100 tips for working with ballet pianists #20: Respond to music with your class
Teach by example and show your response to the music that is played. Think of class as a kind of ‘guided discovery’ of music for your students. Staying unmoved and unmoving while the pianist plays sends a signal to the students – and the pianist – that there is nothing in the music worth responding to. And even if it’s old hat to you – remember that it isn’t to them.
I was awestruck by the late great Raissa Struchkova teaching one of the girls’ Pas de Trois solos from Act I of Swan Lake. It’s not the greatest music Tchaikovsky wrote, but Struchkova taught the dancer how to be moved (literally!) by every semiquaver of the music. She treated the melody of the music exactly as a violinist would – paying enormous effort and attention to every nuance of articulation, and dancing as if her feet were playing the floor like a violin string.