At the Crossroads of Movement and Music

By Hannah Young

After decades of use, it’s time to replace our Opera House piano—can you help SF Ballet raise funds for a new piano for class and rehearsals in the Opera House?

Exquisite partnering characterizes some of ballet’s most memorable moments—and not just between dancers. There is magic between a mover and musician, too. Dancing to live music in daily class and rehearsal is indispensable to SF Ballet Company members, to ensure they’re prepared to respond the most musically, and with the most nuance and grace, to the SF Ballet Orchestra in performance. The Opera House piano guides dancers through the last steps of the rehearsal process before they hit the stage.

Both the musicians and dancers of SF Ballet recognize the electric quality that emerges when they work together to create art: “[it’s] a collaboration between the dancer and musician, a physical response in real time,” explains SF Ballet Soloist Julie Rowe. Music Director and Principal Conductor Martin West says that live music is crucial, and that the collaboration builds “an incredible energy when dancers react to live music, unlike anything created when dancers dance to recorded music.” SF

SF Ballet and Orchestra performing Tomasson's The Sleeping Beauty // © Chris Hardy

Like ballet technique, dancing to live music improves with regular practice. Having a piano accompanist with ballet class is “fundamental and necessary,” says Rowe, because “the teacher gives us the steps, [while] the music shows us how to do them in space and time.” West adds, “the dancers need live music in rehearsal is so that they can practice being engaged with music. It’s part of the process of getting everybody ready for performing.” Working with live music in every rehearsal can inspire a deeper level of artistry and engagement. “Dancing to live music makes us better dancers because it forces us to create in real time,” says Rowe, “inspiring integral and honest interpretation.”

SF Ballet dancers taking class on stage // © Chris Hardy

We need your help to keep the music playing onstage—please make a donation and help us buy a new piano.

Header image: Julia Rowe and Myles Thatcher rehearsing Lopez Ochoa’s Guernica // © Erik Tomasson

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