Home Backstage BEDTIME

Return to BalletNotes Home Page


Bedtime Stories 

choreography: Lawrence Edelson

music: J.S. Bach - Brandenburg Concerto No.5 BWV 1050

costumes executed by: BalletMet Costume Shop

lighting design: Alexander V. Nichols

Premiere of "Bedtime Stories" by BalletMet Columbus, March 6, 1997
These notes compiled by: Gerard Charles, BalletMet Columbus February 1997





Music has always been at the heart of Mr. Edelson’s connection to dance as it is now with his choreography. For him the dance is definitely born out of the music: in the case of Bedtime Stories, it was Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 5 which he had been considering as music to choreograph to for some seven years. However the concept of the ballet was only formed a year ago when David Nixon approached Mr. Edelson to create a new work for BalletMet.

The first movement of the ballet explores individual relationships and their different manifestations, the second movement follows a lone female who eventually selects a partner and in the third movement relationships are once again examined but this time in the light of the similarities that we share and a sense of communality.

The first movement is in a typical Concerto Grosso form, a core of musicians playing a ritornello that recurs throughout the piece alternating with varied episodes for the instrumental soloists. Following this structure Mr. Edelson has matched his ideas to the music, each soloist episode being aligned with a different relationship on stage. Some characters are approached seriously while others are choreographed from a more satirical point of view. Humor in any genre is a challenge, and in dance it is a skill that we do not practice too often. Lawrence believes it important to treat the humor seriously, sincerely and honestly. He also feels there is always some truth underlying most comedy.

Perhaps the most strikingly different musical dynamic comes at the end of this movement where the harpsichord comes to the fore and actually separates from the rest of the orchestra for an extended cadenza. For this moment Mr. Edelson has brought out the lonely female who will lead us into the second movement. The first movement ends with a restatement of the opening both musically and dancewise.

The second movement is lyrical and slow in contrast to the two outer movements. The movement begins with a sense of exploration that is echoed by the soloist’s search for her ideal partner. By the end of the movement we find all the dancers in partnerships of their choosing.

The style of movement in the third movement of the ballet is a little more free and there is more ensemble dancing. Although we may not look for it or achieve it in the same way, we can all be happy in a relationship that suits us.

Mr. Edelson says that his movement style is very influenced by the music. He likes to work with the dynamic contrasts of the music, not always literally imitating them, and sometimes deliberately contrasting his movement to the dynamics of the music. He studies the music greatly in preparation for his time in the studio, but for the last two days before commencing work on Bedtime Stories did not listen to it in order to come into the studio fresh.

Lawrence has developed a different movement vocabulary for each couple, but there are some common motifs for all couples. He very much enjoys working with the dancers in creating these movements and views the choreographic process as a true collaboration. He does not like to come into the studio with fixed steps in his head that he dictates to the dancers. Rather he likes to work with them to shape movements that suit his ideas and the dancers’ styles of movement. It is this collaboration as well as the opportunity to physicalize the music that drives Lawrence’s interest in the choreography.

He believes it is also important to be able to discard ideas that, however beautiful or satisfying, are unsuitable to that moment in a ballet, the music, or to those particular dancers. He has had the experience of creating movements on one couple that though pleasing to the eye did not match the section he was working on but were found to be more appropriate to another couple.

Mr. Edelson does not feel that he is plunging into unknown territories of movement invention but is more interested in presenting the individuals in his work and the differing dynamics of relationships. However, this ballet has offered him the chance to experiment with partnering in different ways.

The use of beds as set pieces has added challenges and opportunities that a flat stage does not. (The beds have a sprung floor covered with a regular dance surface and an inclined surface so that the audience has a better perspective). By creating more of a three dimensional space the dancers can move on, under, between, around and over the beds. Challenges abound with reduced space and bed linens that ensnare the dancers. There is the obvious symbolism attached to the use of beds, but Lawrence does not want that to override the importance of the dynamics of the relationships that go beyond the sexual.

