Dance students take control of the choreographic process in Piano + Dance, part of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s annual Piano Festival which takes place this week.
The performance, on Friday, February 24, is a collaboration between BA Modern Ballet students and keyboard students from the Bachelor of Music programme. They are joined by pianist, Anto Pett, the Royal Conservatoire’s Keyboard and Collaborative Piano International Visiting Professor in Contemporary Improvisation.
Second year dance students have worked in groups to create two pieces set to Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Cuban Overture. Third year dancers will perform a free improvised piece with Anto Pett at the piano. Anto is one of the most well-known improvisation teachers in Estonia and has taught at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre since 1987.
The BA Modern Ballet students complete an Introduction to Choreography module in the second year of study, giving them the opportunity to create new work.
“We all have experience of choreography but this is the first official piece we’ve worked on,” said second year dancer Anna Williams, 17, from Sheffield.
“There are four of us in our group and we’re dancing to An American in Paris which is perky and playful so our choreography complements the music, it’s quite chaotic and fun.”
Nuno Tauber, 18, from Portugal added: “There are so many ideas when you work together as a group, and we’re all such different dancers, but it has been really enjoyable and the choreography presents our differences. We have floor work, some jumps – there’s a little bit of everything in there.”
The second year dancers have spent more than a month developing the choreography and they can’t wait to take it to the stage at the Royal Conservatoire’s Stevenson Hall.
“We all love performing and we’re really excited to share what we’ve created,” said Erin Crowley, 18, from Hertford.
Keenan Fletcher, 23, from Jamaica, added: “It has been an interesting process creating Piano + Dance – we work well together and I’m looking forward to performing with the others. The piece has lots of character.”
The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Piano Festival, which runs from February 23 to 26, includes showcases from students and staff and concerts by guest artists Olga Kern and Simon Smith. Russian-American pianist Olga Kern is recognised as one of her generation’s great artists, born into a family of musicians with direct links to Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. In demand around the world for his ability to play the unplayable, Simon Smith’s recital will include a new sonata composed especially for him by one of Scotland’s most exciting composers, Stuart MacRae.
There are three world premieres at the Piano Festival with new commissions from students Electra Perivolaris and Gregor Forbes and Glasgow-born composer, Iain Harvie. Light Struggles to Break Through a Northern Sky is written by Electra – a second year Bachelor of Music joint Honours student of Composition and Piano – for four pianos, inspired by the different qualities of light released from the sky on the west coast of Scotland.
Gregor studied Music at the University of Cambridge, graduating in 2014, and last year finished a Master’s degree in Composition at the Royal Conservatoire. This year he is on the Advanced Continuing Education course, focusing on piano and conducting. His piece, Allotments, is an ever-expanding collection of musical situations for eight pianists playing across two pianos.
Iain Harvie’s piece, The World of Simple Programs, is written for the unusual combination of two pianos and two Fender Rhodes keyboards. The Piano Festival will also feature a complete performance of Holst’s The Planets in his original two-piano version and faculty performances of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Suite and Ravel’s La Valse, played by Fali Pavri, Petras Geniusas, Sinae Lee and Bing Bing Li.
View the full programme and book tickets at rcs.ac.uk/boxoffice or call 0141 332 5057.