CriticalDance Forum

Dance accompanist looking for advice!
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Author:  Eyrie [ Wed Jan 20, 2010 12:50 am ]
Post subject:  Dance accompanist looking for advice!

I play at a ballet school two nights a week, I just started in August so I am rather new to it.
It is my favorite job, I look forward to every class, and have started to take class myself!

Anyway, the teacher is pleased and would like me to do a workshop this summer on music. I am researching and trying to arrange what to discuss, plus activities.

As dancers, what would be the most helpful for you to learn about music? I am expecting to have many listening exercises, and also hopefully use some Dalcroze exercises as well (still researching dalcroze and eurythmics). I figure time would also be spent on vocab. I have a bit of an outline and was wondering if dancers here could tell me "more of _____" or "less of ____". Any input is greatly appreciated! The students are in ballet 6, high school age. Teacher has okayed the outline but she is very busy and I don't want to take up a lot of her time with details if possible.

Music theory and terms (lots of listening examples) - major vs. minor, "cadences", "phrases", "tonic", "dominant", polyphony, polytonality

Music history - eras of music such as baroque, classical, romanticism, modern -impressionism, expressionism, primitivism, neo-classicism. Common trends/qualities/ideals in each era/movement. The way history of music relates to history of ballet, etc. Overview of composers for ballet. Perhaps a bit on Balanchine, the relationship of his choreography to music, and his musical choices.

Issues of timing (dance exercises to accompany)- duple vs. triple meter, what is the difference between the words "rhythm" "pulse" "beat", explanation of rubato, ritardando, accelerando. Overview of odd time signature - 5/8 etc. Irregular phrasing.

Movement and music - Dalcroze exercises (hopefully!), analysis of movement in relation to beats using conducting, discussion of what makes a dancer "musical", compare and constrasting of performances (maybe using youtube?).

Author:  Dean Speer [ Wed Jan 20, 2010 1:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance accompanist looking for advice!

Each of the subjects within your outline seem quite good. I suggest an initial overview, so the students don't feel overwhelmed...and importantly, show how this knowledge does and can relate directly to their classroom technique/classes and how it may be applied to performance.

When I was a ballet student in college, my classmates couldn't always understand why they were in music theory ("Music for Dance") and were fairly upfront about their displeasure, so I think you need to be clear about its relevance and importance to their work.

That said, help and coach them to be more musical. I've been on audition tours, and I cannot tell you how often I see very nicely trained ballet students who are not also able to be equally musical. Often they are not on the beat -- typically behind -- and have trouble placing the "center" of their poses/shapes on the center of a downbeat; usually not anticipating enough.

They are dancing to the music but not necessarily with it.

Many teachers that I've recently interviewed for my book, "On Technique," have all said that many (and in a couple of cases, all) technical problems can be fixed by fixing the musical ones.

Good luck with your program. It's very important and I applaud your efforts. Thank you!

Author:  Eyrie [ Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:09 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dance accompanist looking for advice!

Thank you so much!
Yes, I did not think of that but I should definitely show how the information pertains to them and their performance.
Thank you for the well wishes. I'm extremely excited about this job and putting together this workshop!

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