The Harmony Between Ballet Dance and Music

The Harmony Between Ballet Dance and Music

Since it was created, ballet dance always has an intimate connection with the music. When one presents a performance on stage, a certain beat goes with it to give an added enthusiasm. We, human beings, actually carry a natural melodic pulse wherever we go. Our speaking, walking and breathing are all rhythmical. The ballet dance is also with movements that have a specific technique. So its relationship is seemingly inevitable.

One of the leading personalities in the 17th century, Jean Baptiste Lully, was not just choreographer but also a composer. Thus any major productions are never with an accompanying piece. With the advent of theaters in the 18th century, serious lyricists and instrumentalists turned away from creating music for ballet dance. They were attracted instead in making for ballroom dance such as waltz, polka, polonaise, march, czardas and mazurka. Such left only little room for innovation and mediocrity was more of the aftermath rather than avoiding it. It continued until the 19th century except for a few exceptions such as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky who was responsible for the Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Onegin and Nutcraker.

Not until 20th century, there was already a huge acceptance of the ballet dance as an intelligent art form. It was the dawning of a great revival of music. It was also at that time where the compositions of Frederic Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Franz Liszt, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frideric Handel, Franz Joseph Haydn, Antonio Vivaldi, Arcangelo Corelli and Hector Berlioz, were now used by choreographers of the ballet dance. There was a strict enforcement by theatres where composers had to adhere with the deadlines and cater to their bureaucratic demands. Such working conditions deterred a lot of geniuses.

The musical conception of Igor Stravinsky and George Balanchine supported much of the human movements in the ballet dance. The sophistication and rhythmic irregularities combined makes one look at the ballet dance and listen to the music in a whole new way. Neither dictates the other, but instead they both challenged and enhanced. Another collaboration more experimental though equally important has been that of two contemporary Americans, choreographer Merce Cunningham and composer John Cage.

A lot believe that the most of the choreographers, who are also composers, are those who make the ballet dance movements follow the rhythm exactly. Any neophyte can do that but it would be so dull. Skilled choreographers want their performances to express more than the piece itself. Instead of being legalistic, they arrange steps for the ballet dance that goes with the longer phrases of melody. Choreographers even ask their dancers to go against the flow of music to generate special touches and dramatic effects. The formation of music for the ballet dance pushed composers to be very innovative and ingenious.

Today, its not such a wonder why music for ballet dance have been considered timeless classics because of its superb and unique complexity.

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