A Step in the Right Direction
I spent three hours this afternoon looking at human bodies (clothed) and realised that I have completely underestimated the number of ways one could walk, stand and bow. I sing, and this afternoon attended a master class on the topic of walking on and off stage with one’s accompanist.
The rules are basically simple: regardless of sex, the singer walks on first with the pianist trotting behind, often clutching the book of songs. Reaching the indentation of the piano’, the singer stops, waits for the pianist to arrive and then the two bow together. The pianist then sits down and the concert begins. At the end of the concert, as the applause swells, the singer looks at the pianist and extends a hand. The pianist rises and the two again bow. The singer then again leads the pianist to the door but, if the singer is male and pianist female, pauses slightly before the door and allows the pianist through first. The behaviour between sets is similar to that at the end of the concert but with a shorter bow.
This was a masterclass and I even followed most of the female master’s (mistress’?) advice about an unsuitable décolletage and the associated hazards of deep bowing. I got lost in the bit about brassiere straps however but suspect that it wasn’t aimed at me.
Now, compared with, say, memorising the 24 songs of Schubert’s Winterreise cycle, walking should be pretty easy. I did not go and give myself hacked up at this masterclass but enthusiastically augmented the applause as 13 other singers did (each with a pretend accompanist). Each singer was video-taped and analysed by two masters (or, more accurately, one master and one mistress—this is getting awkward).
Some floundered onto the stage with limbs seemingly independent of the body; some walked with poise and then started back on the wrong foot, almost doing a pirouette; many refused to engage the enthusiastic audience at all, preferring to look at the floor. And what does one do with one’s hands during a bow? Apparently one arm across the stomach and one behind the back is not good form. But neither is clutching one’s thighs. And while one may rest a hand gently on the piano’, it must not become a load-bearing device.
Well, it was interesting and some of the girls were pretty so it was worthwhile.