Sic Transit, 2017 (22′)
for large ensemble (22.214.171.124 – 126.96.36.199 – 2 perc., piano – strings)
Sic Transit is my ballet score for last year’s inaugural Ballet Sun Valley festival, dreamt-of and directed by the unstoppable Isabella Boylston and choreographed by the very gifted choreographer, Gemma Bond, with set and light design by Kate Duhamel.
It was not purposeful, to have the first-ever Ballet Sun Valley festival take place on the same week as the solar eclipse that cut across the country, passing through Idaho among many other states, but that’s how things lined up. So we decided to run with it. I thought about the idea of a “transit”, of celestial bodies passing each other in a kind of dance, where independent objects align for an extended moment, then disperse. Large and small versions of this concept make up the language of Sic Transit, with the moments of coming-together sometimes extended into full-blown sections of their own.
An eclipse suggests a problematic form — a too-simple, too-symmetrical arc. So we balanced the physical phenomenon against the spiritual dimension of experiencing the event, where one is transformed afterward, distorting the arc. For our ballet, the full eclipse was in near-darkness on stage (a striking contrast to Kate Duhamel’s vibrantly-lit set), with music descending to near-quiet. Afterwards, Isabella and her partner dance a pas de deux to bring us out of the darkness and back into the light.
Many thanks to the Ballet Sun Valley Orchestra and Martin West for the fantastic performance, and to the festival for letting me share it. And of course to Isabella, Gemma, and Kate. I hope you enjoy the score!