The YouTube channel for Voices of Music now has a new addition that explores a new direction in providing video documents of historically-informed performances. Last month’s Voices of Music concert was entitled Let’s Dance, and four of the selections on the program featured choreography by Carlos Fittante. The most interesting of these was a performance by Fittante of his reconstruction of a dance solo set to the chaconne from Jean-Baptiste Lully’s 1683 opera Phaéton. The reconstruction was based on the documentation of the choreography by Louis Pécour using the notational system of Raoul Auger Feuillet, an example of which is illustrated above. Note that the notation captures both movement on the surface of the stage and the comportment of the body in executing all of the steps.
Preparing a video of this performance thus posed a new challenge for David Tayler, co-director of Voices of Music and the prime mover behind the YouTube channel, as well as his partners for this specific production, Sheila Newbery and Hiro Matsuo. Fortunately, the cameras were all positioned at a height from which one could appreciate the floor patterns as well as the steps themselves. (I should also confess that I sought out the same height when I was covering this performance, finding a perfectly suitable location without getting in the way of the camera crew.) The major difficulty was giving attention to the musicians, as well as Fittante; and Tayler found a viable solution with a wide-screen lens for the camera.
From a strictly historical point of view, this performance was, without a doubt, the high point of this particular Voices of Music concert. I was particularly struck by Fittante’s awareness of the expressiveness of performance of the music by the Voices of Music ensemble, building his own physical interpretation by adding an appropriate layer of his own expressiveness. This was definitely an event to be enjoyed by a larger audience than that present for the occasion itself, and Tayler’s new video delightfully broadens that scope of appreciation.