Just Go With Me on This for a Minute: Some Musical Musings

Dance has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. From preschool to high school it was ballet, in college jazz/tap/musical theatre, and after college hip-hop. Now the form dance takes most consistently in my life is through coaching cheer, and while coaching is a blast, I often miss being a dancer myself.  The ballet nostalgia was particularly high over the weekend when my mom and I saw Swan Lake in the movie theatre (Live streaming from Moscow courtesy of Fathom Events). Both dancers and orchestra alike were absolutely breathtaking, and the performance reminded me of a quote that one of my dance teachers shared with us one class: “Dance is what music looks like.” Ponder that for a moment. What a magical idea!

Two-Dancers-on-a-Stage,-c.1874
One of my favorite moments in the performance was when they summoned the maestro out of the orchestra pit, and he joined the lead dancers in a curtain call. That moment was a beautiful acknowledgement that his conductors baton is actually magician’s wand, without which the dancing would just be a series of graceful jumps and thumping toe shoes.

I’ve been thinking a lot about music recently, and in particular the power behind it. If dance is a visual representation of the music, what is music itself? For one thing, music is an expression of those who compose and arrange it. When I think about composers whose music particularly inspires me, (Tchaikovsky, Dvorak, Smetana, even modern composers like Andrew Lloyd Webber and John Williams), I’m amazed that they can sit down and somehow craft such powerful, soul-filled compositions by writing notes down on a blank score. Where does that come from? Langston Hughes coined the phrase “Heart Melodies”, and I think that answers the question on some level. A beautiful melody reflects a beautiful heart.

On deeper level, what if music (or Music) were a force bigger than any of us, and composers and musicians simply tap into that force to varying degrees of success? That would mean that composers would be conduits of that Beauty, dancers would be illustrators of that Beauty, and the Creator would be the cosmic Maestro. A bit of a fanciful idea, perhaps, but fun to explore nonetheless.

To wrap up these snow day musings, I leave you with the Hughes that I mentioned earlier:

Bring me your dreams
You dreamer
Bring me all your
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too rough fingers
Of the world
-Langston Hughes

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