dance music

One interesting aspect of working in a national ballet camp is the parade of techniques and personalities of the teachers. The Cecchetti camp represents a certain system of pedagogy in the world of ballet so there is a lot of consistency of language and ideas in the teaching.  But some teachers disarm with humor (which can disguise some very sharp critical thought), some teach with silence, some with affection, all with their bodies.

I find it challenging and engaging to adapt to each teacher’s style as best I can.

Twice this past week different teachers questioned my improvised introduction (usually referred to by dancers as the “preparation”). One suggested that I play the last half of the phrase I intended to play (something that is complicated by the fact that I am improvising and often haven’t thought that far into the phrase).  When she said this, I was at loss and immediately repeated the exact preparation I had just played. She seemed satisfied that I had corrected the problem.

This occurred with another teacher. She stopped my introduction and described what she wanted. I repeated it exactly. She was happy.

Ironic, n’est pas?

I suppose it’s possible they simply overlooked my inability to do what they asked and went on.

More likely it’s a confusion of dance language and music language, something I run into constantly working with dancers. In some instances (like these I’ve been talking about), there is a subtlety the teachers are looking for, a nuance, that is not easily expressed in mundane musical language. So I must listen beyond the words to the meaning.

In other cases, words that I think of as specifically music terms (Adagio, Allegro, etc.) take on a specificity in the ballet context. They describe not only tempo but the character and dance technique of the combination.

Dance teachers are very interesting in that most times their bodies are past their prime (for dancing ballet anyway). So they have had to come to grips with being very good at something and then changing to being good at teaching it, but no longer doing it to their satisfaction.

All of this stuff is part of what engages me in this work.

I also love to improvise. My improvisations in this context tend toward the rhythmic. I also try very hard to make it pretty clear where the phrases are.

The word, “music,” takes on a larger meaning to dancers. It can refer to the poetry of movement when they are admonished to put the music in the movement.

I like to think that if I am improvising well there is some charm or beauty in the improv that helps dancers do this if they are listening and dancing in that way.


Who’s Very Important? –

Some great quotes in this editorial.

“… leading Republicans consider Mr. Romney’s apparent use of multimillion-dollar offshore accounts to dodge federal taxes not just acceptable but praiseworthy: “It’s really American to avoid paying taxes, legally,” declared Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina.


Norman Sas, 87, Inventor of Electric Football –

Last night over drinks, my brother and I explained to our wives what the heck electric football was.


Arnold Schwarzenegger Gears Up for Act 2 as an Action Hero –

What can I say? I’ll probably see his new movie. Sheesh.


Trial of Soccer Star Terry Revolves Around Foul Language –

This is a fun read as the author and the court dance around the actual words involved.


Maria Cole, Jazz Singer and Wife of Nat, Dies at 89 –


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