Lise de la Salle on… When Do We Dance?


I’m a big dance fan. I’ve always adored classical ballet, ever since I was four years old. Then I discovered modern jazz and all kinds of different dances. Growing up, I realised that it is similar to music and they are always connected. The idea of rhythm is important to me: I work a lot on rhythm and pulse in my interpreta­tions and also when I teach or give masterclas­ses. It’s always close to the emotional state in music, like your heartbeats, and it’s primary for dancing too – to have that kind of energy from the ground, from the pulse, from the rhythm. So I decided to take my chance with a programme based around dances. Then I realised that I’d need not one album for this, but ten!

I wanted at first to go back to Lully and Rameau, but clearly I had to make a choice somehow. Therefore I decided to focus only on 100 years, and chose 1850 to 1950 because all the arts were going through a fascinatin­g period of change then in form, rules and techniques. I picked a world travel idea: from America to Argentina, then crossing the ocean to Europe with Portugal, France, and east to Hungary and Russia. Contrast is a very fundamenta­l notion for me: I find it amazingly captivatin­g that in the same period we have Ravel Valses nobles et sentimenta­les on one side with 6000km west Tea for Two played by Art Tatum and a few hundred kilometres east the Six Romanian Folk Dances by Bartók, which are another world.

I’ve tried to mix very famous pieces with less wellknown ones. The Ravel had been on my mind for many years, as had the Art Tatum version of Tea for Two. The Tango by Stravinsky was interestin­g because the dance is supposedly from Argentina, but Stravinsky is Russian so this was a double journey. It’s interestin­g to see how a Russian composer such as Stravinsky perceives the tango; likewise Rachmanino­v, again a Russian, with an Italian Polka. And the Ginastera Three Argentinia­n Dances are incredible pieces that I really wanted to incorporat­e. It’s been a fascinatin­g exploratio­n.

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