December 2005 Archives

HAPPY CHRISTMAS 2005

Woytek Lowski Gillian Cornish John O'Brien Malcolm Williamson Jackie Barratt Pussy (Diana Payne Myers) Christopher Hampson David Wall HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
Susie Cooper Daniel Jones Ivan Nagy Wayne Sleep Betty Anderton Harald Krytinar Victor Alvarez Pat Neary
Klaus Beelitz Belinda Quirey Irena Pasaric Mark Morris Thomas Edur Ann Hogben Graham Bond Tania Fairbairn

There's a wonderful restaurant in Prague called Restaurace Století where I've spent many a happy time with friends and colleagues from the ballet masterclasses. Each dish on Století's menu is named after a particular luminary of the 20th century. In the same spirit, and as the finale to this dance inspirations advent calendar, may I present to you my Christmas Dinner Class Menu. Each piece of music reminds me in a special way of the person they are associated with below, for reasons which I'd go into if I didn't have to put a turkey in the oven myself. Happy christmas, and bon appetit!

Potage du Jour

Warm-up Jackie Barratt: - Georgia on my mind


Les hors d'oeuvres

Pliés Belinda Quirey - Minuet in B minor J S Bach

Pliés Pat Neary - Tonight from West Side Story

Slow tendus Malcolm Williamson - Blue Moon

Faster Tendus Christopher Hampson - Non, monsieur je n'ai pas vingt ans

Battements glissés David Wall - Rondeau from Les Biches

Battements glissés Tania Fairbairn - Turkey in the straw

Ronds de jambe à terre Irena Pasarić - Ne vrijedi plakati (starogradska pjesma)

Battements fondus Thomas Edur - Mazurka in C major from Les Sylphides

Battements frappés Klaus Beelitz - Ich wöllt' ich wär' ein Huhn

Ronds de jambe en l'air Betty Anderton - Adèle's laughing song from Die Fledermaus

Petits battements Woytek Lowski - Ich bin die fesche Lola!

Grands battements Mark Morris -Take back your mink

[Veuillez prendre place au milieu]

Les Entrées

Tendus & pirouettes Ann Hogben - Waltz from The Haunted Ballroom

Pirouettes Graham Bond - Pigtail Girl from Graduation Ball

Pirouettes en diagonal Pussy - Wunderbar from Kiss Me Kate

Adage Victor Alvarez - Chopin: Prelude in D flat ('Raindrop Prelude)


Les Plats Principaux

Warm-up jump Harald Krytinar - If I only had wings

Petit allegro Susie Cooper - Flat foot floogie with the floy, floy

Allegro John O'Brien - Zwei dunkle Augen

Batterie Gillian Cornish - Last movement from Beethoven piano concerto No. 5 (The Emperor)


Les Desserts

Grand allegro Wayne Sleep - Coda from Diane & Acteon

Grand allegro Ivan Nagy - Tarantella from Etudes

Manège Daniel Jones - There is nothing like a dame

Tania Fairbairn

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Woytek Lowski Gillian Cornish John O'Brien Malcolm Williamson Jackie Barratt Pussy (Diana Payne Myers) Christopher Hampson David Wall This is December 24th in my Dance Inpirations advent calendar
Susie Cooper Daniel Jones Ivan Nagy Wayne Sleep Betty Anderton Harald Krytinar Victor Alvarez Pat Neary
Klaus Beelitz Belinda Quirey Irena Pasaric Mark Morris Thomas Edur Ann Hogben Graham Bond Tania Fairbairn

Not Tania, but someone in Budapest dancing a czardas, which seemed kind of appropriate, although I suspect Tania might have done it much better. The picture isn't of Tania, but it is of a Hungarian woman doing the csárdás in a restaurant in Budapest. There was a lot of wine, a lot of food, a lot of dancing, and a lot of music. My kind of evening.
As it comes to the end of this advent calendar, I'm left with a very difficult decision: I still have all kinds of people I'd love to pay homage to, but advent is advent, and I've got to stop because tomorrow's christmas. So I applied a criterion - it had to be someone, or an event involving someone, which I find myself constantly referring to in conversation with friends and colleagues.

