What Is Musicality in a Dancer?
Like many other musicians, conductor Robert Irving unhesitatingly names Violette Verdy as one of the most musical dancers he ever worked with. One day the author questioned him further about this: "Mr. Irving, is such musicality an inborn thing?"
"Oh no!" he laughed. "Very much out-born!" Asked to elaborate, he suggested: "Well, they can hear the music while they're dancing. And they do hear it and listen to it. They understand it. That's not very complicated. And yet--" he paused to consider. "Some of the people haven't got the basic auditory apparatus to distinguish the sounds, to analyze them. I mean, there is an immense variety in the musicality of human beings, isn't there!"
A chance to hear Violette Verdy's thoughts concerning musicality came one morning with her gracious invitation to observe her teach the company class for New York City Ballet.
Long considered one of the most delightful of Balanchine's ballerinas, Violette Verdy went on to become artistic director of the Paris Opera Ballet, and later the Boston Ballet. Most recently, she has rejoined New York City Ballet as a master teaching associate. In addition, she devotes considerable time and effort to setting both Balanchine's choreography and her own works on other companies in the United States and abroad. Her Set of Seven, to piano music by Mary Jeanne van Appledorn, was among the works featured in the American Music Festival presented by New York City Ballet.
When this dance artist finally sat down to rest for a few minutes, she was asked: "What is musicality in a dancer?" Miss Verdy responded: "That's dif-