Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Photo by Pat McDonald
Ballet is an old-school Theatresports game, one that doesn't really fit in to any of the usual game categories. As a musician, how do you approach a Ballet?

The premise of a ballet is quite simple - one player narrates a story, and the others tell the story through dance. Piece of cake! The dancers are (typically) silent throughout the scene; the narrator and the musician provide all of the sound.

I usually get a nice orchestra patch ready to go for a Ballet, and have others within easy reach. That fits what the audience expects to hear when they hear the word "ballet". For me this game comes up most often with Youth Theatresports players, who also expect a traditional ballet. I would say the more experienced players I work with would approach this game as though it were called "interpretive dance" - perhaps not a traditional ballet.

The narrator opens the scene and usually gives a good indication of the type of ballet you're going to have. If you're being welcomed to the Royal Ballet Company's production of blah blah, you're probably safe with an orchestra patch. If the narrator welcomes you to the Ipswich Train Yards for a production of Raw Metal's "Bite Me", they may be looking for something more original from you.

A ballet is often divided in to specific scenes, introducing characters, furthering the story, approaching a climax. To me it is important to segment the music in to movements to match those scenes, with specific transition points from one to the next. Narrators often signal those individual movements with introductions like "And this is Pieter, dancing the dance of 'Joy Joy I Love The Dentist'". Make sure you allow yourself room for light and shade as you transition from one of these movements to the next.

Introducing leitmotifs for characters can be pretty effective here too, but you only have a few minutes to take advantage of them. If you are going to try character themes in a short game like this, keep it simple.

Although often classed as a musical game, the music is anything but the focus; the music provides an emotional platform for the players to dance on. Don't forget to watch the characters, listen to the story, and be changed accordingly.

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