Graham Bond

Woytek Lowski Gillian Cornish John O'Brien Malcolm Williamson Jackie Barratt Pussy (Diana Payne Myers) Christopher Hampson David Wall This is December 23rd in my Dance Inpirations advent calendar
Susie Cooper Daniel Jones Ivan Nagy Wayne Sleep Betty Anderton Harald Krytinar Victor Alvarez Pat Neary
Klaus Beelitz Belinda Quirey Irena Pasaric Mark Morris Thomas Edur Ann Hogben Graham Bond 24

Me & Graham Bond - and if you click on the link, the singer James Meek, too - after a performance of Robert North's A Stranger I Came (with me & James doing the Schubert songs), Swansong & Etudes in the opera house in Budapest, 1991

What works on a piano in the studio very often doesn't work on stage with an orchestra, so that the first day a conductor comes to rehearsals in the lead-up to a show is a bit like your parents coming home early to find you getting drunk with your teenage schoolmates on their duty-free Campari. It's only a baton, but you can almost hear the dismay:
"Look at this rubato all over the place! You should be ashamed of yourself!"
"I told you that Boris was a bad influence. I don't care how many pirouettes he can do, you keep in tempo like you've been taught!"
"How dare you help yourself to my presto?! I was saving that for the coda!"
"Now your mother and I are going to try and sort this ballet out. From now on, you'll do as your told and play when I tell you to"

What I learnt from Graham Bond, however, was that it can sometimes the other way around. I have a tendency sometimes to play through music somewhat peremptorily, forgetting how healthy it is to let it breathe. In my early days at ENB, where Graham was my boss, I was also pretty clueless about how to make a pas de deux work between the music and the dancers, and as a result was quite heartless, without meaning to be, about tempo.

Ann Hogben

Woytek Lowski Gillian Cornish John O'Brien Malcolm Williamson Jackie Barratt Pussy (Diana Payne Myers) Christopher Hampson David Wall This is December 22nd in my Dance Inpirations advent calendar
Susie Cooper Daniel Jones Ivan Nagy Wayne Sleep Betty Anderton Harald Krytinar Victor Alvarez Pat Neary
Klaus Beelitz Belinda Quirey Irena Pasaric Mark Morris Thomas Edur Ann Hogben 23 24

Annie at the piano circa 2000. I've got a nicer picture somewhere, which I'll post later. It was to Annie that David Wall sent me to pick up some tips about playing for class when I was floundering about hopelessly at the RAD as a novice dance accompanist back in 1986. Apart from the fact that Annie was a good pianist and accompanist, she was a good choice as a teacher because she had a large repertoire of music for class from popular classics & songs, which made it easy to point at something and say "that's the kind of thing to play for grands battements" or "that's quite nice for adage".

Thomas Edur

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Woytek Lowski Gillian Cornish John O'Brien Malcolm Williamson Jackie Barratt Pussy (Diana Payne Myers) Christopher Hampson David Wall This is December 21st in my Dance Inpirations advent calendar
Susie Cooper Daniel Jones Ivan Nagy Wayne Sleep Betty Anderton Harald Krytinar Victor Alvarez Pat Neary
Klaus Beelitz Belinda Quirey Irena Pasaric Mark Morris Thomas Edur 22 23 24

Thomas Edur on tour in Budapest 1993, doing his 'spy' look. Nearly every picture I have of Tom is like this - he improvises anything but a regular smile for the camera! My website hasn't yet become what I once intended it to be, having been hijacked by exigencies and the mundane, but the fact that it's here at all is thanks to a conversation with Thomas Edur. Some years ago I was chatting to him & Yat Sen Chang in a corridor at a party, having an animated discussion about musicality. It annoyed me at the time - as it still does now - that in some ways, it's not that complicated an issue, despite the ink & frowns that are expended on it. All it needs is for people to address it, and in practical terms, keep music and musicality high on the agenda in the studio - what's complicated & difficult is trying to get it there in the first place. I've met plenty of people whose approach to music, musicality in performance, and sensitivity to music is exemplary - Tom chief amongst them - and yet they are not often called upon to share it or discuss it, except for the occasional insight like this one from Thomas in a Radio 3 interview - "I remember being told when I was eight years old; “If you can sing the melody, then you can dance it.”

