Musical Techniques in Balanchine's Jazzy Bach Ballet
The choreography of George Balanchine has long been described as “musical.” By applying music-analytic tools to patterns in dance, this essay analyzes relationships between dance and music in Balanchine's Concerto Barocco, set to J. S. Bach's Concerto for Two Violins (BWV 1043). Choreomusical notation and annotated videos offer readers the chance to sketch-dance, to feel in their own bodies the movements in relation to the music. Balanchine's choreography maps both specific patterns of pitch and rhythm from Bach's score—sometimes synchronized to the music and sometimes displaced temporally—and general patterns of motivic development and metric manipulation. Balanchine's use of funky rhythms resonates with his characteristic on-top-of-the-beat step timing, offbeat visual accentuation, and jazz-dance-inspired movements, attesting to the adoption of both Africanist and Europeanist musical techniques in the formation of an American neoclassical ballet.
Leaman, Kara Yoo. 2021. "Musical Techniques in Balanchine's Jazzy Bach Ballet." Journal of Music Theory 65(1): 139-169.
Duke University Press
Journal of Music Theory
George Balanchine, J.S. Bach, Dance, Choreomusical, Meter