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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Music: Conducting ballets


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Attanding a huge amount of performances I often experienced that ballets have their own conductors. So from the side of music: what makes conducting a ballet different from operas etc. What are spcific points to be respected? Can anyone give me suggestions?

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Conducting for ballet is a highly specialized skill, and requires the conductor to have the score very much in his/her head, even more than for, say, opera. You can hear what a singer is doing, but the rule for ballet is HEADS UP! You can't conduct while your nose is caught down in the book. The same goes, oddly, for the concertmaster, who has to keep not only the rest of the orchestra in mind, but also the dancers onstage. I remember one horrible night when a conductor keeled over with a heart attack and the concertmaster jumped into place seamlessly, to keep the music going while the conductor was evacuated. (Sad to tell, he didn't make it. Diagnosis was acute myocardial infarction. "He was dead before he hit the floor.") Some ballets are more musically elastic than others, and require the music to accelerate and ritard with the vagaries of the choreography. Others are less so, yet they can't be conducted by a metronome. To my mind, the music is not subservient to the dancing, but both (and more factors) must combine well in order to form an artistic whole. It's a delicate balance, and not for every conductor.

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Oh my gosh, Mel! :offtopic: Talk about the show must go on!! Poor guy! Well if you have to go, I guess it's good that it be while you are doing something you love......

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