Tag Archives: advent 2006

Faster Tendus Christopher Hampson – Non, monsieur je n’ai pas vingt ans

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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.

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Slow tendus Malcolm Williamson – Blue Moon

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This is day 4 in my Dance Inspirations Advent Calendar (II)

Why Blue Moon and Malcolm Williamson? It’s simple. When I first met and worked with Malcolm in Angoulême in 1982, I was enthusing to him one day about the popular music of the 30s and 40s, which I said I thought was a golden age in music. ‘Really?’ he asked, in an astonished voice. I thought I’d made the most awful faux pas. Here I was with the Master of the Queen’s Musick saying that I thought The Girl in the Upstairs Flat and the Flat Foot Floogie were symbols of a golden age in music. What was I thinking of?

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Pliés Pat Neary – Tonight from West Side Story

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This is day 3 in my Dance Inspirations Advent Calendar (II)

Some of the greatest dancers and teachers I’ve met have one thing in common at least: their mind is always ‘on’ as far as music is concerned, like someone who never puts the phone down in case the other person still has something to say. There’s usually one dancer in a studio who’ll give you the most fleeting of smiles because they heard the way you phrased something differently today than yesterday, or because there’s an extra hint of happiness or sadness in the way you played a familiar song, or because the piece has (if you but recognised it or thought about it) special connotations. Great teachers feel moved by the music with, if not before the dancers, and sweep the class along with them.

The first time I played for Pat Neary’s class was one cold winter morning at 10 am at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin (which feels like 7.00am in most people’s days), and instantly I realised she was one of those people who felt everything in the music.

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Pliés Belinda Quirey – Minuet in B minor J S Bach

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This is day 2 in my Dance Inspirations Advent Calendar (II)

The more I think about the Minuet in B Minor from Bach’s suite BWV 1067, the less I think I should ever play it for pliés. This was the first dance that I had to play for one of Belinda Quirey’s historical dance classes at the RAD, and it was a revelation.

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Warm-up à la Jackie Barratt: – Georgia on my mind

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This is day 1 in my Dance Inspirations Advent Calendar (II)

I’d only have to play a couple of chords of Georgia on my mind for warm-up and Jackie Barratt would melt. What a great way to start a class. It makes me melt too, and here’s why.

During my student days over 25 years ago, I bought a double LP from the Army & Navy stores in Victoria called And the Bands Played On, released by the BBC, which had a selection of songs from World War II on it. I think I bought it because I didn’t have any records with me in London at the time, and I picked up the first one I saw.

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Welcome to Advent Calendar II

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During Advent of last year, I wrote tributes to the people of the dance world who’d been an inspiration to me as a musician, and called it my Dance Inspirations Advent Calendar (you have to scroll down to the bottom and read it backwards, of course). On Christmas day, I invented a ‘menu‘ of music to go with each person. “Each piece of music reminds me in a special way of the person they are associated with below, for reasons which I’d go into if I didn’t have to put a turkey in the oven myself”, I said.

Well, I don’t have to put a turkey in the oven for another 24 days, so welcome to my Advent 2006 calendar where I reveal some of the thoughts that go through my head while I’m playing.