Northern Lights (1992)

Duration: 6’
For piano and pre-recorded tape
Choreography: Rachel Lopez de la Nieta
Lighting Design: Sebastian Petit
First performed at Gravesend, as part of the 1992 annual Ballet Central Tour

Ballet Central has always supported student choreography, and has quite often included it in their programmes. In 1992, the young talented dancer/choreographer, Rachel Lopez de la Nieta, created a piece for Ballet Central based on the astronomic phenomena of the Northern Lights, which had made an enormous impact upon her and inspired her to depict them in movement. Philip Feeney provided a sparkling score, which aimed to express the play of light, of billions of stratospheric atoms and create what the ancient Greeks knew as the music of the spheres.

Using the synth palette of the Roland D550, the track consists of a rapid aura of keyboard together with the occasional synthesized passing comet, using confectioned space-age sounds that, while often steered clear of, were entirely apposite in this context. For the most part the live piano holds the main musical argument, a kind of axis for all the molecular activity on the track. Gradually these musical particles almost literally coalesce, materialising into a concordant A major hymn-like sequence, that progressively becomes more orchestral. At the height of the crescendo there is a sudden suspension, denoting the Northern Lights themselves, and the awe that they generate.

photo by Bill Cooper