Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Musicality and The Choreography of Events

I haven't had time to post much lately, but I just have to talk ever so briefly about a concept that comes up every time I teach.

"Musicality in dance then might be considered a measure or degree to which a dancer is receptive and creative in his translation or rendering of music through movement." --From Dance Advantage: Musicality in Dance.

In The Burlesque Handbook, I talk about the importance of musicality and timing. It's the art of making it look as if your movements and actions influenced the music, rather than the other way around.

One of my favorite film clips for performers to study musicality is The Skeleton Dance, a Silly Symphonies cartoon. In it the skeletons are timed so that not just their dancing but their actions take place according to the music. It appears as if the music is caused by their movements rather than the other way around.

When Billie Madley did a workshop at The New York School of Burlesque, she described "horns coming out of her ass"  in this routine. It's a perfect example of the performer making it look as if her body is responsible for all the action onstage!

Dance training is a definite asset for burlesque performers, as it helps them to understand and achieve musicality. However, in a burlesque routine, there is usually also a choreographed striptease in which events, such as a glove peel, corset opening, or gown drop also happens, so these events should be musical as well. Make it look as if your hips make the drums beat, as if the long tone of the horn is being drawn out by the tension in your stocking peel, as if it's the raising of your eyebrows that makes the piano pause. This also applies to comedy events--try timing the opening of a bottle into a musical moment that makes it sound as if the top coming off made the harp trill happen, as if the opening of a book created dramatic tympany, as if your pausing to give the audience a look of surprise caused a change in musical tempo. Even if you don't have dance training,  you can find moments in your choreography of events to "make music happen."

Here's a clip of Peekaboo Pointe and Gal Friday making it look as if ALL the music is coming out of their asses:

Blogger has been doing some odd stuff to my video posts, so if you can't see the clip, here's the URL: http://www.youtube.com/embed/Wmy829bczys

If you have comments or favorite moments of musicality in burlesque, please post them here!