SRU’s Hasenpflug keeps dancers moving


Andrew Hasenpflug performance

Andrew Hasenpflug, a Slippery Rock University dance musician, recently arranged for
internationally known Butoh dancer, Du Yufang, to teach and perform at SRU.

March 17, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Rhythm, indispensable in dance, is also a basic element of music. When the dancer and the music "click," when there is understanding, harmony and co-ordination between the dancer and the accompanying musician artist there is magic in the performance. No one knows that better than Andrew Hasenpflug, Slippery Rock University dance department staff musician.

"Andy is a huge inspiration to faculty and students alike. His live music brings our dancing to life," said Jennifer Keller, SRU professor of dance. "He is a genius composer, finding ways to harmonize his music with our movement."

"He also challenges us - we have to work to match his drive and energy, and he introduces new sound textures that make us explore different dynamic ranges," she said. "He plays a wide variety of instruments, uses his voice both in prose and melody, and incorporates all kinds of recording, looping and layering of sounds. It is a joy to teach classes with his accompaniment and creativity."

Hasenpflug, who joined SRU in 2006, said he has been accompanying and composing for dance since 1989 and has written more than 300 compositions. Hasenpflug, who considers himself a percussionist, also plays keyboard, guitar and sings. He worked as a professional musician before joining SRU.

His presence in the dance program provides for greater flexibility of sound accompaniment, Keller said. A dance professor teaching ballet needs different music than a professor teaching contemporary. Hasenpflug said professors often change the pace of a dance during class, which requires him to offer slower or faster music in a different "time." A CD doesn't offer the same improvisation possibility.

"I am contributing to student pedagogy and am composing to maximize students' education," he said.

Hasenpflug said his role within dance has expanded to include teaching a course on music in dance. He plays for classes, many performances and provides audio engineering.

"I love working here," he said. "I have a job description on paper, and I do all that stuff, but I feel like our department really transcends that. Everyone is allowed to be themselves and it makes the department a cut above because we are able to contribute as individuals."

His latest contribution to dance education occurred when he arranged a two-week residency by Butoh dance artist Du Yufang. She taught classes, exposing students to non-western dance, and performed with students during the premiere of her new Butoh dance, "Moon Rabbit."

Hasenpflug wrote and performed music for her solo and to accentuate other sections of "Moon Rabbit." He said it was a fruitful collaboration because Yufang allowed him to compose in his "genuine, artistic voice."

Butoh is a form of dance theatre that originated in Japan in the 1960's. Typically the dancers wear white body paint, move very slowly and include both playful and grotesque imagery.

Hasenpflug went above and beyond by bringing Yufang to campus, Keller said.

"It's amazing that our students got exposure to her teaching and the experience of Butoh," Keller said. "We want our students to be extremely versatile, and this residency provided a very diverse, non-western experience of training and performance."

Following the SRU premiere of "Moon Rabbit," Hasenpflug and Yufang gave performances at the McColl Center in Charlotte, North Carolina where they performed a 40-minute, original work called "Frog, Rabbit, Fox." Hasenpflug composed and performed all the music.

Keller said Hasenpflug has great influence within the department. He also directs SRU's annual 60 x 60 concert during which there are 60 dance performances within 60 minutes.

Hasenpflug also serves as music director at the American Dance Festival in Durham and has ties to Charlotte, North Carolina. He and Eric Mullis, co-founder of Charlotte's Triptych Collective, have collaborated on several pieces.

Hasenpflug earned a bachelor's of fine arts degree from the State University of New York at Purchase and a master's degree in music from The University of Cincinnati.

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