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This is day 12 in my Dance Inspirations Advent Calendar (II)

feschelola.jpgWoytek Lowski often used to look quite severe during class, probably due to a combination of his angular features, an intense focus on the job at hand, and the aloofness of a visionary. He was also a terrifically hard worker, and expected others to be no different. By the time class started, he had probably been awake for hours, writing down and memorizing exercises in longhand in reporters pads.

But the look could crack suddenly into rapture or helpless laughter, and all it took was a piece of music. I knew Friedrich Hollaender’s wonderful comic song Ich bin die fesche Lola from working with Gertrude Thoma, but what I knew was only the notes and the words – the song didn’t have a context or history for me. Woytek, as I discovered, knew the film it came from, Der blaue Engel, with Marlene Dietrich as the eponymous Lola of the song, and so the minute I started playing it for a class full of male dancers at 10.15 in the morning, he found it outrageously funny. (Incidentally, another luminary of this calendar, Christopher Hampson, knows the whole chorus in German, and always sings along if I’m playing it. It’s a funny old world.) It was not the first time, by a long shot, that a dancer ended up teaching me about the music I was playing – and my gratitude for that is the point of these Advent calendars.
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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist