The conductor Felix Bender talks about conducting for dance and his close collaboration with Mario Schröder.Monday 05.07.2021
The first acquaintance
When I started working in Leipzig I got to meet Mario Schröder very quickly. One of the first things I conducted was the gala for Uwe Scholz in 2018 which was a very emotional evening but also complex to conduct. During that season, I also got the chance to conduct a performance of »Sacre«. Another highlight for me was working on the evening Magnificat, a creation to music by Bach and Pergolesi which is great baroque music and the dancing was sublime. This was the basis for our connection and for other shared project. Also I cherish the work with dancers alot.
Conducting for dance
I really enjoy conducting for dance. It feels to me like an additional ray of colour in my work. Usually I work more with musicians or singers and so the work with dancers is special to me. Also, the way of creating music is different. To conduct a ballet one needs great precision regarding the tempi. Because you need to find the exact connection between music an movement. So the conductor needs to have a special form of awareness to make sure the dancers can rely on him every show.
This is something I worked a lot on for my first full production with the Leipzig Ballet which was »Sleeping Beauty«. I watched a lot of rehearsals, when the orchestra is not yet involved and try to grasp what is going on onstage. Music and dance have to intertwine otherwise a moment does not work. I ask a lot of questions and talk to the dancers and prepare myself as good as possible.
But of course we are human and not perfect machines and we don't want to be. We leave room for the artistic expression in each moment.
This is a value Mario and I share. And also he is a choreographer who is very profiled in working and choosing music and seeing the possibilites for a scenic project. Our ideas for future projects are often compatibale and we often talk conceptually. This is a quality of work that I am very grateful for and would not want to miss.