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Harald Krytinar. This links to a picture of me & Harald in our studio in Berlin in 1996. This is Dec. 14th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th

I am thankful to Harald and glad to know him for many reasons. I met him in Germany, where we were both employed at the Deutsche Oper Berlin (he currently dances with Ballet Preljocaj ) . He’s an instinctive musician; one of those dancers who hears music so acutely that if you decided to articulate four semiquavers differently today than yesterday, or to put in an extra rubato, he’d notice, and raise a cheerful eyebrow at you as he moved a limb or tendon in a correspondingly different way. It’s those dancers who make being a dance musician worthwhile – well, let’s face it, they make watching dance worthwhile.

As a musician, dancer, sound technician and friend, we had many conversations about music for dance in the various contexts one finds it in a theatre – classes, rehearsals, performances; the problems with conductors, the problems of stage monitors, tempo, sound equipment, cuing shows. As with so many other people in this calendar, I owe much of my understanding of dance and music to these conversations.

In very practical ways, he helped me out with my job. It’s common to see musicians in rehearsals sitting humiliated in front of a company while they try to understand where the ballet master wants to go from in the score. Harald never let this happen – he’d be over at the piano and mediating between music & ballet master in seconds – I only wish there were more people like that. He was ever practical and solicitous – he once came back from a DIY store with a clip-on spot-lamp as a solution to the very poor lighting on the music-stand at the piano, announcing that it was his Christmas present to the musicians. “If it can be better, why not change it?”, though not a Harald quote, is very much in the Krytinar spirit.

He is a much more orderly person than I am, and I am grateful that just a little of that rubbed off (eventually). We had a small music production company called JHB GoodSounds, and he was an instinctive genius at project management, artistic direction, record-keeping, PR, audio production. Probably the most valuable thing I learned from him then, which I still use regularly today, is never to say “We’ll clean that up later” when you’re making a recording. If you go down that route, you end up with an entire session of useless takes: get it right, get it in the can, edit it, change it, whatever is necessary, but finish the job as you go along, don’t leave a mess for editing afterwards.

Harald and I used to live on Hanuta biscuits - we'd buy multi packs at Penny Markt and munch our way through them while working for hours on a song. He brought me a packet over when we met at the Sadler's Wells.
But I am particularly grateful to Harald for one rather odd thing, considering that it has nothing directly to do with ballet or music. Since we had a business together, we also had quite a lot of computer & sound engineering gear. In late 1996 (I think it was) he said, with a very gleeful and conspiratorial smile, “Hey, shall we get…a modem?!” He is an early adopter, I’m a wait-and-see person, but I grudgingly agreed. I failed to understand his excitement, but I sat patiently as he waited an unconscionably long time for information from Nasa to download. There was a group of us in Berlin at that time – Victor Alvarez, Paul Egan & Harald (Paul was the whizzkid) who were trying hard to make it all work, and to understand what it was all about and what it could do. They were all at least 10 years younger than me, and much less ditzy. It was thanks to them, but particularly Harald for making us get a modem, that I got hooked on the marvels of the internet before I had the chance to decide that I would be one of those who would have nothing to do with that newfangled technology.

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist