"See the music, hear the dance." -George Balanchine
In our upcoming performance, Forte, we will be performing with Van Cliburn International Pianist Dr. Drew Mays. We were thrilled to rehearse with him for Swan Lake Act II this past Saturday. Collaborating with other passionate artists is one of the best features of ballet.
Typically, we rehearse with prerecorded music. I have nothing against prerecorded music, there's an element of control there that I like. Pressing play, rewinding, and knowing that the music will sound exactly the same every time can give a sense of comfort. But I would prefer live music any day. Having live music adds another layer that wasn't there before to both the dancers and audience. The energy in the room is different. The collaboration is exciting and at times harder, but I feel more connected to it. And that is the point. For the dancers to become the music. We are a visual representation of what the audience hears.
Another benefit is the ability for the musician to change tempos. Live accompaniment forces the dancer to be more finely in tune with the music. Sometimes the tempo is at odds with how the dancer feels like moving. Whether the music is faster or slower than the dancer wants to move. I am of the mind that a dancer should adjust their tempo to whatever the music dictates. If not, it would be a mess. If the musician is willing to adjust tempo, it can be a very useful tool for a dancer to dance at his or her optimal speed.
The piano, in particular, is especially exciting to dance to because I used to play this instrument. I understand how difficult it is to play and feel a deeper appreciation while dancing with it. I imagine I feel the way an actor does when handed a really good script. In Swan Lake, the music has the story written into every note. It directs the way I should feel at every moment. I especially feel this in the pas de deux. I can't help but feel teary-eyed whenever it is played. It's so beautifully sad! And Dr. Drew Mays plays it brilliantly!
I'm very excited to perform in May! This is sure to be a show you won't want to miss! See you soon!
Tickets are $15-35 at balletarkansas.org/forte.