In response to Lesley Valdes’s review of Anytown USA and Swan Lake , I feel I should point out that Anytown is dance based on playing records/CDs. Swan Lake is based on a ballet written to a specially composed score and libretto. Big difference in the creative processes. Not that Chris Wheeldon created a truly original ballet for Swan Lake by reinventing an existing one to an existing score. Has any great dance piece been created to recordings? Not for a long time, I suspect.
Great art comes from great collaboration. It is unfortunate how few choreographers do the hard work of working with original music, or how they are kept from doing so by money issues. Not that they can’t surprise us with their sensibility on occasion. Korean choreographer Chil Han created a surprising and witty ballet called Three Sisters to a Mozart Piano Sonata, and it worked beautifully, because he responded to the Mozart on its own level with an artistic sensibility and good taste. He discerned its wit and matched it with his own. Unfortunately, it may not have been produced beyond its studio performance at the New York Conservatory of Dance.
Do I feel this way because I have composed several unproduced ballet libretti? No, that’s why I wrote them— because I felt ballets needed an idea, and I had them.
January 10, 2006