Bach, Beethoven, Puccini, Haydn, Mozart, Prokofiev, Khachaturian...Some of the world's most beloved music seen through the prism of 21st century choreographers. Local choreographers create short works using familiar classical music. Choreographers include
  • Marilyn Berrett
  • Nancy Carter (aerialist, and winner of Regalia 2019)
  • Nicholas Cendese
  • Molly Heller
  • Dan Higgins
  • Stephen Koester
  • Sharee Lane
  • John Mead
  • Sara Pickett
  • Nathan Shaw
  • Luc Vanier
  • Natosha Washington

Director’s Word

Audiences may know the names Bach, Beethoven, Puccini, Haydn, Mozart, Prokofiev, and Khachaturian, and some can actually name the composer when hearing the first few notes of a popular symphony. Tonight, RDT has designed a concert that gives audiences the opportunity to experience some well-known masterworks through the lens of contemporary dance-makers.

The concept was born a few years ago when composer Scott Killian and I were sharing complaints about the fact that young people didn’t seem to have enough exposure to classical music. Across the country, 1.3 million elementary school students don’t have access to a music class and classical music programs once hosted by radio stations have all but vanished. Today, some people only hear classical music when it is used as background for a movie.

Who could forget: Stanley Kubrick’s science fiction masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey showcasing a number of classical works, including Johann Strauss II’s Blue Danube Waltz and  Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra that defines the film. Oliver Stone’s Platoon features the mournful sound of Barber’s Adagio for Strings to punctuate the tragedy of the Vietnam War. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining used Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta to capture the creeping menace of a haunted, isolated hotel, and one man’s descent into madness. Walt Disney’s Fantasia forever changed the way people experience hearing Dukas’s The Sorcerer's Apprentice.

Scott and I also discussed the fact that some masterpieces could be in danger of being dulled by familiarity. There is a story that Louie Horst (composer/artistic advisor to Martha Graham) became irate when he discovered Graham playing classical music on the Victrola while doing housework. He maintained that music should be given full attention by the listener.  I can only guess what Horst would think of “elevator” music that surrounds us today.

The result of our banter is Sounds Familiar… some of the world’s most beloved music seen through the prism of 21st century choreographers.

Scott made a list of 36 “recognizable” compositions that were identified as possible springboards for new dances. A dozen local choreographers were invited to select music (2 - 8 minutes in length) from the list.  Our selection of widely known classical music is now reimagined by artists from the modern, contemporary, ballet, aerial, jazz and theatrical world of dance.  

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