by Karen MacIver
Karen MacIver is a musician working in Moving Image and has been a regular pianist for many dance companies including Scottish Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and Houston Ballet, Texas. She spends the majority of her time lecturing and producing interactive workshops around the world, exploring excellence for music improvisation for dance. In this Blog she explains how The Art of Class came into being.
In 2000 I returned from London to Glasgow, having finished my postgrad study based at London College of Music in Ealing Film Studios. I was studying Film Music with Howard Goodall, creator of great TV themes such as Blackadder and QI. With impressive insight, Scottish Ballet had put together a plan to train up young musicians who showed great potential for working in a Dance Company. That is, great sight reading skills, pianistic control especially for playing reduced orchestral scores and – most crucially – improvisational skill at the keyboard. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland came on board to provide an academic structure and qualification for a two year postgraduate course. MMus Piano for Dance was born! I was asked to coach the students Improvisation for Dance Class and 13 years ago I set out one of the most remarkable journeys of my career. I carefully scribed and stored every lesson I made over the years and from these joys, frustrations, failures and successes came a distillation of my work – The Art of Class. A 3-part e-book showing the successful structures used to help new musicians in dance and inspire new ways of thinking for ‘resident’ company pianists.
Despite every teaching step of the way being captured in my notebooks, I still needed a starting point for a book. This came (after many false starts) as an exploration of how and why music influences Natural Movement. Starting with babies, I look at our culture of movement and the influence music has on us subliminally. Once we recognise, as musicians how we influence culture and social interaction, we can then make Big Decisions when we play music for dance. We define in what way we can help the choreographic moves given to dancers with the compositional knowledge we have at our fingertips.
In The Art of Class – The Overture you can examine these ideas with sound and video clips helping along the way.
Download for free here https://www.artofclass.online