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Just Put It There!

from Monday, August13th of the year2007.

I’m ridiculously excited about this Ballet that I just wrote; Benjamin Millepied is totally great and I’m really happy with the music I wrote. So, it’s always a little scary to read glowing dance reviews like this one of Christopher Wheeldon’s new company and find a paragraph like this:

It also saw an unfinished, unnamed work now called “New Wheeldon,” set to music by Jody Talbot, for two black-white couples (Aesha Ash and Mr. Garcia, Craig Hall and Wendy Whelan): this complex chamber-scale ensemble is also scheduled for a Sadler’s Wells premiere. “After the Rain,” an especially popular essay in sustained lyricism set to music by Pärt and first performed with New York City Ballet in 2005, closed this Vail program. All these works reflect Mr. Wheeldon’s keen musical sense, responding to both pulse and legato flow in each score and highlighting its architecture.Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times

part.jpgOkay now. What piece by “Jody Talbot?” Do you mean Joby? Also, what piece. Joby alive, did he write it for the piece? Is the piece unfinished or just the dance? Also, what piece by Pärt? Arvo alive too, did he write it special? And if he had written it, would you have told us the title? These little omissions give me such a shiver. Just put the title of the piece so that we can hear it, or have a fact checker call up the company and find out the title of the piece; it’s not only the author’s problem but also the section’s editor’s problem. Godforbid other choreographers should want to listen to the music and imagine movements to it…it’s just a better idea all around and keeps us all on the Same Team. Maybe there’s some Dance Review Style Sheet that says that to save space, you don’t need to put the titles of the music, but really. I think this is an especially important issue in dance, because the titles of the danced works don’t necessarily correspond with the compositions.

It’s also important in film, though, to make note of when directors use composed scores versus pre-existing music. For instance, Kubrick’s use of Ligeti is, I think, especially creepy because it is borrowed. Similarly, the use of re-recorded and electrified Beethoven in A Clockwork Orange ““ if you’re going to say anything about the music at all, it’s nice to give the full story, even if it’s like, “The score, adapted from Beethoven and Purcell by transgendered Pawtucket-native Wendy (né Walter) Carlos, insists on the western canon to further articulate the perversion of the futuristic eroticism &c. &c.”

I was tricked last night into improvising dinner for six people. I grew up in a household where my mother often cooked in a similar improvisatory fashion, performing the classic French techniques of her own childhood on whatever assorted vegetables came from the garden and throwing in a caper at the end. (Is not the caper the primary signifier of the cozily improvised meal?) Last night, the result was seared whale with a pan-sauce made from sesame seeds, fresh apricot purée, cheap Riesling from a box, and whale’s blood.


  • It gets better when you go to the Vail International Dance Festival’s website to track down this information. Go to the calendar, and you find yourself looking at events scheduled for December, 2010. Thanks much, fellas.

  • “Pulse and Flow Piccata” for viola, whale bones, and dance ensemble.

  • Hahaha. . . Seared Whale and boxed wine!? Thats not bad for an improvised dinner! AND, I had know idea that old Wendy was from Pawtucket. It must have been brutle for her growing up there 🙁

  • Thanks for the recipe! It made a superb addition to a cooking composers’ quiz.

    I’m still not entirely convinced about eating the endangered (see also: a certain P.M. Davies and a roadkill swan), but composers who cook do tend to be better composers than those who can’t.