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This is day 5 in my Dance Inspirations Advent Calendar (II)

I’ve been working with the unerringly, brilliantly musical Christopher Hampson as a dancer, friend, colleague, drinking partner, teacher, inspiration, mentor, you-name-it and all of the above in any order or no order at all, all at once, for so long now that we’ve built up a whole library of music that could go in this slot of the Advent Calendar. But there’s one in particular which I’ve grown to associate with him to the extent that I might request it for my funeral, just to make sure he laughs (a favourite pastime that, thinking of music or other things to request that will corpse your best mate at your own funeral).

Juliette Gréco’s song Non monsieur, je n’ai pas vingt ans was one of the chansons I covered with Nicolas Mead and Gertrude Thoma in a show called From Brecht to Brel, and which soon went into my class repertoire. In rehearsal, I put a little piano riff in at the end of the song which is really no more than a rhythmic vamp on the harmony, but we liked it so it stayed.

Some while ago, as I was playing this, Chris said that there was something about it that always made him want to do this (he did the kind of shimmy that you see at Turkish wedding receptions). There’s something quite funny about watching a teacher involuntarily do Turkish wedding-dancing in the middle of class, so I make sure that I always include it somewhere. The funny part, as Chris explains, is that no matter how many times I play it, and however well prepared he is, and no matter how much he tells himself or thinks that it’s not funny any more right up until the bar before the riff happens, once those chords start, he’s off. I guess that’s the great thing about private jokes – they never cease being funny because you end up laughing at the fact that they’re funny, long after the initial joke has passed.

And after all that, now that I’ve looked up the lyrics of the song to link to in this blog entry, I realise that I never knew what the song was about until now. The things you learn…

? (970kb/mp3)

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist