Dance Suite displays a variety of historical dance forms from a twentieth century viewpoint. The six dances move forward historically from the ancient Hey, through Waltz and Polka, to the sophisticated Tango and the jazz tradition. The rhythm that typifies each dance is constantly under attack, sometimes from a different dance style altogether. These intrusive elements are most obvious in the final dance and prompts the double meaning of the title.
Hey is constructed like a mediaeval motet, where the main blocks of material are rhythmically unconnected to one another. The percussion is the most disconnected of all and seems to have arrived from a Chinese carnival. The scoring alludes to the eight, four and two foot pipes of a baroque organ.
After a nod in the direction of Dowland’s Lachrimae Pavan, the piece seems to wander to and fro between the 16th century and the 19th century world of the Lehár waltz.
The Polka is derived from a four bar fragment found in Stravinsky’s sketchbook for The Rite of Spring above which is written: “Dieppe Polka”.
This is a reversal of the date-shift process in the second movement, in that the wandering goes backwards rather than forwards, particularly to the William Byrd of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.
A slow sentimental tango is sandwiched between an abstract deconstructed one, both of which are developed in Dominic Muldowney’s opera The Voluptuous Tango.
Break-Dance is the fastest, hardest and strangest movement. Its exuberance fractures the texture, which slowly crumbles midway through the movement, only to be resurrected mirror fashion. The piece is a species of palindrome with no true centre, hence: “Break-Dance”.
Conductors are free to make a selection from these dances for festival or competition programmes, when limited performance time is available.
USA Grade Band 6
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College Consortium Commission with BASBWE Education Trust
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