“Strictly” dancing to the music of time
- By Lesley Nadel
- 05 April 2022
A lecture exploring the wide-ranging music chosen by ballet choreographers through the years – 'It’s not Just Tchaikovsky', is on 11th April in Sedgeford.
Since the earliest origins of cave paintings in India dating to circa 8000 BCE, dance has been part of the human story. The varied forms exist in all cultures. Dancers have performed for their local audiences for centuries - belly dancing in Egypt, Hawaiian hula, Tahitian Ote’a and Maori Haka. Asia has a rich history of dance and Chinese dance is traced back at least 3000 years.
Dance can take us from normal levels of experience to spiritual rituals. Bonds within communities can be forged and even though styles have adapted over centuries, the act of the dance is still a very expressive art form. The body moves rhythmically, often to music. Sometimes the dance is choreographed to express beauty and emotion, other times simply to connect with people. All ages dance, from highly trained professionals to amateurs, and some of us just move and shake.
The simple and repeated movements of folk dances led to social dancing, and in Europe the folk dances of the Middle Ages became formal ballroom dancing. A whole new world developed from the Renaissance as dancing masters instructed courtiers and the wealthy upper classes with the proper steps to attend court dances. As women’s fashion allowed greater freedom of movement, so did social dancing become livelier. In the mid-nineteenth century the waltz was beginning to reach global popularity. By the beginning of the twentieth century two-person social dancing was beginning acceptance as the norm.
Dance has become the regular pleasure in the lives of a wide variety of people; ballroom still retains its rich history from the Renaissance, and jitterbugging and disco, seen from the 50s and 70s, also originated from earlier ballroom. Now more complex rhythms and movements have become popular with salsa, cha-cha, tango and rumba, and in the last fifty years hip hop has taken off worldwide with its roots in black America.
A major influence in dance is undoubtedly ballet which became an art in the eighteenth century. Ballet companies were formed all over the world and many modern masterpieces and timeless classics were created. In the twentieth century modern choreographers such as Balanchine have created new forms of performance dance. But all choreographers need music to set the mood or atmosphere for the dance as it will decide what the audience sees and experiences. Music and dance have similar close structures: tempo, rhythm, meaning, etc. One discipline explains the other and vice versa. Importantly, ballet music will tell the story directly and with detail. Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet, The Nutcracker, refers to the music itself, as well as the dance moves. The music assists the dancer to interpret the movements in an individual and unique way within the requirements of the choreography. Many classical ballets are performed with a classical music accompaniment.
The Arts Society Northwest Norfolk is hosting a lecture at Sedgeford Village Hall on 11th April 2022 at 2.00 pm exploring the wide-ranging music chosen by ballet choreographers through the years – It’s not Just Tchaikovsky. This month’s talk by The Arts Society accredited lecturer, Nigel Bates, will include several performance videos. For further details on the lecture and how to join our Society, visit www.theartssocietynwnorfolk.org.uk