Yesterday, the ballet instructor asked for a tarantella. The class before she had asked if anyone knew what a doppelganger was…. I like these words: tarantella and doppelganger. I wrote a poem or two using the latter word when I was younger.

The language of ballet is different from the language of music. The ballet dictionary defines tarantella this way:

“A fast Italian dance in 6/8 time.”

The music dictionary defines it this way:

“A Neapolitan dance in rapid 6/8 meter, probably named for Taranto in southern Italy, or, according to popular legend, for the tarantula spider whose poisonous bite the dance was believed to cure. In the mid-19th century it was frequently composed (Chopin, Liszt, S. Heller, Auber, Weber, Thalberg)  in the style of a brilliant perpetual mobile. See M. Schneider, “La Danza de espadas y la tarantela”

Neither definition is much help in attempting to improvise one that would suit the needs of a ballet instructor.

I had mistakenly received the impression that the theme for the Alfred Hitchcock TV show was a tarantella. I think this was from quickly glancing at a list of them on Wikipedia. Ah, the dangers of taking in information too quickly.

What did help (as usual) was to watch the instructor teach the character dance to the class. “Imagine you have a tambourine…. move like this…..” She alluded to spiders several times as she outlined the routine.  She even incorporated body slaps. When 15 or so ballerinas slap their body there is a sound. When teachers put sound in the dance I often treat it as a rest which enhances the unspoken dialogue between the dancers and the music I am improvising.

This worked okay, until about the third time through this vigorous routine, the dancers began to be a tiny bit late with their slaps.  Unsurprisingly, the teacher told me not to slow down, so I quit leaving the beats on the slaps up the class.

This was the last class on the last day before spring break. I think it was wise of her to end class with this dance. It kept the students attention right until she dismissed them. Smart teacher.


Robert Reich (The Difference Between Private and Public Morality)

Good article on this topic.


Paul Taylor Dance Company at David H. Koch Theater – NYTimes.com

Satisfying to see the music critic bemoaning lack of live music early in this review. My daughter, Elizabeth, attended this performance.


My Statement Regarding Greg Smith’s Goldman Resignation | Truthout

There seems to be quite a bit of reaction to Greg Smith’s article in the NYT. I still think the original article rings true. But I am critical of institutions like businesses, universities and churches.


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