The topic of this post is inspired by my experience working on my own at the studio yesterday. Read on for my new insights into music as an integral part of ballet — and please, feel free to share your opinion and offer your own experiences. I would love for this to be the start of a comprehensive discussion on the matter. It is quite relevant to all dancers! But first, a quick update and summary of yesterday!
Yesterday, Tuesday, was the first day I was completely on my own in the studio, without a class to follow my private rehearsal time. It went well and I enjoyed it so much that I am thoroughly looking forward to my studio time today! It could have gone better — I will admit, I had some trouble getting over my tiredness to work as hard as I would have had someone been watching. But I realize now that it doesn’t matter who is watching; I am there to work hard, not to work at any less than my best. I can make a lot of progress by going to the studio by myself every day, if I work as hard as I would any other day. My ballet teacher is right, I need to not be a student anymore, but rather to learn how to be a professional artist. That means learning to work because I have to, for myself, and not just for an audience.
So today when I go to the studio, I will go in with the mindset of a professional, ready to put myself to work even though no one is there to call me out on any slacking off. Slacking off — that sounds bad! No, I did not slack off yesterday (those who know me would probably argue that they don’t think I could ever slack off no matter how hard I try!) Let’s just say that barre went by really quick. Too quick!
Part of the problem was the music. I brought my ipod to plug in to the CD player. But I found myself having to continuously stop in between the exercises to change, restart, or pause the music, and I found that to be very frustrating! I like flowing through barre with minimal interruptions between exercises, and I was unable to do that while keeping track of the music at the same time. So I ended up doing barre without any music at all! And now, I can’t decide what I like better or what I hate worse: using music but having to stop constantly throughout barre to fix it, or not using music and being able to flow through the exercises but not having the beautiful music to accompany my movements and inspire them.
I think, however, that I will go the no-music route. Why? It’s a good lesson. It’s an experience I need to know how to deal with and manage. I need to learn to feel the music created from inside of me, and to translate it into my movements.
Part of the way I visualize success in my dancing is the ability to make an audience feel music when there is none, to stimulate their sense of sound even when only their sense of vision — watching me dance — is actually being used.
Ballet requires music; ballet would not be what it is without Tchaikovsky, Minkus, Adam, Shostakovich, Saint-Saens, Chopin…
But imagine what great feats a dancer can accomplish with music if they have the ability to creatively transmit music through their motions when there is none. It is, I think, in the absence of music when we are most able to understand and develop our connection to music.
This would be an opportune time to share ilyaballet’s most recent video blog about some of the male students at the Bolshoi Academy. I forgot about it until now when what I was writing — about the music — was very similar to a situation his boys were in a few weeks ago. Their pianist was ill, and so they carried out several classes without any music at all. It turned out to be an invaluable experience, and everything Ilya and his boys say in the video rings true to my opinions, as is reflected in this post. To see the video and gather more insight into the topic, check out the video titled “5 – Bolshoi Ballet Academy VideoBlog” on ilyaballet’s YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/ilyaballet
So today, when I go to the studio to give myself a class, I will keep all of this in mind and really work toward establishing a deeper connection with the music by learning how to dance without music. I feel that this is a good step toward acting on what my teacher said I need to learn to do — behave like an artist, instead of like a student. The time has come for me to take my dancing to a different level. I am certain that putting myself through such an experience is exactly the way to start doing that!
And just for fun, here is proof that I did work hard yesterday even though I did not work my hardest! Can you see the sweat glistening on my face and shoulders?!