Sunday, August 1, 2010

Musicality: Just like dimples...some have it, some don't!

All year long, I've been wanting to write about the subject of Musicality. There are so many different directions I can go with this subject that every time I start to write, I end up getting frustrated and walking away from it. Therefore, this past year, my running theme has been Musicality. I am convinced that this is something people are born with, like dimples.

What is Musicality? Merriam-Webster defines it:

1 : sensitivity to, knowledge of, or talent for music
2 : the quality or state of being musical : melodious

Both musicians and dancers can agree with me when I say that there are people who can dance or play an instrument well, but have no musicality what-so-ever. They stumble through rhythms, or they ignore the music all together. I believe Musicality lives in ones' body. If you don't feel it, you don't have it.

As a musician, I often look at playing for ballet classes like I'm accompanying a mute choir. Everybody is moving en mass and it's my responsibility is to know what is going on at all times. In the best scenario, the teacher will narrate verbally so I know exactly when they are switching sides and when they are ending the exercise. But unlike accompanying for a choir or a soloist, musicians and dancers need to work together like a conversation. They have to be sensitive to what I'm playing, and at the same time, I need to be 100% aware of what is going on.

Dance is competitive, just like life. With that said, I don't care if a dancer can do 5 to 10 pirouettes. Yes, it's impressive and I stop and go, "Wow! They can spin for days!" However, I'm screaming on the inside going, "Land on the damn MUSIC!" If the music only allows you to do 3 pirouettes, do 3 pirouettes, not 6! Unless you can spin in double-time. If you can spin in double time, then I shall bow to you. There's also the case of Adage at the centre. Are dancers so fixated on balancing themselves on their developpƩs and their port de corp that phrasing completely go out the window? I can only pull back so much. Or how they love to just sit on a pliƩ for days and wiggle around to find their place before going up for a pirouette which again, results in them BEING LATE!!!!! Dancers need to meet me in the middle. Is that too much to ask?

Here is my last thought. I promise.

I had the opportunity to work with Kee Juan Han from Washington Ballet School. He had a lot of funny quotes which I will have to post later. But this was one that strikes a chord, no pun intended.

He said, "I need to see the music!"

Calling out to all dancers, I need to see the music.