a master, make
no mistake. I haven't heard a sound like his in a long time. Other accompanists
that I've heard on Djembe etc, are
nothing in comparison because there is no magic. As soon as I heard his music
there was magic & I knew this was
someone gooooooood. Please do more, it's raw, it's vibrant, it's sexy and it's
the basis of life."
Julyen Hamilton, musician and dancer:
"I must say that the one thing that nourished me extraordinarily was Jon
classes. They gave me a system, and I can penetrate any music with that. He gave
fearlessness towards music. it really appealed to me. It was numeric, it was
and you could get into where your heart was moving."
Keliehor started with London Contemporary Dance Theatre in 1971 and has
continued to work with dancers and dance trainers
internationally and across the UK and at a number of colleges, companies and
studios both in London, Caracas, Seattle,
Glasgow and Edinburgh. He has worked with organisations/companies including
London Contemporary Dance School and
Theatre, Danza Hoy, Mark Morris Company, Cornish College of the Arts, Scottish
Ballet, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland,
Dance House, Scottish Youth Dance, Scottish Dance Theatre and Dance Base.
His music personal and intuitive, diverse and creative. Numerous music
opportunities and commissions have resulted from
collaborations with dance artists including Robert Cohan, Robert North, Jane
Dudley, Kazuko Hirabayashi, Dick Kuch, Dick
Gain, Louis Falco, Carolyn Carlson, Naomi Lapezon, Juliet Fisher, Bill Louther,
Namron, Darshan Singh Bhuller, Inge Lonnroth,
Tara Rajkumar, Jacque Broquet, Adriana and Luz Urdaneta, Patricia Hon, Wade
Madsen, Joanna Mendl Shaw, Rosina Bonsu,
Ruth Mills, Maxine Railton, Andy Howitt, Dianna Loosemore, Paul Liburd, Steinvor
Palsson, Alan Greig and many others.
With a focus on creative principles, the classes were a magnet for imaginative
individual discovery. It was a goal beyond learning how to identify the right
music . . . it was a
choice towards creativity, viewing the edges of the unknown, and how to work
Participants on the Rhythm Course brought more insight than one could have
allowing students at London Contemporary Dance the opportunity to explore
perhaps the single
most vital element in music and dance, a door opened to a vast and often hidden
information containing core creative codes. I now hope that I can pay tribute to
the knowledge we
gained. My hope is that the book I am writing from these experiences, the
details and discoveries
about rhythm and its impact in creative domains, will eventually find a
Many movement instructors prefer live music accompaniment for dance
training sessions. The standard arrangement for a dance class provides
live music from pianists, or drummers, or percussionists. These are fully
robust instruments capable of creating dynamic, wide-frequency music.
Funded dance programmes, are capable of bringing music input from
four primary areas that might include accompanists, performers,
composers, music course instructors. All perform vital roles. However
some economic constraints force smaller dance organisations to use
these services less frequently, where for example, music in dance
classes becomes relegated to playlists on electronic devices.
Musicians working in dance always benefit, as do dancers themselves
The dance-drumming of JON KELIEHOR has brought a refreshing and dynamic energy
contemporary dance and dance training. His personal approach to drumming and
has influenced musicians and dancers. It has helped shape the way that
percussion is employed in
contemporary dance and modern ballet, and has opened a door to a renewed
interest in these
Music and dance belong to one another. Throughout history traditional dance,
social dance, classical and
many other dance forms have arisen from the deep well springs of most cultures.
At all times these
expressive art-forms have been deeply connected to music and rhythm. Together
they reveal huge
territories of co-creative expression and deserve a prominent place amongst the
great art forms of this
country. While some of the barriers to expansion in the arts are financial, it
should be remembered that
live partnerships in dance and music create an even more unique and challenging
creativity to flourish.
COMPOSER / CHOREOGRAPHER
Today there are educational initiatives that aim to bring
artists more into dialogue with one another, to provide
an understanding of the shared creative elements
within art forms.
I am certain of the need not only to involve live music
in dance training, but the benefit in bringing composers
and choreographers to work together. Both disciplines
thrive on new relationships, discovering ground for
creative expression that can allow a deeper study of
the conceptual intelligence within dance and music arts.
The diverse nature of music has created ranges of open-ended environments that
in all directions, offering surprises and bridges between our contemporary world
and some distant,
perhaps ancient place that our bodies continually try to locate and accomodate.
This is the story of one composer:
In practice, instruments themselves became my teachers. Through their unusual
ranges of musical
tone and sonority, they provided a new kind of dynamic to emerge, allowing an
unforseen way to
express spatial content in my music. I felt there was permission to explore
expanded ranges of
tonal colour in both experimental and traditional ways. Today I realise how
fortunate I was to have
been let in on some of the secrets of writing music for dancers. In these
contemporary dance and
modern ballet environments, I began to realise that my humble percussion
somehow timeless, sound treasures. They provided keys allowing access to a world
of sounds and
textures that so many older cultures throughout history had also thought
The music for Robert Cohan’s CLASS, Darshan Singh Bhuller’s BEYOND THE LAW, and Robert
North’s TROY GAME are models of traditional world percussion instruments in contemporary
settings. By exploring other combinations of instrumentation, further
developments occurred in the
recordings EAST MEETS WEST and CELESTIAL NILE, works for companies such as DanzaHoy in
Venezuela. Combining these approaches has revealed new levels of sound shaping
textures within the music on THE BEGINNING OF TIME.
Offered an opportunity to tutor music, I was asked to
design a dance-music course to my specification, looking at
the question: “What would a dancer want to know about
Advanced Rhythm and Music Studies for Dancers became
the icing on the cake, and quite possibly the cake itself.
The course ran for eight years until the general curriculum
took a different direction as things do.
Contemporary Dance Musicians
History: Luminous Music educational programmes