When in June 2011 over 100 students got together for the annual dance project of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Education Programme, the music of a Baroque master was programmed for the first time. The project involved a newly assembled suite using music from stage works by Jean-Philippe Rameau. Conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker was Early-music specialist Emmanuelle Haïm; the choreography was devised by Vivienne Newport, who for many years was a dancer and close associate of Pina Bausch.
Rameau’s music is more than just Baroque gracefulness, it’s also full of exciting expressiveness and variety – perfect for a student ballet. Besides sarabandes, marches and chaconnes, there’s thunder, portrayals of storms, the sounds of war, and there are also improvisations by Berlin music students. All this blends together with the continuous flow of movement from the dancers. Their dynamism and enthusiasm, the full power of their performances – sometimes running, sometimes striding with ironic courtly stateliness – is as varied as the music itself. And just as the music changes mood between wildness, painful melancholy and tenderness, the choreography reflects the whole gamut of emotions, from joyful ecstasy to the depths of despair, something most young people are likely to recognise. What in any case is obvious throughout, is the total commitment of the young dancers, and – like the many others before them who have participated in these dance projects – just what an immediate and rewarding experience the interaction with classical music can be.