Rocket science? Try to conduct a ballet
Decades ago, she went to the Netherlands Dance Theater to work with world famous choreographer Jiri Kylian, never having conducted for dance before.
“I will never forget going into my first rehearsal and thinking ‘I have no idea what’s going on’, at the same time being completely inspired by what the dancers were doing, by the incredible power and the capabilities of the human brain and the human body in the combination of the two art forms [of music and dance], says Fraillon.
“[Kylian] knew the score backwards. I said to myself: “I have to understand his art as well as he understands mine to do this work”.
The job of a ballet conductor, she says, is to command and serve. You need to know what your musicians need: if a dancer or choreographer wants a piece to be played slowly, it can’t be made so slow that your musicians literally can’t breathe. But likewise, the orchestra should be a dance partner for the body, not walk on their feet.
“As a musician, all of our training, our dialogue with each other is done through music,” she says. “In the ballet, it’s silent. It’s how to read bodies and anticipate what they will do … understand the physicality of dancers in general and then of individuals.
It can be as simple as adjusting a musical phrase for dancers who jump higher or lower, so that everyone lands on the beat. Or it could be the place: a dancer takes longer to walk backstage to the center of the stage in Melbourne’s grand State Theater compared to the Sydney Opera House where “it takes a few hops to the other side.” from the scene “.
With experience, too, you anticipate the move from the rehearsal room to the theater, when heavy costumes alter the timing and rhythm of a lift or jump, where dimly lit atmospheric backdrop can make dancers slower. , more careful.
In addition, says Fraillon, you have to “always give the audience a really convincing overall musical interpretation” of some of your favorite music.
Rodrigues is delighted with the challenge. He wants to conduct since in high school he watched an orchestral score and she spoke to him in a language he understood.
There was the temptation on the astrophysical side of his double degree. He is inspired and moved by incredible images of the universe. But it wasn’t really a difficult choice.
“It was fascinating, but it involved a lot of [computer] programming, and it was going to be very tedious, ”he says.
Equally inspiring was the visual splendor of the dance. As a conductor you are “usually the first person to start the music and the last to stop” and the ballet adds meaning, history and emotion.
“The conductor is really the only link between what happens on stage and in the orchestra: we couple that. You have to know the music almost by heart and keep your eyes on the stage and be there to assist them.
“Being such a visual person myself, it’s wonderful to be able to watch … [Australian Ballet] rehearsals, it’s fascinating to see how the dancers interact with each other and with the music, and how all the elements come together.
He has not yet conducted a ballet, he still has a lot to learn. “But for me, it’s always the music that drives me”, he said