Dance for Two
This is from my recent faculty recital.
The full recording is now on the Video page!
Dance for Two
Horn Concerto, op. 91 (1951)
Reinhold Gliere (1874 – 1956)
Act One – Connection
Act Two – Reflection
Act Three – Embrace
III. Moderato / Allegro Vivace
Katie Jean Dahlaw & Cordelia Leeder, dancers
Katie Jean Dahlaw, choreographer
When I performed the Glière with orchestra in 2006, a conductor friend paid me a strange compliment: that I made beautiful music out of a piece that “wasn’t that good.” I’ve wondered about his comment many times over the years. To me, this is a truly gorgeous piece of music, and one of the most virtuosic works for horn from the mid-twentieth century! What about the piece turned him off?
This is a modern work that looks to the past. Glière’s musical aesthetic aligns more with the Romantic era than with the various twentieth-century compositional styles. But in addition to sounding like Romantic era music, this piece also seems to embody romance as a subject matter. Perhaps my friend heard this work as overly saccharine. The second movement in particular is so lovely, but could easily be judged by today’s listeners as over-the-top romantic and one-dimensional.
As an artist, I try to think of ways that classical music can say something important about the world we live in today. Love has stirred much controversy in our society over the past few years. Last summer, the United States Supreme Court passed a ruling that marriage and the legal rights associated with marriage could not be denied to same-gender couples. Today, in the United States of America, gay couples have legal access to “happily ever after.”
It was around the time of the Supreme Court ruling that I became obsessed with this piece: practicing it, thinking about it, and trying more than ever to understand my friend’s aversion to it. Glière’s music already makes a statement about love. There are troubling moments, sure, but the overarching ideals in this work are warmth, comfort, longing and fulfillment, and a shamelessly happy ending! It was an easy leap to connect those themes with the changing social and political landscape relating to love.
“Dance for Two” is a celebration! These two characters have found something precious in each other. Through Glière’s music, we see two people share one of the best experiences that “being human” can offer us: finding true love. As I told Katie Jean and Cordelia, this is a fairy tale for every little kid who grew up thinking they would never have “happily ever after.”
I am so grateful to have found an artistic partner in Katie Jean as this project moved from concept to reality. She felt strongly that the choreography should explore not only the relationship between the two characters, but also internal acceptance of oneself. This work is equally about learning to love parts of yourself that others might consider “unlovable.” In that way, “Dance for Two” is also a love story between one’s own heart and mind.
First movement cadenza, DeAunn Davis (2006)
This program has been funded, in part, by the Nevada Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.