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Interesting blog by Eleanor Turney in the Guardian about dancing to words, and what makes it work or not work. It’s a topic that interests me a lot, ever since, about ten years ago, I saw a pas de deux in Christopher Hampson’s Canciones done to a reading of the poem instead of the sung version, due to a ghastly cock-up over rights.

It has stayed with me as one of the most beautiful, haunting, and musical moments of dance, one of my favourites, even. You have to understand that it’s all I can do to stay awake in a pas de deux. Too much blurred sentimental wrestling. But in this instance, the rise and fall of Rosario Serrano’s voice seemed to be more musically communicative and articulate than any music could have been.

Perhaps the reason it worked is precisely because the movement had originally been choreographed to de Falla’s music rather than the words, so what emerged from the conjunction of the music and text was the musicality of the poetry, not what it meant.

5 thought on “Dancing to words”
  1. G’day Jonathan,
    I enjoy reading your posts from time to time, especially as you are someone who speaks my language. By the way, did you know that your website comes up as #1 in a googlesearch for choreomusicology! In the spirit of sharing the latest developments in that field with you, you might be interested in this recent piece about choreomusicology:
    On one hand it’s a gratuitous self-plug, on the other hand I hope the article is of interest for you.
    I have to say that I wish I had seen Hampson’s Canciones! It sounds as though it was exquisitely engaging!
    All the best for your PhD at IOE 🙂

    1. Hi Paul,
      Funnily enough, I’ve just read your article this week. It turned up on my Google Reader just in time for me to put it in my module on ‘Perspectives on Music and Dance’ on the RAD distance learning degree in Dance Education! It was absolutely of interest, and perfect for the module, because it sums up the state of the field in a way I could only have dreamed of before I saw it. Now I know you read my posts from time to time I’d better be a bit more responsible. Thanks for the good wishes, and for the article!

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Jonathan Still, ballet pianist