Outside of the church, dance is the foundation of Western music. The symphonic form evolved from the dance suite, which in turn evolved from music which people, some time in the deep, dark past, actually danced to.
This is the connection for Allegro’s program, “Dance Baroque!” Spokane’s specialists in Baroque music are bringing dancers onto The Met stage to bridge the gap between dancing and listening music.
Up-and-coming performers from Theatre Ballet, Sara Gilpin, Sara Radmaker, Stephanie Booth and Jessica Hilt will be featured. Dance selections have been choreographed by Theatre Ballet’s artistic director Margaret Goodner.
In addition to directors Beverly Biggs and David Dutton, Allegro will fill its ranks with Ben Fitch, oboe; Susan Wadsworth, bassoon; Wayne Smith, cello; Tracy Gibson and Tana Bachman, violins; and Angela Mitchell, viola.
The dancers will join the musicians for a Suite from Henry Purcell’s “Fairy Queen,” selections from Andre Campra’s “L’Europe Galante” and the Rameau A Minor Suite for the harpsichord.
The movements from early 18th century harpsichord suites were given names of dances: allemande, courante, sarabande, gigue, et al. These were not necessarily meant to be danced, but contained the character of the dance step’s rhythm and tempo.
Biggs’ flexible fingers will accompany Radmaker’s fleet feet for the Rameau. While not specifically historical, the choreography for Tuesday’s concert will allude to the styles and conventions of the day.
The entire ensemble will participate in nine selections from Purcell’s 1692 opera “The Fairy Queen.” The work, based on Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” was not really opera as we know it now. The English at the time were more fond (and more capable) of adding incidental music to a play than the full-blown musical spectacle which was happening on the continent. The dancers will weave in and out during this suite from Purcell’s most tuneful opus.
Campra’s 1697 “L’Europe Galante” is considered one of the first Opera-Ballets.
Rather than basing his opera on allegory and myth, as was the trend in France, he drew his plots from contemporary events. He presented this scandalous stuff anonymously at first, since he had a church job as master of music at Notre Dame at the time.
Each of the four acts has a plot unto itself, stereotyping in turn the behavior of the French, Spanish, Italians and Turks. Allegro is assembling a suite from the Opera-Ballet which will allow the dancers to exhibit as many of these qualities as possible.
In addition, Allegro will be performing a Handel Trio Sonata for two oboes and basso continuo, and a Schickhardt Sonata.
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with story: Allegro’s “Dance Baroque!” Location and time: The Met, Tuesday, 8 p.m. Tickets: $14.50, $11.50 and $8