Mark Morris

Woytek Lowski Gillian Cornish John O'Brien Malcolm Williamson Jackie Barratt Pussy (Diana Payne Myers) Christopher Hampson David Wall This is December 20th in my Dance Inpirations advent calendar
Susie Cooper Daniel Jones Ivan Nagy Wayne Sleep Betty Anderton Harald Krytinar Victor Alvarez Pat Neary
Klaus Beelitz Belinda Quirey Irena Pasaric Mark Morris 21 22 23 24

Mark Morris in rehearsal at ENB for Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes. Photograph © Asya Verzhbinsky, reproduced with her kind permission. www.asyav-images.com Photo © Asya Verzhbinsky, Reproduced with permission
On a Saturday lunchtime around this time last year, I walked out of the Sadler's Wells stage door & up Rosebery Avenue feeling like Julie Andrews in the Sound of Music. I'd just played my first class for Mark Morris & his company (I'd already played for Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes in 2003, but never for a class), and it was - I'm not exagerrating - a mindblowing experience.

I guess you have to understand that ballet class is something that has bugged my curiosity ever since I first walked through the doors of the RAD nearly 20 years ago. When I left there 9 months later, I tried to explain to the then director, Julia Farron, that much as I liked dance and was grateful for my job, I was frustrated because I felt that class could be so much more than it currently was, but there seemed to be no way of doing it.

Irena Pasarić

Woytek Lowski Gillian Cornish John O'Brien Malcolm Williamson Jackie Barratt Pussy (Diana Payne Myers) Christopher Hampson David Wall This is December 19th in my Dance Inpirations advent calendar
Susie Cooper Daniel Jones Ivan Nagy Wayne Sleep Betty Anderton Harald Krytinar Victor Alvarez Pat Neary
Klaus Beelitz Belinda Quirey Irena Pasaric 20 21 22 23 24

Irena Pasaric from Croatian National Ballet (HNK). This picture is taken from the HNK site and links directly to Irena's biography there

If it weren't for Irena Pasarić, I would probably still hate Swan Lake as much as I hated it before I met her. Playing for rehearsals of the Act II pas de deux is often an experience similar to what Richard goes through in Keeping up appearances when he has Hyacinth as a passenger: "Slow down! Mind that arabesque! Don't go so fast! Watch that pirouette! Stop! Don't stop! Now, stop now! Not now, when I say so!"

Belinda Quirey (1912 - 1996)

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Woytek Lowski Gillian Cornish John O'Brien Malcolm Williamson Jackie Barratt Pussy (Diana Payne Myers) Christopher Hampson David Wall This is December 18th in my Dance Inpirations advent calendar
Susie Cooper Daniel Jones Ivan Nagy Wayne Sleep Betty Anderton Harald Krytinar Victor Alvarez Pat Neary
Klaus Beelitz Belinda Quirey 19 20 21 22 23 24

Louis XIV as Apollo in The Ballet Royal de la Nuit, from the Library of Congress exhibition, Treasures from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France

It says a lot about Belinda that the story I'd most like to tell about her famous classes in Historical Dance at the RAD is unprintable. Her definition of dance history was broad enough to include occasionally testing the students' knowledge of the extramarital shennanigans of ballet stars. I think she wanted to make sure they didn't get overwhelmed by the superficial glamour of the royal institutions with which they came regularly in contact. In the middle of an explanation of contrapposto she might suddenly say in her deep voice which owed something to Edith Evans, "Now, my darling treasures, which star of the Royal Ballet famously...."

Klaus Beelitz

bode.jpg
This is Dec. 17th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th 15th 16th

One of the advantages of dance being a silent art is that what two people sense or read in each other, and the ethereal conversation that happens between dancer and dancer, dancer and musician, teacher & pianist is so much more interesting, poignant, fleeting, deep and moving than anything one might say with words. As a musician in class, you often end up reading people and 'talking' to them and they with you, with music. You might never actually talk to them, but at some level you've had a musical encounter more direct and meaningful than a thousand conversations.

Maybe I read it all wrong, but when I first met Klaus, who was ballet master at the Deutsche Oper Berlin (now subsumed under the Staatsballett-Berlin), I got the feeling that maybe he got a bit tired and overwhelmed by the predominantly English culture that had taken over there. Rehearsals were conducted entirely in English, there were only a handful of Germans in the company, and with a couple of exceptions, most of the foreigners couldn't be bothered to learn German. As an example of how bizarre that situation was, one pianist there had spent time and money in her native Azerbaijan learning German in preparation for the move to Berlin, only to be berated by one of the anglophone staff because she 'only' spoke German (rather than English).

