An etiquette guide in past Waco Symphony Orchestra concert programs cautions concert-goers against tapping their feet, but the symphony’s Jan. 18 program might allow a little forgiveness.
The orchestral selections have a common thread of dance and the evening’s guest performers — four professional dancers — use the instrument of their bodies, spinning visual melodies to the music’s rhythms.
WSO Music Director and Conductor Stephen Heyde said music and dance have long been entwined — “Movement and music are part of being human,” he said — and the music for the Jan. 18 concert merely samples the wealth of dance-oriented classical music.
“There are so many great classical dance pieces . . . My biggest problem was cutting it down,” he said.
What was chosen represents waltz, tango, mambo and folk dance: Maurice Ravel’s orchestral arrangement of Claude Debussy’s “Danse,” Johann Strauss’ “The Blue Danube Waltz,” Leonard Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from ‘West Side Story,’” Astor Piazzolla’s “Oblivion,” Carlos Gardel’s “Por Una Cabeza” and Alexander Borodin’s “Polovtsian Dances.”
Two couples from Dance South Florida will add a visual dimension to orchestral play, performing a waltz to the Strauss selection and tango to the Piazzolla and Gardel pieces.
There’s a deeper musical dimension as well to several pieces. Sid Ramin produced an expanded orchestral version of Bernstein’s “Symphonic Dances from ‘West Side Story,’” building from what Bernstein originally wrote for the stage’s smaller 14-piece orchestra. Ravel translated a Debussy piano work to an orchestral setting while composer John Williams amplified the Gardel tango into a symphonic performance.
“You’re hearing a second iteration (of works) with the full colors of the orchestra,” Heyde noted.
Film fans in the audience also may find movie connections, too. “Polovtsian Dances” comes from Borodin’s opera “Prince Igor,” whose themes found their way into the Broadway musical, and 1955 film, “Kismet” while Gardel’s “Por Una Cabeza” was the tango to which Al Pacino’s character danced in the 1992 movie “Scent of a Woman.”