Lawrence Edelson describes Bedtime Stories as "a light hearted look into different relationships, and our quest to find the perfect mate."


Lawrence Edelson, choreographer


It was actually to enhance his presence and movement on stage as a singer that Lawrence Edelson began to take dance classes. Indeed it not only helped him but also led to new careers, as a dancer and a choreographer.

Lawrence began his dance training at The School of Dance in Ottawa, Canada to augment his studies as a Bachelor of Music Degree candidate in voice performance and musicology. Receiving a full scholarship to The Joffrey Ballet School, he moved to New York and trained with Trinette Singleton. Upon graduating from The Joffrey Ballet School Mr. Edelson joined Boston Ballet II and went on to dance with Boston Ballet. For those companies he danced a varied repertoire including the premieres of Donald Byrd’s Untitled at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and Merce Cunningham’s Breakers at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Following a season with Ballet West in Salt Lake City, Mr. Edelson joined BalletMet where he enjoyed dancing the company’s diverse repertoire.

In addition to his dance credits, he has sung principal roles in opera, oratorio and musical theater including Chevalier de la Force in Dialogues des Carmelites, Don Basilio in Le Nozze di Figaro, the tenor soloist in Charpentier’s Te Deum, and Baby John in West Side Story.

Lawrence began choreographing while still a student at the Joffrey Ballet School and was the youngest choreographer selected to participate in Bessie Schönberg’s choreography workshop at Jacob’s Pillow. Soon after he was chosen to choreograph at The Carlisle Project.

He has served as coordinator of the Joffrey Ballet School’s New Choreography Workshop at City Center, New York, and has created works for the Joffrey Ballet School and Joffrey Concert Dancers including Symphonic Etudes to music by Schumann and Poéme d’un Jour to songs by Fauré.

For Boston Ballet’s Dancers’ Resource Fund Benefit Performances Mr. Edelson choreographed Dance of the Seven Veils to Strauss’ score and Bright Blue to music by Torke. Recently he choreographed the dance and combat sequences for Opera/Columbus’ Carmen. Bedtime Stories is his first work for BalletMet. He is acting as advisor to Mr. Nixon on his musical selection for Beauty and the Beast.

Lawrence lives in New York City where he continues to choreograph while pursuing intensive vocal studies in the Bel Canto and 20th century operatic repertoire.


Johann Sebastian Bach, composer


One of the best known classical composers today, J.S. Bach, although celebrated as an organist, was not widely known as a composer in his lifetime. Only a few dozen of his compositions were published while he was still alive. In 1801 the publishing of the Well Tempered Klavier brought some recognition, but it is possibly the 1829 performance of the St. Matthew Passion in Berlin, conducted by Mendelssohn, that revived interest in his work.

J.S. Bach was born at Eisenach in 1685, the son of Johann Ambrosius Bach, an organist and town musician. Orphaned at the age of 10 he went to live with his older brother Johann Christoph in Ohrdruf where he studied organ and klavier. For three years from 1700 he was a chorister at St. Michael’s Church, Lünnenburg where he learned much from organist Georg Böhm. Bach was organist himself at Arnstadt and Mühlhaussen, where he married his cousin Maria Barbara.

From 1708 - 1717 he was organist at the Kapelle of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, leaving there to become Kappelmeister at the court of Anhalt-Cöthen where the prince’s interest was not in religious works but instrumental composition. It was here that he composed his Brandenburg Concertos.

In 1720 his wife died and in 1721 he married Anna Magdalena Wilken, a daughter of the court trumpeter. Due to the growing lack of interest in music at Cöthen, Bach applied for the cantorship at St. Thomas’s in Liepzig. Although not chosen for the post he eventually received the job due to the first choice, Graupner, withdrawing. Bach remained at St. Thomas’s the rest of his life. His eyesight began to fail him the last 10 years of his life, and he became totally blind for the last year. He died in Leipzig in 1750.

Return to BalletNotes Home Page