Pat (Patricia) Neary

Part of the Acropolis in Athens (from an ENB tour in 2003) This is Dec. 16th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th 15th

I haven't got a picture of Pat Neary, but since the first time we met we were working on Apollo, and the second time on Agon, something with an ancient Greek theme seemed appropriate. Also, there's something about Pat's pedigree as a dancer & teacher of the Balanchine repertoire, her humour, wit, intelligence, and understanding of life, ballet, art & people that make me think of her as a kind of living oracle.

Victor Alvarez

Victor Alvarez in Berlin sometime in the summer of 1997 This is Dec. 15th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th 14th

Saying that someone is your favourite dancer or the best dancer you ever saw is difficult, because some people are your favourites in particular roles, or new people come along who challenge the position, or you just don't want to be forced to choose between equals. But if my life depended on it, I'd be willing to say that Victor Alvarez is my favourite male dancer, and, for my taste, probably the best dancer I've ever had the pleasure of working with, and without any doubt at all, the most musical.

Woytek Lowski once said to Jo (Josephine) Jewkes after her performance of the Prelude in Les Sylphides "Well, once again, you ruined the show - you were so good you made everyone else on stage look terrible". In the same spirit, Victor has made my life a misery at times: when you know that something can be done as effortlessly, spectacularly and musically as Victor does it, and with such friendly charm and good naturedness, it makes so much else that you do seem like a bad marriage.

Harald Krytinar

Harald Krytinar. This links to a picture of me & Harald in our studio in Berlin in 1996. This is Dec. 14th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th 13th

I am thankful to Harald and glad to know him for many reasons. I met him in Germany, where we were both employed at the Deutsche Oper Berlin (he currently dances with Ballet Preljocaj ) . He's an instinctive musician; one of those dancers who hears music so acutely that if you decided to articulate four semiquavers differently today than yesterday, or to put in an extra rubato, he'd notice, and raise a cheerful eyebrow at you as he moved a limb or tendon in a correspondingly different way. It's those dancers who make being a dance musician worthwhile - well, let's face it, they make watching dance worthwhile.

As a musician, dancer, sound technician and friend, we had many conversations about music for dance in the various contexts one finds it in a theatre - classes, rehearsals, performances; the problems with conductors, the problems of stage monitors, tempo, sound equipment, cuing shows. As with so many other people in this calendar, I owe much of my understanding of dance and music to these conversations.

Elizabeth (Betty) Anderton

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flowers.gif This is Dec. 13th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th 12th

The ballet world is that small, and Betty is that well-known amongst dancers that if you say 'Betty' to most dancers, it means Betty Anderton. The fact that I can't find a single recent picture of her teaching, either in my own collection, or on the web, illustrates perfectly my motivation for this advent calendar. Considering the thousands of wonderful classes and rehearsals she has taken for probably thousands of dancers over the last few decades, and that those classes and rehearsals have been behind many of the greatest performers and performances you have seen, it is monstrously unfair and unbalanced that you can't find more than a handful of sites which just mention her in passing.

Wayne Sleep

This is Dec. 12th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th
wayne-small.jpg
I don't think I have ever worked so hard or so intensely as I have on the many, many projects that Wayne and I have done together. He's a genius, and geniuses set off litle whirlwinds of activity around them wherever they go and whatever they do. Wayne's mind moves so quickly, that it's dangerous to leave the back-of-an-envelope near him in case he has devised a show, a tour and a gala while you were putting the kettle on. As an example, when I was working as his assistant on the World of Classical Ballet tour, we met after the day's rehearsals to top-line a number which involved arranging a medley of classical & folk tunes into a five minute collage. It didn't take much longer than five minutes to decide how to do it. "Fabulous...And if we can have that tomorrow...." said Wayne, as I waved goodbye.

Ivan Nagy

ivan_1.jpg

This is Dec. 11th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th

I have a huge soft spot for Ivan, not just because he is one of the nicest people I've ever met, but also because he was the first director I worked for as a full-time company pianist. In that capacity, he presided over my debut performance with ENB which was playing for Apollo in Malvern, and I still treasure the chukkas card and present that he and his wife Marilyn gave me. There are only a handful of people who would realise how important & nerve-wracking that first performance would be; for a director to be bothered enough to send a card & a present as well is extraordinary.

Daniel Jones

Dan holding a copy of the Studio Series Intuitions CD Vol 3: it's him on the front of the CD.

