Projects like Where Sound and Motion Meet are artistically and intellectually interesting adventures, but they also allow me to indulge my various passions. I love to dance – it doesn’t matter what kind. My current favorite is Argentine tango.
More recently, I have found dance to be a powerful teaching tool – one that helps us understand music and music making. Dance also has important physical ramifications for the musician. By embodying the music, we reinforce our sense of rhythm and heighten our kinesthetic connection to music.
I have fantasized about creating a class at the conservatory called Dance for Musicians. The rough draft includes three types of dance, for specific reasons.
- South African boot dance – to help internalize rhythm and overcome inhibitions. Rhythmic control is an essential part of good musicianship. It also plays an important role in relaxation. If we are not ‘on top of’ the rhythm, we grab at things, which causes tension.
- Baroque dance – because much standard repertoire is based on baroque dance forms. Feeling the dance within the body provides insights into interpretation. Authentic movements are readily available. Notation for the dance steps was developed in the late 17th century, and there is a large body of choreography.
- Argentine tango – an improvised dance that depends upon the same skill set as chamber music playing: communication of intent, feeling/listening and responding to one’s partner, while expressing the music. In addition, it requires a strong relationship with the floor – an important component of relaxed playing.
For boot dance, students create their own variations and teach them to the class. For baroque and tango, students both play and dance.
Next semester, serious conversations with the dance department will finally begin. It will be very exciting to see what they suggest. The best part is that I would get to work with the dance faculty. What a fantastic learning opportunity for me!