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Imagining a Ballet

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Maybe this topic has gone around before, but does anyone else tend to visualize a ballet while listening to music? I do it constantly; I have imagined so many ballets...if I only had talent, I could give Chris Wheeldon a run for his money.

Maybe someone can tell me if Prokofiev's Piano Concerto #1 has ever been made into a ballet? To me, the music cries out: "Dance!!"...I have the whole ballet ready as a concept. It has the most sultry adagio you could imagine, including a musical quote from Wagner's Liebestod. If no one has set it yet, someone should...

Anyone have a similar feeling about a piece of music?

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I often visualize dancing (skating, too) while listening to music, but as a rule my imagination tends to run away with itself and I start seeing things that would be difficult to do in reality, to put it mildly. I’ve generally found that when I think to myself, “This would be really good for dancing,” I find out eventually that somebody somewhere has already thought of it.

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Great topic, Oberon!

I've been especially drawn to Dvorak's "American Quartet." I've seen two choreographers' treatment of all or part of it. Who was it -- Lynne Taylor-Corbett, I think? -- who did the Second Movement for one of the Diamond Festivals? Stephanie Saland danced it in a green unitard -- forget with whom. Was it a simple pas de deux, or a double pas de deux? Can't remember. Maybe Ari does, or Zerbinetta. Hockeyfan? Anyone?

This was not the ballet in my head, despite the fact that Stephanie was in my version, too.

Paul Estabrook choreographed a lovely work to it, picking up on a lot of what I heard in the music -- the space, the optimisim, the supreme contentment. He just didn't have my renverse motif. Oh, and in my version, Stephanie is still dancing, right at the top of her form!

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Years ago when I worked with a small company on Cape Cod, the director/choreographer began working on a ballet to Mendelssohn's Italian Symphony...we spent many an evening sitting around the studio with a few dancers on hand as she tried various things, the music playing beautifully in the background. Sadly, it never developed as financial woes caused her to disband the group. It would make a teriffic ballet. As would his piano trios...either one, really.

Carbro, I agree the Dvorak "American" cries out for choreography.

I once "invented" a very dark piece for 8 men to Britten's "Lachrymae"...it was at the height of the AIDS devastation and was to be a reflection on suffering and loss. I even cast it, using 8 guys from NYCB...my notes about it are still here...somewhere...

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Back when I was teaching I choreographed most of a ballet to Mozart (Eine Kleine) while riding the Greyhound bus from San Francisco to Seattle. Amazingly enough, when I went to rehearsal to set it later in the week, almost all of it worked out without needing adjustment, which hadn't happened to me before or since. I've always thought it was the score -- it's so very danceable.

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Rimsky-Korsakov's Capriccio Espagnol. Performed by NYCB, of course.

The tone is Spanish - castanets in the orchestra. The Ladies in red and

black tutus - the Men in toreador pants and black velvet bolero jackets.

The overall look is very Russian - fast and sharp and brilliant.........

a huge ensemble of 40 dancers in a grand Petipa/Balanchine finale.....

Oh, I've dreamed about it for years and recast it many times. This

piece of music is so exciting - it is perfect for a Ballet.

Peter, can you hear me? :)

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I'm so far gone that if I can't visualise ballet (or some form of dance) to a piece of music, I usually, as a consequence, don't like the music!

Is it possible to listen to [non-vocal] music and not visualize dance to it?

I'm only lately coming to realize that music has other ways to appreciate it!

I'm with ostrich!! I still use dancibility as my primary form of evaluation of music... though I guess some music is acceptable for non-dancing reverie... generally if it's dull rhythmically; it's dull.

... latest driver's seat confession: Applachian Spring with children dancing balletically. (yikes, will I be tarred & feathered?)

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This may sound kind of strange, but I'd like to do a ballet set to old Hindi Bollywood film songs from the 40's, 50's and 60's. I'm not talking about the disco/hip-hop lame songs that populate Hindi films today. Back then those songs really meant something. They were actually poetry set to music using traditional Indian instruments. They were orchestrated to the highest level. They could be quite fun too, one of my alltime favorites is Hoton Mein Aise from the film Jewel Thief. It's got an amazing display of drum beats and slowly builds to an exciting white knuckle finish.

Anyway, the steps to the ballet itself would be a combination of classical ballet and Bharata-natyam. The singers would be in the pit with the musicians. Perhaps Asha Bhoshle could be persuaded to sing :) . The dancers would be costumed in rich gold brocaded silk. The men would be sexy, tender and loving. The women would be flirty, charming and exotically beautiful. I could go on and on, but I'll stop now :)

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so glad to know it's not just me.  I do it constantly while driving, to, dare I say it, all kinds of music.

It's not just you! When stuck in traffic I imagine ballets and modern pieces, set around or on the top of the cars in front of me. Mostly modern pieces though, because then my imaginary dancers can make full use of props like traffic lights, cones, guardrails etc. :)

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Just listened to Gershwin's Piano COncerto in F, and thought it'd be an excellent ballet. Did some research to see if it had been done - and Jerome Robbins has done a ballet to it, for New York City Ballet. But I don't recall seeing it on the rep list in the recent few years, nor has it been brought up very much in discussion...what is this ballet like? Is it considered a "non-major" work?

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You're right, Art, it is rarely performed. The choreography follows the jazzy, urban feel of that wonderful music. It has a corps of eight couples (I think there were eight, anyway) dressed in "Rubies"-red practice clothes -- a great color-- and two lead couples. One couple is young, innocent lovers, the other worldly ones. Wow! There's an angle!

I once saw it on a bill with In G Major and Opus 19, which formed a trilogy of Robbins ballets to 20th century concertos. The Gershwin can almost be seen as a synthesis of the Ravel and Prokofiev -- darker than the former and brighter than the latter.

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The second part is another Prokofiev piece but I can't quite remember the name - I'll try and get back to you.

Prokofiev's First Piano Concerto is used in Gala Performance? I don't remember that. I do remember his "Classical" Symphony as the score for that work.

And welcome, MinkusPugni, to BalletTalk! To see from your first posts --and your name -- you have a great interest in ballet music. When you get a moment, please stop by the Welcome Page and tell us a bit about yourself. Thank you.

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I constantly do this, especially to my favorite songs on 2 CDs that I have. I am dying to choreograph a piece by the band Bond and a song by Evanescence (sorry I can't remember the names of the songs). There are 3 piano pieces that I played while taking piano lessons a few years ago that I would love to choreograph too; those 3 pieces were my favorites of my 9 years of lessons. I can only remember one name, "Dawning", by Betty Colley.

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Whenever I listen to a piece of ballet music I can't help but imagine what actually happens in the ballet or what I would improve or change. It's fun. But one piece that evokes HEAPS of balletic images is Tchaikovsky's Serenade in C (Balanchine used this music for Serenade). Another piece is Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto and also his Violin Concerto. Alot of Tchaikovsky there, but his music so so great!

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