Last Nov, Vocalise was proud to stage our first ever ballet programme, “Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and many more”, for the Candlelight Concert series.
It took us some time to find suitable ballerinas onboard as we realised they aint many around who would want to do pointe work. We are really glad to have Maybelle & Ting Wei join us on this adventure.
We were involved from the very get go, from getting the costumes sorted to rehearsals. Shopping for the bodice, to bringing it to the seamtress for alteration & adding trimmings and arranging rehearsals for the artistes. It has definitely been an experience!
Journey through our preparations for this ballet programme by clicking on each of the images below!
BEHIND THE SCENES
What our musicians have to say about working with the ballerinas!
Vocalise specially custom-sourced the costumes and had it embellished with gold and lace, to let our ballerinas shine their very best on stage!
Costume fitting was also needed during rehearsals to ensure that the tutus would not hinder their movements on their show day.
For those familiar with the Pas d’action in Nutcracker, the performance was actually adapted from using male and female dancers to two female dancers. Our ballerinas managed to adopt the lifts and the rest of the choreography!
For the Dance of the Little Swans, in order to keep the integrity of the original, we chose not to have dances; instead we kept important steps from the solo ballerina or prima donna!
Arrangement of scores
Working on the music of this ballet programme was definitely a challenging feat for our musicians, having to bring out the massive sound of an entire orchestral score (with an original size of at least 50 players) condensed into four parts for our string quartet! As such with the condensed ballet score, our musicians’ fingers are always kept busy for this programme, playing at almost every moment with little ‘breaks’ to be had throughout the hour.
Another unique discovery was that musical choices could have big differences across various professional recordings, as there often exists different versions of music for a ballet score! With the ‘original’ ballet score written by the composer for a full-scale ballet production, there also exists a shortened version we know as the ‘Suite’ or orchestral suite, such as in the the Nutcracker Suite or Swan Lake Suite, both of which our quartet scores for this concert were arranged from!
This ‘suite’ score is written by the original composer or another arranger, and presents the main themes of a ballet in a shortened version suitable for a concert hall without dancers, as well as versions of the original music made possible to be played by smaller scale instrument arrangements, such as ourselves – the string quartet!
How is this interesting for our ballerinas, and for our collaboration in this unique Candlelight concert?
Understanding these differences, we had specially worked through differences in timing and duration, as well as the differences in the ballerinas’ requirements for this music. This involved being conscious of sectional and tempo differences in the orchestral suite versions and the original ballet versions, as well as the visual differences on stage, in order to conceive a collaborative result which best suited our two-ballerina stage!
It was an exciting process that kept us intrigued as we worked through it together, and we are so fortunate to be able to make this performance come to fruition with our talented ballerinas.
This has been both a fulfilling and fruitful experience for our artistes, and it would not have been possible without your overwhelming support.
We look forward to performing our ballet shows for you again in Jan 2022!