This is Dec. 10th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th

The photograph shows Dan holding a copy of Studio Series Intuitions Vol. 3: he's the person in the picture on the front, and is currently the new face of all the Intuitions CDs produced by the RAD. I had no idea this was going to happen - I just suggested that they redesigned, and the next thing I know is, there's my best mate Dan on the front. Spooky: we were on tour in Brazil back in 1992/3, just after Dan joined ENB; we had one day in Sao Paolo to look around, and Dan and I spent most of it looking round a market and talking. We've been friends ever since, and music has played an enormous part in that, so it's amazingly appropriate that they should have chosen that image.

Susie Cooper

susie_small.jpg This is Dec. 9th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th

Susie is another one of those people that I seem to have had a non-stop conversation with about dance & music since the day we met, which was some time early in 1986. She taught choreography at the RAD, and was what you might call the 'token contemporary' teacher, having come from Rambert and therefore partial to the odd lean sideways and music with wrong notes in. I'm being facetious: if there's one thing that is guaranteed to get me and Susie worked up into a lather, it's the idiocy of trying to make rigid distinctions between 'contemporary dance' and ballet, or 'classical' and 'modern' music.

David Wall

Ballerina Daria Klimentova showing her iPod Nano to ballet master David Wall in the lower studio at ENB. For more detail, see the end of this article This is Dec. 8th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th

David Wall with Daria Klimentova +iPod

I've forgotten quite how terrible my first attempts at playing for class were nearly 20 years ago, and what forms that terribleness took. What I do remember, though, as if it only happened this morning, was the effect it had on one of the poor sods I was playing for. I think David Wall, who was a director (with Julia Farron) of the RAD at the time, must have suffered my playing once or twice in silence, but this time, he couldn't hide his impatience any longer. When I saw him coming towards me in the corridor after the class, I was absolutely terrified. He seemed to be shaking, sweating and glowering, as if one false move on my part would have made him punch my lights out.

Christopher Hampson

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chris.jpg This is Dec. 7 th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
I've been dreading the day when I get to Chris in this advent calendar, because I simply don't know where to start, and having started, I could probably continue writing until I retire. We've been friends and colleagues since 1992, and without a doubt, he is both my greatest friend, greatest influence, and greatest inspiration. We started working, talking and laughing when he first joined ENB, and haven't stopped since. Even when we haven't been working together, we've usually found an excuse to come along to each others' projects anyway, to the extent that it's quite difficult to remember who was really supposed to be working on what. In any case, we both enjoy our work so much that none of it really feels like work. He has made me laugh longer & harder that anyone else on the planet; the closest I have come to death was driving down Kingsway, and remembering something that he'd said earlier that evening; just the memory of it made me laugh so much I had to pull over before I crashed.

Pussy (Diana Payne Myers)

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whodasmall.jpgThis is Dec. 6th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
Sometime in the spring of 1987, I was playing for an evening professional open class at the Urdang studios in Covent Garden. I noticed the most wonderful dancer at the barre - wonderful, because she seemed to respond to the slightest nuance in the music, with tenutos, staccatos, phrasings & rubatos all equisitely played out in her movement. She knew even the most esoteric tunes, and a lot of them made her laugh.

Jackie Barratt

Kevin Richmond (L) & Jacqui Barratt (R) on stage at the opera house in Budapest, Hungary in 1992 (I think). The quality's dreadful, but I love the picture This is Dec. 5th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd 4th

How different life might have been if Jackie hadn't been doing the Professional Dancer's Teaching Certificate at the RAD in 1986 when I had my first job there. I played for some of her classes, we got on, she liked the way I played, I liked the way she taught, and one Sunday afternoon, she invited me to meet some people from ENB (or Festival Ballet, as it was then), including one of the pianists. Sooner or later, I was invited to play for a company class, and over the next three years, I freelanced at ENB and fell in love with the company, its dancers, and everything it stood for.

Is it any wonder? After class one day, I stayed to watch Lynn Seymour rehearsing Anastasia since I had a couple of hours to kill. One evening, Peter Schaufuss asked me if I would mind terribly staying on another hour so that he and Lynn could rehearse Romeo & Juliet. One legend after an other walked in and out of those studios, and although it was often years before I realised just how lucky I was to have been there, there was a constant electrical charge from all the talent & artistry.

