So, yesterday I had the privilege of teaching a class on expressive singing for the summer intensive at Act Too Studio, heavily influenced by Dalcroze Eurhythmics methodology as well as my own personal experiences with understanding music through movement. I am never still when I sing alone in the studio, because moving with the music is a significant part of the way that I work with a piece (especially one that’s new), and I believe that this kind of whole-body immersion is key to my own expressiveness as a singer.
As a way of introducing Act Too students to this concept, I first asked them to listen to a recording of Tchaikovsky’s famous waltz from the ballet Sleeping Beauty. After they’d listened and we’d talked about how the music made them feel and what they thought it was about, I then played the piece again, with instructions for them to dance to it. I chose this piece because I knew it would likely be familiar to many of them, and because we could then use the Disney song adaptation (“Once Upon a Dream”) to immediately apply what we’d learned by experiencing the music with our whole bodies. Of course, since I didn’t think I could expect a group of teenagers to bravely perform interpretive dance to Tchaikovsky if I wasn’t willing to do it myself, I danced along with them.
My friends… there is simply no purer joy in the world than dancing with abandon to the waltz from Sleeping Beauty. I mean it. Try it for yourselves. I challenge you to not feel perfect exhilaration and carefree, childlike glee while dancing to this music. Go on. Try it.
As the class continued, we also danced to songs the students were working together for the week, including “A Boy Like That/I Have a Love” from West Side Story, “Matchmaker” from Fiddler on the Roof, and “Wick” from The Secret Garden—all of which were wonderful, wonderful fun. But I have to admit, it was Tchaikovsky that immersed me most thoroughly and had me longing to dance to it again.
Later on, as I talked to Paul about how much fun it all had been, he remarked that this is why he had loved dancing at the local goth/industrial night so much… and it made me wonder why I didn’t feel the same way about club dancing. I mean, I’ve enjoyed going out dancing from time-to-time over the years, but it never made me feel the way I did yesterday. It never left me painfully longing for more.
Then I realized, it was the music. What filled me with so much joy as I flitted and jumped around the non-air-conditioned studio yesterday afternoon was the nature of the music itself. My problem wasn’t dance clubs, specifically. It was that they simply don’t have dance clubs for people like me. There isn’t any kind of public venue dedicated to providing grown adults with the opportunity to dance around like ten-year-olds to classical ballet music, or any music of the sort.
Somebody, start one? I’d come every night, I swear. 🙂