Somehow, someway, I got a job as a pianist at a very prestigious ballet school and company as an on-staff accompanist. I responded to the add, like so many others, one of a dozen expecting never to hear from them. But one day they called me in for an audition.
Caught completely off guard, I asked what sheet music they would like me to play. The director explained that it's not so much what you play, but how you play it. The accompanist must watch the ballet instructor as she demonstrates an 8 count dance combination for the class. Based on her vocabulary (adagio, degage, etc) and physical movements, the pianist chooses an appropriate 8, 16, or 32 bars to play.
When I drove in for the interview/audition, I observed an experienced accompanist and scribbled notes on a scratch piece of paper for future reference as he skillfully played without question or hesitation for each combination. The class moved so quickly, I was sure I would never get the hang of it. The director asked me to play so I chose the only 8 bars of Chopin I know. I also improvised a few other rhythms that she spontaneously tapped out out. A week later, to my surprise, I was offered the job.
Now the panic really begins. I'll be playing for seven hours straight. I've spent the last few days dissecting all the music I think might be appropriate for a ballet class into measures of 8, so I don't get confused in the middle of a song. Youtube and Google have been my best friends as I figure just what goes on in the illusive, disciplined world of ballet. I'm wishing I had paid more attention in freshmen music theory class when we discussed all those Latin and Italian words that were written at the top of a piece of music.
Whatever happens on my first day (Saturday, eek!), I'm thankful for the position. I know this will be great experience as a musician and certainly sharpen my skills and broaden my horizons. Here is a video from my practice session today. Like lightning in a bottle, here I am playing a classical song, "Prelude in E Minor" by Chopin. I loved the soundtrack to the Pianist so much, I bought the music and learned the easiest piece in the book, which happened to be this one. Still very beautiful. Enjoy.