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Accompanying ballet classes (Read 9113 times)

Offline rnu

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Accompanying ballet classes
« on: March 02, 2007, 02:59:13 AM »
I am interested in accompanying ballet classes. Do I have to improvise or just read the music given by the ballet teacher?

Offline elspeth

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Re: Accompanying ballet classes
«Reply #1 on: March 02, 2007, 09:13:33 AM »
Depends on the class. If it's a children's group they may like to give you music to play so it's stuff the children know. If it's a show rehearsal, they'll obviously want the music they're using in the show. If it's classes at a higher level, improvising is fine.

However... the single most important thing is something with nice strong beats. You usually have to hammer out the strong beats in every bar - you are primarily there to help the dancers keep in time, they're not really interested in what tune you're playing. Equally pick pieces that lend themselves to that. Syncopated jazz rhythms without 'obvious' beats are bad.

Learning a few of the basic ballet terms wouldn't hurt so you have a vague idea what they're doing. Most experienced teachers will give their class the exercise and the most direction they'll usually give you is how many beats in a bar they want.

I work in theatres and know a few ballet pianists... they play all sorts of stuff. Carols at Christmas, nursery rhymes, songs from musicals, famous classical pieces, TV themes, pop songs... I have a very fond memory of seeing a professional ballet company working out to the strains of 'Skippy the Kangaroo'...

There are books of 'suitable' ballet music available... but once you've got bored of that, as long as the teacher's ok with it you can make it up as you go along.
Go you big red fire engine!

Offline pianowolfi

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Re: Accompanying ballet classes
«Reply #2 on: March 02, 2007, 06:20:32 PM »
I once had to substitute a ballet pianist at the Theatre. It was a complete desaster. This is a very specialized job, at least when you do it for professional dancers. I would have needed to improvise EVERYTHING. Most important is to always play 8 beat phrases. Then they are happy. And you have to do this in EVERY speed and EVERY stile. I showed up with a bunch of music under my arm and they already looked very irritaded. I asked the coach what they would do and he just said " We move". that was all. Then he started to count on 8 and I was supposed to play. I had NO clue at all. It was just a nightmare. I will NEVER do that again lol.  ;D ;D

Offline rnu

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Re: Accompanying ballet classes
«Reply #3 on: March 02, 2007, 10:06:29 PM »
Thank you both for sharing helpful information and experiences. As far as suitable ballet music, any books that you may recommend? I think I need to equip myself a lot more than I thought.

Offline pianowolfi

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Re: Accompanying ballet classes
«Reply #4 on: March 03, 2007, 01:10:59 AM »
here you can listen to some very beautiful short samples by Miro Magloire, a famous dancer and ballet pianist


http://www.gardetanz-musik.com/assets/s2dmain.html?http://www.gardetanz-musik.com/501210968a0b3510e/50121097030d4bf04/50121097030d5e519.html


I love to listen to this music even though I don't want to play for ballet classes again.

Here

http://www.dancebooks.co.uk/catalog/pianoscoresclass.asp

you can order some particular sheet music for ballet classes if you wish. I have bought three books of music there but at the moment I can't find them so I can't tell you which ones :P

This is a random blog I came across while searching. It might be interesting in relation to your subject but only in parts

http://musicphotolife.blogspot.com/2007/01/ballet-pianist-anyone.html

Ok I hope this helps a bit :)



Offline elspeth

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Re: Accompanying ballet classes
«Reply #5 on: March 03, 2007, 10:52:26 PM »
If you're lucky enough to live in a town with a theatre which has touring ballet companies you can often go to watch them do their daily class. At the theatre I work in, we offer it either free if you also book to watch the show, or for a nominal fee otherwise - about 5 or so. It'd be useful for you to go watch a few classes - I assume you're familiar with dance or you wouldn't be thinking about this so maybe you already have - but go and concentrate on the pianist rather than the dancer. And if the company are accessible enough - and many are, you'd be surprised what people will say yes to if you ask nicely enough - it may be possible for you to get to have a chat with the pianist about their class music, or with the coach about what they as a teacher want from their pianist.
Go you big red fire engine!

Offline mnmleung

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Re: Accompanying ballet classes
«Reply #6 on: February 21, 2012, 01:02:57 PM »
Thanks for this and other threads about playing for ballet. 

I have just started playing for our local dance school in Brisbane (a weekly class of 90 mins for 3 weeks so far), following the RAD syllabus for Advanced 2. 

I have been reading bits and pieces in "Dance and Music: A Guide to Dance Accompaniment for Musicians and Dance Teachers" by Harriet Cavalli.  I find it very helpful.

Also http://www.roh.org.uk/discover/ballet/glossary.aspx has some useful videos so that I can become familiar with some of the movements.  I am sitting in on a class (they run this twice a week) with the other accompanist so I get to watch and listen (as opposed to try watch and lose my place in the score). 

If anyone has links, advice etc to share, I would be most interested.  Thank you.
learning
Chopin etude op 10 no 6
Chopin mazurka op 24 no 4
Szymanowski prelude op 1 no 1

Offline ipisha

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Re: Accompanying ballet classes
«Reply #7 on: February 12, 2021, 04:14:40 PM »
I recommend downloading PDFs of ballet class music or ordering spiral bound books from https://marinasurgan.ca

Marina is the principal pianist for Canada's National Ballet School and is a world renown expert on playing for ballet class.  She releases her original music in audio and sheet music form for download and it's exceptional.