On the topic of music…

…who is your favorite composer? Without hesitation, I can say that mine is Chopin. And for the last few days, I have been especially drawn to his Waltz #10 in B Minor, Op. 69/2.

My favorite time to listen to classical music is while working out. Yep, you read the correctly! The unsuspecting people at the gym who see me pushing myself hard on the elliptical with an energized look on my face would be wrong about 98% of the time if they guessed I were rocking out to Lady Gaga at the gym (I say 98% because there is the odd occasion in which I feel more inclined to work out to more…conventional…exercise music!) The topic has come up in conversation before, and when I tell people what I am listening to I generally get a look of confusion, or the classic “why in the world…” look. Is it ignorance? Lack of exposure or education? Different interests, different personalities? It’s probably a mix of those. And what a shame, too!

Next time you work out, try it my way. Plug yourself into some Chopin or your preferred composer and lose yourself in the music. My guess is that your workout will go by quicker than ever, and that you will enjoy your workout so much that it will feel to have gone by too quickly!

I also enjoy listening to classical compositions while warming up and getting ready for class

For the record, I started listening to classical music during my workouts because I would listen to the music for variations or dances I was rehearsing at the time and I would run the pieces in my head as I worked out; I still do this all the time! The only downside to this is that you may find your hands marking the movements or your face reflecting the expressions you hope to do on stage — and that can look kind of funny to the other people working out! So just keep that in mind, or do like I do, and be indifferent to what other people think of you while working out. I’m there to enjoy myself and improve my body, it’s me time, so I choose to be selfish while at the gym and give a thought to no one but myself 😉

As a closing note on the topic of music, I would like to mention some interesting feedback and insight I received from others in response to my previous post on the connection between music and the dancer. First of all, thank you to those who left comments under the post — to read these comments, scroll down to the bottom of my last post and click the ‘comments’ link.

I opened a topic about this subject on a forum I frequent, dance.net — here is what one forum user, toroandbruin, had to say on the topic:

A lot of dancers like the music of Philip Glass. I didn’t understand this until I saw a company (contemporary in this case) dancing to one of his pieces. His works are, well the word which springs to mind is “minimalist”. Good, but sort of missing something, for me anyway. Not so when the group was dancing to it! The dance would have been OK on its own without music. It formed its own pattern. But the pattern of the dance and the pattern of the Glass music complemented and completed each other perfectly making a wonderfully rich whole. It was kind of like Gounod’s “Ave Maria” and Bach’s “Prelude No. 1 in C major” together forming one of the world’s most acclaimed pieces of music. Separately they are good, great even, but not as truly exceptional as they are together. So I realized that dance can go beyond interpreting music and add something to it.

Another point — although dancers can be inspired by music, the opposite also is true. Musicians can be inspired by watching dancers. When my daughter was taking dance the school did a performance in a mall. The next day an African drummer walked into the school to tell the jazz teacher he would really like to drum for her class and would charge a reasonable rate. The resulting class was incredible, both in terms of dancing and drumming. One of my ballet classes has a pianist who is a genius at playing all sorts of classical music adapted to just the right tempo and length for our exercises. But during our stretch we get the musician’s own wonderful “freeform” compositions which, I’ve come to realize, are inspired by us as well as we are by it.

Once you have created a dance in the absence of music, it would be interesting to have a musician friend compose a piece of music for it. 

Someone else I have had contact with online went ahead and responded to me directly on their own blog.

Dance writers have generally suggested that movement is more essential than music in dance.  Play a video of a dance performance without music, and it’s still dance.  Play it without the video, and you’re just listening to a musical performance, it is no longer dance… [to read more, please visit Green Pumpkin’s blog: http://open.salon.com/blog/green_pumpkin/2011/11/23/behind_the_magic_how_dancers_create_music]

If anyone is interested in seeing more of the dance.net discussion, here is the link to the topic: http://www.dance.net/topic/9790516/1/Ballet-General/Insight-on-being-part-of-the-music-instead-of-dancing-alongside-it-Opinions-wanted.html&replies=5

Finally, in honor of Thanksgiving, I would like to give a huge thank you to my readers so far! In the fours days my blog has been up, I have already had close to 250 views!! Please continue reading and don’t hesitate to make suggestions if you are inclined to do so 🙂

I wish everyone a successful Black Friday (do ballet stores have any deals??) and a peaceful weekend! Stay tuned for more blog posts soon about topics relevant to ballet dancers as well as random ramblings and updates on my own dancing!


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