The Captivating Convergance of Contemporary Ballet and Music

Apr 12, 2016

How do music and movement relate in contemporary ballet? Music can be composed for dance moves,  dance can be created for music, and sometimes they’re created independently – coming together on the stage. WRTI’s Susan Lewis has more. 


In rehearsal: (L to R) Gary W. Jeter II, Caili Quan, Kevin O’Day (choreographer), Richard Villaverde, Edgar Anido
Credit Bill Hebert / BalletX

Radio Script:

Susan Lewis: Choreographer Kevin O’Day says his longtime collaboration with composer John King has allowed a lot of independence in their work. Often, movements are not set to the music, as in traditional dance, but are timed to coincide periodically. 

Kevin O'Day:  There’s a duration from beginning to end, and meeting points.

SL: Their work for BalletX’s 2016 Spring Series — called Time Curves — is contemporary ballet with live original music, played by a cellist onstage, with additional electronic elements.

KOD:  There’ll be one segment of this particular piece that’s six minutes long, and there are meeting points each minute. There’s a fixed cue the cellist plays at each minute, but in between it’s very free.

SL:  Freedom that gives rise to serendipitous moments — perhaps a musical accent coinciding with a sudden movement by a dancer.  The heightened awareness between musician and dancers also changes the audience experience.

KOD:  With leaving independence and space between sound and movement also allows the possibility of independence between interpreter and  viewer and that space for them to meet and for them to feel something that might be uniquely theirs.

SL:  O’Day is artistic director of the Kevin O’Day Ballett Nationaltheater Manheim in Germany. He’s created dozens of ballets with John King, whose works also include operas, chamber music and songs.