Dance Scores

Attic Smells

Documentary of the Krannert Center Performance


Choreography Sara Hook

Music: John Toenjes

Dancers: Dancers of the UIUC Department of Dance

Musicians: John Toenjes, harpsichord and conductor, Robin Kearton, violin, Brad Thompson, bassoon, Russel Knox, double bass, David Masterson, countertenor


  • UIUC Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, January 2003.
  • Sweat Series at Debaun Auditorium, Hoboken, NJ, March 2003

Attic Smells is in five movements: Prelude, Aria, Competition, Concerto, and Minuet. It is scored for countertenor, violin, bassoon, double bass, and harpsichord. The compositional style is neo-baroque. The German lyric in the "Aria" was written by John Toenjes, and roughly translates to "Try, breathe, smell. It reeks of the darkness of men." The dance was loosely about the ghosts of a group of regretful castrati. This is the live recording from the Krannert Center performance.

Mangle on the Fly

Mangle on the Fly is a work that explores the notion of the music and the dance being so intertwined that one literally cannot exist without the other. The structure of the music depends on what the dancers are dancing, and the structure of the choreography depends upon what the musicians are playing.

Mangle on the Fly is a changeable, cooperative dance that is different every night. The dance and music both are constructed on a series of loops, during or over which short “one-shot hits” and more lengthy improvisations are danced or played. The order and length of the loops is determined by the flow of the performance, and the improvisations come in response to each other’s moment-by-moment interpretations.

Because of the interactive nature of this dance, the dancers and musicians worked very closely in rehearsal to create the piece, and they need to be closely communicating during the performance.

The music is for amplified viola and keyboard played through a series of looping devices and effects, either dedicated hardware units or software in a laptop computer. The loops are recorded on the fly and they are manipulated and switched on and off as the course of the dance unfolds. The musicians also provide a bit of acoustic percussion with their feet on amplified boxes.


Choreography Linda Lehovec,

Music John Toenjes

Dancers Linda Lehovec, Heather Klopchen

Musicians John Toenjes, keyboard and laptop computer, Robin Kearton, viola


Mangle on the Fly illustrates the evolution of my ideas for music and dance relationships in an interactive context. The (rather small) movie of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts performance can be seen/heard by clicking on the image below:

E's of Water

The Sea-Tique is one of the instruments designed and played by John Toenjes in the Ease of Water installation. This song was the sound score for one of the dances in this multimedia installation, which consisted of 11 different interactive dance installations occurring at the same time in the massive Kenilworth building. The audience walked through the installations, viewing them in any order they desired.

The Sea-Tique is made of two PVC tubes with embedded microphones in a fish tank, running through the Max/MSP computer program, producing echo and feedback effects.

E's of Water is a dance by Luc Vanier choreographed for students at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UM-W) of material from the interactive dance installation commissioned for the opening of the UM-W Kenilworth Performing Arts Building, June 2007. It is composed in a minimalist style for two pianos. Overdubbed score performed by John Toenjes.


108 was commissioned by choreographer Todd Williams, premiered at the 92nd Street Y/Harkness Dance Festival, at The Ailey Citigroup Theater Joan Weill Center for Dance, New York. It was made by live mixing looping original recorded samples of gongs, toy piano, and other found objects in the Ableton Live computer program while the dance was being performed.

Les Femmes

This is the second track of a screen dance DVD Les Femmes by Cynthia Doyle. It is an atmospheric, layered track with solo piano and other electronic and sample textures.


Madrenias is the score for a "neuvo Flamenco" dance by choreographer Fred Darsow. Built on a complicated rhythmic base, it is scored for violin, harpsichord, and conga drum. It was performed at Stephens College, Columbia, MO; April 2001, and at the 92nd St. Y, New York, June 2001. Harpsichord played (and incidentally, also built) by John Toenjes.

Lyn's Nifty Rhythm

Lyn's Nifty Rhythm is part of the dance "Pieces of the Puzzle" commissioned by choreographer Lyn Elam at the University Texas-Austin in 1998. It was made in an A-B-A form on a complicated rhythmic pattern given to John by her. Can you hear what it is? (The answer: 2 3 2 2 2 3 3 3 1 2 2 3 3 3) Fred Hemke saxophone, John Toenjes all other instruments.

The Jumblies (highlights)

This setting of the poem "The Jumblies" by Edward Lear was commissioned by choreographer Halcyon Perlman for her children's ballet company in 1993. It is composed for tenor, two sopranos, and piano. This track is an excerpt of a live recording from May of 1993 (John Toenjes on piano).