Understanding the technical intricacies of the ballet world requires a deep collaboration with the music world. Ballet directors, ballet masters, conductors and musicians specializing in the ballet world should work together to create something unparalleled that allows artists (dancers and musicians) to express their talent.

 CD Labels and the Ballet World: A New Project Together

One of the most integral elements of a ballet performance is the music. It can be played live or, as it is often the case, with CDs. But the unfortunate truth is that almost all the ballet repertoire music CDs distributed are recorded as a “concert version”. The result is a major disconnect between the artistic demand of the ballet world and the recorded music available in the market. Often it’s almost impossible to dance to the music because the tempos are not designed for dancing. The recorded music comes with many limitations, which restrict the artist’s creativity and expression. Imagine dancers working on variations, pas de deux and corps de ballets music from great ballets such as “Swan Lake”, “Giselle”, “La Bayadère”, “Raymonda”, “Le Corsaire”, “Sleeping Beauty” fighting to keep time with the recorded CDs’ tempos, usually very quick.

Was Minkus thinking to compose “La Bayadère” as a concert performance? And what about Tchaikovsky’s three masterpieces? If  they had been alive do you think they would have agreed to hear their compositions recorded as if they were a symphony? And what about Marius Petipa’s reaction listening to these kind of recordings? Would he be happy? They would see people forced to use audio-editing softwares to find the  speed that suits them, which could cause a substandard quality of music sound and, above all, can compromise the dancers’ performance.

To resolve this issue, it’s time to start new productions of CDs of all the most famous ballets, where orchestra conductors collaborate with ballet directors and balletmasters, for finding the right tempo and the right interpretation of each music piece. This is essential for creating good quality music that aligns with the artistic visions of the ballet world. With the new production of CDs, ballet companies, academies, and schools can use music designed explicitly for their daily work, rehearsals, and performances. They just have to choose the best version according to the “musical interpretation” of an artistic team composed by ballet directors, ballet masters and conductors, without having any problem with the tracks speed, just following their personal taste. So, for example, they could choose between the Royal Ballet “Swan Lake” version or Paris Opera or Stuttgart Ballet and so on. In this way there would also be the possibility to have a new great generation of orchestra conductors, very much specialized in conducting for ballet!

CDs created this way will help bridge the gap between the ballet world and the recorded music industry, and will create more demand for CDs in the market. This kind of collaboration will represent a revolution in ballet repertoire CD production. Music labels must join hands with the ballet world to create a bright future for dancers, students, and the music industry as a whole.

Ballet Pianists Improvising and Composing: Tribute to Original Music for Ballet World

In the world of classical dance, the daily ballet class is the cornerstone of dancers’ education, from the moment they take their first steps in the studio until the last day of their career. Perhaps the ballet class, with its barre and center work, remains forever in the heart, mind, and especially “in the body” of a dancer. This extraordinary daily ritual relies on the use of music played by special musicians: Ballet Pianists.

But who are these pianists? And what kind of music do they play? The role of Ballet Pianists is essential in the dance world, as they provide the music that inspires dancers and helps them to express themselves better. It’s a job that requires not only great technical and musical skills but also a deep understanding of the technique and the needs of dancers and their movements. Pianists must be able to follow the teacher’s instructions and adapt to the dancer’s level, playing music that is both challenging and stimulating, but also supportive and encouraging.

Massimiliano Greco 

During a ballet class, music belonging to many different genres and styles can be played, from classical music to ballet music repertoire, jazz and modern music. That’s true, but let’s focus on Ballet Pianists who are also capable of improvising and composing specific music for each exercise of ballet class. These pianists are a special category, and sometimes their compositions are so beautiful that they deserve to be listened to outside of the ballet class. When they improvise, they create music that fits all the dynamic details needed by teachers. The result is not just a background accompaniment but a vital part of the dance experience, influencing the dancers’ emotions and inspiring their creativity. Sometimes they also create specific musical forms from scratch that refer to the phrases of the movements and the sequence of the dance steps, and that are very clear, interesting and logical in their development. It’s music that is a bit elusive, deserving of discovery even by those not familiar with the field.

So how can we listen to this music? Usually, these compositions are included in CDs created specifically for ballet classes. They are invented during the daily work, inspired by the dancers’ movement and then elaborated and arranged for a final recordable version. But it often happens that some pianists improvise small masterpieces but then don’t remember what they played, and hundreds of magnificent compositions are lost in oblivion.

What can be done to solve this problem? It would be great to record improvised music every day, to not miss the opportunity to remember melodies and rhythms that can then be re-elaborated and become beautiful original compositions. Recording pianists during ballet class must become a habit. But not only! All the existing original compositions in the numerous CDs for classical ballet classes spread throughout the world should be grouped together in a large database, a new enormous audio library containing all the files of these compositions. Maybe it would be the birth of a new musical genre, a new “musical literature,” available to everyone, not just ballet teachers or ballet masters, but to anyone who wishes to listen to good music.

So would you like to start exploring and listening to original music composed by Ballet Pianists? You’ll be surprised!

Massimiliano GRECO

(Photos privat archive)