Malcolm Williamson (1931-2003)

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This is Dec. 4th in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd 3rd Malcolm Williamson in France in 1982
My first experience of Malcolm Williamson's music was as a bassist in the Hampshire County Youth Orchestra. We played the Suite from Our Man in Havana which to me was the most exciting piece I'd played in. It was sexy, brash, ballsy, clever, dancy, and with a kind of emotional soar in it that left you tingling on the edge of your seat. There was this thrilling modulation in the middle-eight of one of the numbers which was so weird, remote & sudden, you wondered how on earth he was going to get out of it again and back to the tune. The journey back to the home key was a bit like a turbulent flight - sudden plunges which were terrifying and thrilling at the same time. I loved this music so much, I wanted to eat it until it made me sick, and then go back for more.

So when, about 6 years later, I was working for the publishers Josef Weinberger, and they said Malcolm Williamson was coming in for a meeting, I did the sensible thing, rushed out of the building and hid in the café across the road until he'd gone. I was so in awe of the man, I thought I might just self-combust if I was introduced to him, or just stand their tongue-tied and gaga.

John O'Brien

This is Dec. 3rd in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st 2nd
johnny_smaller.jpg In the late summer of 1986, I decided that the RAD wasn't for me after all. I have to be grateful to one of their examiners, to whom I poured my heart out over several G&T's on the train back from Newcastle after a gruelling exam tour - she said "Resign now while it still bothers you. If you stay a few months longer, you'll 'sear' yourself to the pain, start to lose your drive and end up one of those people who 'get by' in their job because they've taught themselves not to care any more". It was brilliant advice: I took it, and resigned.

Due to some emergency or other, in my last couple of weeks at the RAD I was asked to play for John O'Brien, whose classes up until then had been considered too complex or fast for someone as green as me, but this was an emergency and the view was, we'd both have to cope as best we could with each other under the circumstances.

Cope?! We had a ball. From the minute he started the class, I felt that if only all ballet had been like this, I would have stayed in it. John seemed to need music for his class, rather than that strange recipe of metre & anxiety that other teachers demanded. His exercises felt like dancing, rather than exercises. His manner, his voice, his rhythm and his warmth as a human being were totally different to anything I'd experienced, and - darn it - they'd saved this one til last, once I'd decided to leave.

Gillian Cornish

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This is Dec. 2nd in my dance inspirations advent calendar. Opened already: December 1st

My mate Gilly! Links directly to her Pilates studioOn January 1st 2006 it will be 20 years to the day that I met Gillian (Gilly) Cornish at the Commonwealth Institute in London, and in some ways, if it hadn't been for her, I probably wouldn't be doing what I do now.

The occasion was the RAD annual 'Assembly' (now called a conference), and I was there because I started my first ever job in dance on 1/01/1986 at the RAD. With typical Australian friendliness, Gilly was the first person to grab my arm, say "you must be the new guy", give me a cup of coffee, and fill me in on who was who and explain to me the curious world I'd just entered. To say that Gilly kept me sane is an understatement - we became best mates within days, if not minutes of meeting, and our barbecues, sunday lunches and bottles of wine were not only fun, but they were where I learnt about playing for dance. Having worked with ABT & Festival as a choreologist, she really knew her stuff, and like many notators, knew how to explain dance to musicians. She taught me all kinds of vital things about the quality of music needed for different areas of class; how to recognise when dancers were just dealing with their own problems, rather than having a problem with you.

This portrait of Woytek Lowski is taken from the Teatr Wielki site and directly linked to it. This is part of my dance inspirations advent calendar.

When I met Woytek in the late 80s/early 90s there wasn't a ballet star around that didn't adore and revere him. Fluent in English, Polish, Russian, French (and Italian?), a graduate of the Vaganova Academy, dancer with Béjart , and an enthusiastic connoisseur of all kinds of culture from opera to The Golden Girls, he was intelligent, kind, funny, learned, sensitive - you name it, he had it. Like many central europeans I've known, he had an integrity and honour that saw straight through pretension & dishonesty, and respected talent & hard work. I didn't realise at the time that the world wasn't full of Woyteks - I thought every ballet company had one. It was only when he died, far too young, in 1995, that I realised how fortunate I had been to work with him so closely.

My 2005 advent calendar: dance inspirations

As a dance musician, hardly a day goes past when I don't call on the wisdom & inspiration of some of the fantastic people I've known & worked with in the last 20 years in the dance world. I've been toying with the idea of doing web-tributes/appreciations of some of these people for ages, as a way of both giving thanks, and also redressing the epistemological balance. So here it is, my Advent 2005 calendar of dance inspirations.

They're in no particular order, some will be 2 lines long, others 200. I'm sure it won't be a definitive list, and of course, it's a very personal one.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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