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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000225.txt from 1998/03

From: "Kevin Fay" <kevinfay@-----.com>
Subj: Re: Ballet (was Marching Band (was alto mpcs))
Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 12:46:45 -0500

Ah yes . . . dancers. They work awfully hard--we should have their work
ethic. As to music, they're like singers, only with even less
musicality.

I must tell a story (which happens to be true). When I was an
undergrad--back when mastodons roamed the earth--I worked nights about
40 hrs. a week as a cook to pay my way thru. Consequently, I diligently
arranged to have my first class at noon.

As luck would have it, the dance department hired me w/ a bunch of other
music students to play Ravel's Introduction and Allegro for flute,
clarinet, harp & string quartet (great piece). They told me the
rehearsals were at seven.

You guessed it. I missed the first one, showing up to the hall after
dinner. I made the second one (the next morning), hauling in a cup of
coffee about the size of a bucket. The dancers, of course, had already
been there for about an hour "warming up" (which looked suspiciously
like torture).

I was not there five minutes when this sprite dancer bounced up to me
and chirped, "Hi--I'm April. Are you straight?" Having had about four
hours of sleep (and the coffee had not kicked in), all I could answer
was "huh?--uh, yeah." "Great!!" she replied--"wanna come to a party?"

As it happened, April and her friends were by and large dateless, since
most of the male dancers in the dep't were stereotypically gay. (Very
nice guys, mind you--they just didn't do April and her friends much good
in the date department). Hearing the call of duty, I and several of my
compatriots in the 5 o'clock stage band took it upon ourselves to ease
their distress.

I did not sleep very much that quarter. What I can remember, however, I
remember fondly.

Ballet is usually not a great musical experience. The dancers don't
like rubato, because it makes it very difficult to coordinate their
movements with each other--especially when they can barely hear you (in
professional companies, remember, you are seated under the stage). It's
hard to see the conductor while hopping, leaping and gyrating, too.

The most distressing part as a musician is that they want you to play
the piece exactly the same each time. This is understandable--holding a
fermata an extra beat while a ballerina is hoisted in the air could
break someone's leg. The performance does lose a bit of spontaneity,
though.

kjf

----Original Message Follows----
Subject: Ballet (was Marching Band (was alto mpcs)
Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 23:49:40 -0500
From: "David B. Niethamer" <dnietham@-----.edu>
"Mark Charette" <charette@-----.COM>

>> Marching band is a wonderful combination of mechanical
>> movement and music.
>
>Personally, if I want to see bodies moving and great music,
>I'll go to a ballet, where each genre is appreciated in it's
>own right.

Mark, I'll need to correct you here. If you've ever worked with a Ballet
company, you know they know nothing about music (mostly, anyway). Their
audience knows and appreciates it even less, if possible. Most dancers'
concept of rhythm relates to the old joke -

"one - two - three - four - five - six - sev - en"

About the only place I know where this isn't pretty close to the truth
is
the NYC Ballet, where Ballanchine's love and understanding of all kinds
of music pervades the repertoire still, years after his death.

David (whose daughter aspires to be a dancer)

David Niethamer
Principal Clarinet, Richmond Symphony
dnietham@-----.edu
http://members.aol.com/dbnclar1/

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