In New England, deep snowfalls were frequent when I was a child. Wearing rubber galoshes that went on over our shoes, my sisters and I lifted our knees high to puncture the icy crust. It helps, when you’re small and the snow is above your knees, to step inside the leg-holes your older sisters have already created. (Although I still believe they made their steps as far apart as possible to make it difficult for me! I often stumbled in between.)
It seems like a metaphor now — stepping in and out of a path made by someone who’s gone before, experiencing their steps as a stark outline, and making a new journey. It is one way to describe the context of this NPR broadcast. I often have my university dance students listen to it, in the depth of winter, as an example of relating to “classical” music in a personal way, even in a distant place and time.
You’ll hear famed dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones convey his conception of winter in music. Jones recalls a poignant memory from his childhood and relates it to Der Leiermann (The Organ Grinder), a song from Schubert’s Winterreise (Winter Journey). He speaks of his father’s journey and his will to forge a different path for his son; yet even as Jones fulfills that wish, he is wistful about the ways their footsteps did not overlap…
As an “Idea to Try,” obviously there are many ways to explore the metaphor I’m suggesting. (With children, I have cut footprints from webbed shelf liners and laid them out to create pathways, requiring them to take steps long or short, wide or narrow, turned out or in…) But for this page, that’s taking the idea too literally.
For teen/young adult dance students, the audio stands on its own. Let them listen, respond and perhaps feel inspired to embrace “classical” music on their own personal terms.
Click HERE to listen.