Ask You Dance Me


I have a fascination with dance music. Its intention is so innocent: it only wants to make us dance. Yet there’s something sinister about the power of such simple music to carry us away. It must be strong stuff, infernal even: I think of Mozart (Don Giovanni, Act One Finale), of Stravinsky (Histoire du Soldat), of Funkadelic (Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow).

The Asko Ensemble of Amsterdam asked for this piece, so I played with their name: Ask You, Ask Me, Me Ask You Dance, Ask You Dance Me… A few dozen of these playful scribbles make up a frame on which the first movement hangs. The second and third movements are based on popular songs, though they are filtered through other processes and music. The results are hardly danceable, being more a reflection on dance music.

Ask You Dance Me was commissioned by The Asko Ensemble with the assistance of The Canada Council for the Arts.