Music is to dancers as oxygen is to the rest of us; a vital part of existence that we simply can’t do without. It’s the driving force for all dancers and creators of dance. But there’s music and there’s music. I’m thinking more about the type of music that touches us at our very core, elicits a burning, a yearning, a desire to translate what we are hearing into movement.
In short, the music that makes us want to step, sway, shimmy, shake something. Anything.
Because I was trained as a classical ballet dancer, I will always have a soft spot for classical music. Back in the day, Tchaikovsky was my man. The first time I heard the music to Balanchine’s “Serenade” I felt like passing out, it was so beautiful. The ballet is also stunning. ’Serenade” was the first ballet George Balanchine choreographed in America, (in 1934), the beginning point where he began 50 years of reshaping classical ballet. It was the first of many pieces choreographed to his beloved Tchaikovsky. The ballet is set to the composer’s soaring score “Serenade for Strings in C.” Tchaikovsky called the piece—composed at the same time as the 1812 Overture—”his “favorite child,” written, he said from “inner compulsion…from the heart…I am terribly in love with this Serenade.”
See if you don’t agree after this:
Ah, Concerto Barocco. The ballet I love to hate (ready why here). Putting past associations aside and overcoming any Pavlovian tendencies, Bach’s Concerto in D minor for Two Violins is another piece of music I immediately fell head-over-heels with. In a word, gorgeous.
But now for something completely different. Balanchine went on to choreograph to a wide variety of music. The ballet Who Cares?, set to music by George Gershwin, is an excellent example. I had the pleasure of performing this ballet while I was a student at the School of American Ballet and I can still hear the music now… Balanchine chose 17 of Gershwin’s Boradway hits for this ballet, first performed at State Theater in 1970. it was at first performed with without décor but from November 1970 with scenery.
Most of us are busy getting ready for the Thanksgiving holiday. Maybe you’re one of those people braving the rabid masses at Trader Joe’s or you were one of the smart people who planned ahead and shopped before things started getting manic.
Maybe you’re just looking forward to having a few days off and wearing your pajamas more than you ought to.
However you define Thanksgiving it is meant to be a celebratory holiday, where we give thanks for the blessings in our lives and feast with loved ones. Since I can’t provide a feast that you can taste in real life, I thought I would provide a feast of a different sort: a feast of the senses. Dance style, of course.
Because dance is very much a visual art form, a visual feast is the most appropriate place to begin. As a lover of all things tutu, all things creative and all things color, these tasty morsels are a few of my favorites. Feast and enjoy.
Post:Ballet does sexy so very, very well, don’t you think? They are just as tantalizing onstage….
photo by RJ Muna
Garrett + Moulton hired designer Margaret Thatcher to create larger-than-life costumes that are truly delicious eye-candy for their recent production of Angels of Enchantment. More about this production here.
Hiromi Yamazaki, photo by Tiffany Fong
Diablo Ballet celebrates their 20th anniversary this spring. This delicious Bay Area company may be small in size, but has one of the most diverse rosters around, with dancers hailing from Tokyo, Venezuela and the Ukraine.
May you feast and enjoy your blessings this holiday.
When I was a young dancer at the School of American Ballet, I would often talk myself out trying difficult things before I even got started. A teacher would show a complicated turning combination or we’d have some crazy new throw in partnering class and I’d freak out. Quietly. On the inside. My fears far outweighed the slender shreds of optimism I might have had and kept me paralyzed. It was a response pattern that held me back from achieving more.
For most of us this is a common reaction; our fears are sometimes overwhelming. It’s scary to put yourself out there, to try new things, to take risks. Far easier to talk ourselves out of it and stay safe.
Although in doing so, we lose out on opportunities. We deny ourselves the chance to grow, to surprise ourselves with previously untapped strengths and talents. We keep ourselves down. Trapped. Stagnant.
Here’s the new dance I’m learning: instead of talking myself out of it, I tell myself I’m going to give it a shot. I may succeed. I may fail. But if I never try then I’ll never know… and I certainly won’t move ahead.
This month I’ve thrown myself into National Novel Writing Month, an international challenge, where authors worldwide connect online and locally while in hot pursuit of their goal of writing an entire (at least 50,000 words) novel in one month. Yes, that’s thirty days. 1667 words per day (they even do the math for you at NaNoWriMo, how cool is that?) This is a lofty goal, I’ll admit. But I’m giving it my best shot and having a whole lot of fun doing it.
And yes, I will be reporting back on my progress at the end of the month.
By Photograph by northbaywanderer, background removed by Editor at Large (Original image posted to Flickr as Ballet Shoes) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
This morning as I was driving my daughter to school we passed two high school girls in full costume– green and blue tutus, flower garlands, and face paint. My daughter was mesmerized. “How old do you think those girls are?” she asked. “I want a tutu like that.”
Don’t we all?
The good news is: tutus are plentiful these days, featured everywhere from top fashion runways to Target. For those who have a particular tutu vision in mind, try some handmade, custom tutus on Etsy.
Bob Carey’s Tutu Project gets points for the most creative use of tutus I’ve ever seen. After his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, Carey donned a tutu and photographed himself against stunning natural backdrops and colorful landmarks. These photographs were published in a book to raise funds for cancer research.
Curious how they are made? Check out this video from the National Ballet of Canada:
Tutus aren’t just for the stage… or for Halloween. They aren’t just for little kids, either. Me, today, on Halloween. I’m going tutu. How about you?