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Introduction

Many pianists may not find it straightforward to accompany a ballet class, since next to free improvisation skills this work requires building up experience and generating suitable musical material as well. The present collection’s goal is to orientate pianists in characteristic properties of music that accompanies the various ballet exercises. Ballet masters often ask accompanying pianists to emphasise certain dance movements during an exercise by giving extra weight to the corresponding musical beat, as well as to obey to the dynamics superimposed by the different types of exercises (plié, battement tendu, adagio, etc.), or to apply certain features of piano music at some places (such as staccato or legato).

During the past seven years that I spent in cooperation with Pál Lovas - an experienced ballet master and outstanding artist - I was able to collect a repertory that features the combinations of melody and rhythm structures most typically occurring in ballet exercises. All pieces of the compilation offer a characteristic metrical form and a harmony of reduced complexity. These compositions are simple to understand and to play for pianist of all levels. Furthermore, by varying the melody and rhythm structures of the different pieces, it is possible to apply them to combinations of exercises as well (e.g. battement tendu – battement jeté, rond de jambe par terre – battement fondu – adagio, etc.), which is helpful in acquiring the basic skills of improvisation. Many of the compositions are suitable for gymnastics classes as well.

It is my hope that the present collection may serve experienced pianists as well, who wish to broaden or to brush up their own repertory material.

Galina Pronicheva
composer

Recommendation

Knowledge of both classical music and ballet music is inevitable for accompanying pianists, since the overlap between the era of musical classicism and that of laying down the rules of classical dance led to the formation of matching structures between these two forms of art. Classical music builds on a regular metric that in turn sets out the boundaries of traditional combinations of classical dance structure consisting of cycles of two or three-element chains.

At the same time, accompanying music plays an important role in the education of young dancers. Pupils need to learn to obey to the tempo as set by the pianist, whose task is to aid pupils improve their skills in adapting to the music. Next to tempo and metric, the melody played is of great importance itself as well: when the development and the changes of the melody line overlap with those of the dance movements, pupils are motivated to perform the movements in a more elaborate, more expressive way of higher quality, thereby gaining artistic skills. It is thus the cooperation between the ballet master and the accompanying pianist that help young dancers finding and developing their ways of performing.

The current collection “Piano Music for Ballet Classes” will be a true companion in this activity to all beginning ballet pianists, helping them simplify the process of acquiring playing skills that enable mastering exercises that correctly feature properties of classical dance music such as typical combinations of tempo, dynamics, and melody, thereby serving the work of both the pupils and the educating ballet masters.

Dóra Uhrik
Kossuth prize awardee
Liszt Prize awardee
Esteemed artist of Hungary
Pál Lovas
Liszt Prize awardee
Esteemed artist of Hungary