Music for Class: Beyond Ballet Basics
June 28, 2010

Kat Wildish knows ballet. After performing with New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, she became certified to teach the ABT National Training Curriculum (Primary–Level 7). Currently on faculty at The Ailey Extension, she also trains teachers for the Dance Educators of America. Wildish loves finding new variations on traditional ballet music. “I get a lot of my ballet music from They have a great selection of different performance recordings from around the world,” she says. And while she is fortunate enough to work with a classical pianist for her classes at Ailey, she loves it when he changes things up and plays The Beatles or Edith Piaf. “I find using popular tunes in ballet class makes it so much more fun,” she says. Here, she shares her outside-the-box favorites.



Artist: Eagles

Song: “Hotel California”

“My pianist adapts this to fit as an
adagio, and since many students know this song—many of them even know the words—I think it’s comforting for them to dance to it. Sometimes knowing the music allows dancers to extend through the movement and actually be more artistic with their expressions.”


Artist: Nouvelle Vague

Song: “Just Can’t Get Enough”

“This song is a bossa nova cover of the Depeche Mode classic. It is great for an interesting pirouette combo or even a petite allegro. It’s light and lifts students into their turns and jumps in an unusual way. I find that it also helps transport dancers into a different atmosphere of dance.”


Artist: Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd

Song: “Desafinado”

“This song is soft, yet perfect for an upbeat waltz across the floor. Jazz music seems to help my students feel comfortable enough to take a chance on multiple turns, or hold that
balance and/or extension just a little bit longer.”


Artist: English Chamber Orchestra & Richard Bonynge

Album: Minkus-Lanchbery: La Bayadère

“The music of La Bayadère is one of my old faithfuls. The male variation is great for a grand allegro. It has the power to motivate students to leap higher. ‘Kingdom of the Shades’ is a wonderful selection for adagio.”


Artist: Edith Piaf

Song: “L’Accordéoniste”

“We had a group of dancers visiting from France recently, and my pianist played this happy allegro for chassé turns across the floor. I found it to be very fun and amusing.”

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