My challenge over the last five decades has been to synthesize different periods of my life and artistic experience – as dancer, musician, composer, choreographer and poet – creating fugues of my experience to blend into a whole and unique form.
My tap dance choreography/composition has been noted for its use of counter-point, and melodic phrasing, predominantly in the jazz vein; as well as creating anthropomorphic metaphors in my use of animal references … such as “The White Buffalo Suite,” “Cool Bird,” “Flying Turtles,” and “Blue Heron Flies.”
At times I have enjoyed pure musical collaborations and structural formalities, such as the twenty minute work with composer Carmen Moore, who also conducted the dancers and the musicians on stage in “Touch Turn Return” for the American Tap Dance Orchestra at the Joyce Theater. Jennifer Dunning of The New York Times wrote, “Brenda Bufalino is a dancer of Dickensian complexity.”
I enjoy making evening-length thematic works such “American Landscape,” using indigenous nature and animal imagery with my own music, and a capella dance compositions, blending them with the melodies and memories of America by composer Hoagy Carmichael.
The tap opera, “Gertrude’s Nose” was an evening-length work of taps, text and vocals, a call for celebrating our place and connections to the rhythms and poetry of our natural environment.
As a soloist, in the same concert of my one woman shows, I might challenge the program traveling from jazz standards to building fugues of tap rhythms and vocals in my electronic Loop Station, Delay machine.
My deep connection and knowledge of jazz from the blues to swing, to bop, to avant garde, to free improvisation, is my historical musical reference. Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker and Bud Powell have all influenced my rhythms, but it is the compositional brilliance of Charles Mingus, that has informed and deepened my study of musical synthesis, counter-point, improvisation, and complexity of mood, mode, and theme. It is with Charles Mingus that I share the development of jazz beyond period and classification, modern yet ancient, classical yet futuristic, tender and melodic, cacophonus and chaotic.