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Eunwoo Yoo

first performed on January 10, 2020
Glass Box Gallery
performed once in 2020


Santa Barbara


“Harmonic Drops” is a meditative, collaborative movement and music improvisation, guided by a score, in the spirit of Judson Dance Theater. In six mini-acts, the dancer and musician reacted to each other’s cues in an entanglement of harmony and disharmony. Three felt wool balls are dropped by the dancer repeatedly as the musician plays a set of natural harmonics on an acoustic guitar. Sometimes the dancer initiated the drop with movement. Sometimes the musician initiated with sound and the dancer followed. If the performers are attuned to each other, it can be difficult for the audience to guess who initiated the movement.

“Harmonic Drops” is a pun and an exploration of the harmony in falling. At first, the balls fall, then the dancer falls as the musician “catches” her or “topples” her with the sound. The natural harmonics resemble the ethereal sound of waterdrops. In one round of the “drops,” the dancer and musician purposefully did not respond to each other’s call for the “drop.” The harmony was disrupted, signaling that this method of “harmonizing” the relationship has been used up.

The performers then moved on to a different method of communicating. The dancer speaks in her native language of Bulgarian as the musician (who does not speak the language) “translates” to the audience by pouring water in spurts into a bowl. They nod in understanding. The musician plays a Bulgarian duduk as the dancer “translates” by speaking in Bulgarian. They finally understand each other.

As part of the Kairotic Residue performance art festival at the University of California-Santa Barbara, the piece was accompanied by a video feedback loop, projected onto the performers. The mise-en-abyme effect made each dropped bouncing ball disappear into the center of the projected abyss. The performers ended the piece by juggling the balls together, passing them to each other until they juggled so fast they could not keep up, and the balls dispersed. The performers have learned how to harmonize and no longer care whether their actions integrate into an undisturbed whole.

“Harmonic Drops” was a response to the festival theme of “momentous time.” Kairos is a time for action or decision. The performers only have a split second to respond to each other in the score’s game, so they must stay alert, especially when they—and everything—is falling, and time is being swallowed into the abyss.