is December 21st in my Dance
Inpirations advent calendar
My website hasn’t yet become what I once intended it to be, having been hijacked by exigencies and the mundane, but the fact that it’s here at all is thanks to a conversation with Thomas Edur. Some years ago I was chatting to him & Yat Sen Chang in a corridor at a party, having an animated discussion about musicality. It annoyed me at the time – as it still does now – that in some ways, it’s not that complicated an issue, despite the ink & frowns that are expended on it. All it needs is for people to address it, and in practical terms, keep music and musicality high on the agenda in the studio – what’s complicated & difficult is trying to get it there in the first place. I’ve met plenty of people whose approach to music, musicality in performance, and sensitivity to music is exemplary – Tom chief amongst them – and yet they are not often called upon to share it or discuss it, except for the occasional insight like this one from Thomas in a Radio 3 interview – “I remember being told when I was eight years old; “If you can sing the melody, then you can dance it.”
We were all roughly agreeing on this, when Tom came out with a sentiment that I agreed with so much, it’s haunted me ever since. With an angry desperation in his voice, he said “Who talks about the spirit of music?” Who indeed. That very thing that drives dancers and musicians to want to dance or make music, the thing that brings people to the theatre or concert hall, or to dance around in their living room, what happened to that? Why don’t teachers, and worse still, those who teach teachers, talk about the spirit of music? “Don’t watch me”, Tom once said in a rehearsal for his solo in Les Sylphides. “You just play how you want to play, because the point is I have to look like I am dancing to your music. If you follow me, it will look wrong”. It’s that kind of insight that I wish would become general knowledge.
Chang pointed out to me that it would be a very simple matter to host a website for such issues. The twinkle in my eye, as it were, was for a place where you could gather the wisdom of the great and the good and share it, and offer the world a place to discuss it. Well, that was the idea, that was how this website started, and although I don’t think I’ve achieved any of what I set out to do yet, maybe this advent calendar does go a little way towards celebrating and acknowledging the spirit of music in dance.
I was thrilled earlier this year when I was asked to play for Tom & Agnes in Derek Deane’s Impromptu at the Genée awards. I played for their first performance of this at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires in 1993, and there was something very lovely about revisiting it after all this time. Working with them is a delight. To be surrounded by so much warmth, friendliness, good humour and sense of humour, professionalism and inspiration is more than anyone could ask for in a job; to be on stage with them feels more ‘at home’ than being at home. For the spirit of music like Impromptu to live and breathe, you need all that. Who talks about the spirit of music?… Well, we do, at least.