Music for Class: Arturo Fernandez

Music for ballet class

At first glance, Arturo Fernandez’s ballet class seems like any other. But by the end of barre, the dancers have explored their complete range of motion, transitioning between parallel and turnout. In center, he asks dancers to change their facing and begin to use more expressive, contemporary port de bras. “Ballet always seems to be about the legs, but it’s important to use your whole body,” says Fernandez, ballet master at Alonzo King LINES Ballet, who teaches at the LINES Dance Center and warms up the company on tour. “Sometimes people forget that. Even the company does.”

Though Fernandez is classically trained, he spent over a decade performing with San Francisco modern dance troupe ODC. That experience helped him identify what some bunheads lack—an articulation of certain body parts and a sense of spontaneity. “In modern, I found that I was using a lot of muscles that I didn’t ever use in classical ballet, as well as the brain,” he says. “I try to marry ballet and modern because I want my dancers to have the freedom to improvise and experiment, even in technique class.” DT

Ballet Basics

Artist: Lynn Stanford

Album: Music for a Ballet Class

Artist: Robert Long

Album: Ballet Etudes: Music for Classroom Use and Private Study

“These aren’t always very interesting, but they really set dancers up for a solid class. They’re basic, but grounding.”

Rhythm and Timing

Artist: Rudy Apffel

Album: Music for Ballet Class, Vol. 3

Artist: Daniel Boudewyns

Album: Beautiful Music for Ballet Class, Vol. 1

“These CDs are traditional but give you a great sense of rhythm. Many of the tracks are long enough so that you can do both sides of the combination without stopping. Rudy has some up-tempo stuff that really gives you a sense of rhythm. Daniel has some great grand battement songs—you can really feel the downbeat.”

Creative Freedom

Artist: Ellina Akimova

Album: Music for Ballet Class IV

Artist: Aly Tejas

Album: Music from Within: a Tribute to Martha Mahr

“Ellina’s CD gives me a wonderful feeling when I create combinations—there is so much space inside the music and more freedom for the dancers to play. Aly’s tracks are really short, but so beautiful and heartfelt. It’s great to use before a performance because the songs bring out a lot of emotion from the beginning.”

Photo courtesy of Arturo Fernandez

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