I am softly landing into summer holiday mood, leaving a rather turbulent semester behind me, yet with many new interesting openings to explore during the next academic year. It’s midsummer week and raining, as would be expected in our arctic regions. However, this text will not be about anything as mundane as icy rain and bad weather, it’s going to be about the power of live music. And first and foremost it is a tribute to an anonymous pianist who has been embellishing my ballet morning classes for the past weeks.
The other day I walked into the dance studio after having suffered from a common summer flu. Thus I was one week late into starting my summer classes. It is a familiar studio, yet, something was radically different that particular morning in early June! There was a man playing a Chopin waltz on piano! The archetypal pianist incarnate, I would dare to say. This turned out to be only the warm-up for the morning class. I very soon realized that he was not there for random practice but for the purpose of accompanying the entire class. Such fantastic music, apparently improvised without sheet music. And I must say that it is so much more joyful to do the morning class routine to live music than to a CD. An accompanying pianist can play with tempi, accentuation and phrasing and there is a constant dialogue between him and the teacher in order to achieve the perfect balance between music and movement.
Since that first morning this stunning man has been there every time. By now we are spoiled, how will we ever be able to go back to doing our pliés and tendus to plain CD music? We are very well aware of the temporariness of this arrangement, since we have recently learnt that the musician is not actually employed by the dance school. He is playing the piano for his own joy, to counter-balance his job as restaurant musician. This makes us appreciate and cherish the treat of live music even more.
When I started my ballet lessons back in 1975, we always had a pianist accompanying the classes. However, I claim that I have not seen a pianist in a private dance school for over a quarter of a century. Apparently, it’s too expensive to hire a musician. Yet, music is such an organic part of a classical ballet class that something essential gets lost when a musician is replaced by a CD player.
But here I am for the time being, enjoying my summer morning ballet lessons to fantastic music. Yes, it takes some self-management skills to get up at 7.45 during your summer holiday, yet, I am amply rewarded by the tones from Bach to contemporary jazzy beat once I get to the studio. Thank you Mr. Pianist for sharing your talent with us, I can already tell that these dance classes are going to be the highlight of my summer holiday.
I would love to include a picture of the gorgeous man, however, disturbing class with your mobile phone is strictly against ballet lesson etiquette. Moreover, I want to keep this memory primarily auditive. Thus my readers have to be content with me striking an arabesque on the cliffs of Mustasaari Island. One of the rare days it was not raining in June!