Choreographer: Dennis Nahat
Music: Felix Mendelssohn
Costumes: Janet Marie Groom
Lighting: Kenneth Keith
World Premiere: San Jose/Cleveland Ballet, October 28, 1998
PBT Performance Date: March 2007
Program Notes (2007)
By Carol Meeder, former Director of Arts Education
As a young man of 17, Dennis Nahat attended the Juilliard School of Music on a full scholarship to study dance and music. As an experienced choreographer, he begins with the music. Working from the musical score, with the ability to sing each individual part, he provides insight into the close relationship between the music and the movement.
I created this work because of my love for the music of Felix Mendelssohn’s dazzling Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 49, composed between February and July of 1839. Mendelssohn was in fact the first pianist to perform it at its premier on February 1, 1840. Robert Schumann said, “It is the master-trio of our time.” He went further to say, “[he] is the Mozart of the nineteenth century, the most illuminating of musicians, who is able to see through the contradictions of our age and is the first to reconcile them.”
I feel the expansive, song-like material in the first movement lends itself to a multitude of choreographic ideas. The first movement, entitled “Winged Hearts,” has rich keyboard writing along with the rhapsodic textures of the violin and cello that makes dancing a pleasure. The suspended “Andante” has been described as a song without words – a “Suspended in Time” pas de deux. The Mendelssohn’s trade mark ‘fairy’ like movement is among the finest examples of these Scherzo movements. I titled this movement “A Fleeting Moment”. Like Mendelssohn’s instrumentation, it is choreographed for a trio of dancers. The joyful finale, like so many of Mendelssohn’s final movements, suggests a Gypsy-like character dance of passion and tenderness. Again, I felt the spontaneity of the music and titled it simply, “Spontaneity”.
Raymond Rodriguez has been dancing under Nahat’s direction for twenty-six years. The Pas de Deux of the second movement was choreographed for him. While setting this ballet on PBT’s dancers, Mr. Rodriguez reflected on his years of working with Moments as a dancer and repetiteur. For him, Moments is “the sheer joy of dancing and relating to the music. It’s about letting the music transport the dancers through the moment.” He expresses these impressions through beautiful moments in nature –
“Winged Hearts”, the first movement, may be felt as an awakening, such as the sun coming up at dawn or a flower blossoming into full bloom. The pas de deux of the second movement, “Suspended in Time,” could be a relaxed summer night, accented with a gentle breeze; a carefree, blissful “moment” to be savored.
In “A Fleeting Moment,” the third movement quickens into a cool, crisp, yet bright and sunny fall day when motivation is high to make good use of every “moment”. We can plan and strive to accomplish goals, but sometimes the most satisfying moments are spontaneous and serendipitous. That “Spontaneity” of the fourth movement is a celebration of dancers, working together and sharing Moments with the music and the movement. Then at the close, they acknowledge their audience, in a simple line, with a bow of appreciation.