If I could implore you, please watch this video to see a mind-stretching combination of dance and computer animation:
What a perfect combination of art forms, where one literally envelops the other. The computer animation literally augments and moves with the motions the dancers are making. Amazing!
Now, being a musician, I’m always trying to see what parallels can be drawn to music, and what lessons can be learned. Certainly good dance music should envelop and augment the dance, just as the light particles in Pleiades enveloped and enhanced the motions of the dancers. So what lessons can be learned here?
I’d like to suggest to you, as a ballet pianist, that the musical rhythms and accents that occur between the beats are as important — if not more important — than those that actually occur on the beats. Think of the Pleiades video above: most of the particles had a lifespan that extended at least a few moves beyond when they originated. For me, it helps me to see and understand moves I otherwise would’ve missed. In the case of Pleiades, it is the particles that trail behind the dancers that enhance the performance.
Now let’s make the jump to music. Oftentimes, it is the rhythmic accents that trail behind a dancer’s motions that enhances their performance the most. Sometimes, during a glissé exercise, I imagine that the dancer is standing in a puddle of paint, and than when they flick their foot outward, the paint splats against the wall a split second later. I try to reflect this in the music by placing a rhythmic accent at the point when the paint would’ve ‘hit the wall,’ often an 8th or 16th note after the dancer’s action. So you can see, that many times, the most effective way to highlight a dancer’s action is to accentuate it immediately afterward, like the trailing particles in Pleiades.
This is a neat way of thinking, and can be applied to almost any motion of dance, whether sharp or smooth.
- Read the feet, divide the beat, by Jonathan Still.