In the dim dark past (it seems like aeons ago) I did some quite serious dance training; classical ballet training and contemporary dance training of the Merce Cunningham/Martha Graham variety. In my mid teens I made a decision not to pursue the dancer’s life, opting instead for a life dedicated to music.
Why? Well, lets be honest, dance training is grueling and I simply didn’t want that life badly enough to endure it. The physical demands made upon a dancers body are so punishing, but more than that, it is also emotionally intense. Great amounts of focus and drive are required to forge a career in dance, the competition is stiff and body image issues particularly for adolescents are often amplified way beyond the pressures of ordinary teendom. Then there is the emotional commitment required to play each role. The role of Giselle, for example, is as exhausting physically as it is emotionally. You’ve really got to want this career to endure all this. I know, however, that the rewards are well worth the effort if it’s what you really want to do.
As for me, these days I may not have the strength and flexibility that I used to have, but I still have good posture/alignment, spatial awareness, coordination and so on. Above all, I think I still have the ability to express myself through movement which is, I think, the most important thing about being a dancer.
I had a midnight epiphany last night. I had the sudden thought that perhaps I can make good use of those years of hard physical and emotional slog. Over the last few months I’ve been trying to think of ideas for a performance event that is going to set me apart from other pianists. I think incorporating some movement into my show is the key.
Me dancing. And playing. How many instrumentalists are going there these days?
Well, it’s been done badly before. Very, very badly. I’m thinking the hilariously cheesy mock-folk of that group Celtic Woman with that annoying violinist who prances around with a plastic smile. Hm. I’m going to need exactly the right choreographer (fortunately I have one in mind!). I could even make a dance film, myself and some ‘proper’ dancers (that company DV8 are my inspiration here). My show would need to incorporate live performance of the works on my album plus some really solid remixes in the style of that excellent Glass Cuts remix album that came out a few years ago, joined by effective, interesting sound design into one seamless exciting performance experience.
Now I just need to find choreographer, a film-maker, a DJ, a lighting designer, a costume designer. I’ve got about half of that sorted. Argh, I’m tired just thinking about it.
A choreographer, a painter, a sculptor, a video artist, a photographer or two… With the help of the creatives I know, I think I can create a performance piece based on the music of Philip Glass, that is really something. How lucky I am to know such clever people.
Also, hooray for a brisk walk home in the late summer evening. There’s nothing like it for bringing on a little inspiration!