This week we’re sticking with this theme of ‘what inspires you?,’ but instead of dancers, I (Michael) have chosen a song. “Anvil Chorus” by Glenn Miller is a tune that I discovered a few years ago by accident when searching for performance tracks, and from the first few bars of that driving high hat cymbal, my pulse began to race, and I was hooked.
Once the the reeds came in with their theme, right then I knew that I wanted to choreograph a routine to the song. From the creeping saxophones at the beginning in which I saw dancers somehow in a low posture, stalking across the stage to the triumphant muted trumpets’ theme at almost a minute-and-a-half in, I could see a large cast of dancers moving in and out of shapes and formations. It’s the kind of track that has so many layers, so much going on that it seems like anything is possible, yet almost like too much is possible.
The tempo is quite high and driving, all while continually changing phrasing. One of the first things I do when I want to choreograph a song is map out the 8s – draw up the structure of the song, so I can see what I’m working with. Does the song use standard 32-bar phrasing or it a blues structure? If you know what I’m talking about, then you can hear how this song adheres to neither of those Jazz structures. I challenge you to map this song into sections and see if you have a better time of it than I did.
Beyond all of that, the song had a familiarity to me, yet I couldn’t quite pinpoint where I had heard it before. Thanks to the power of the Internet, I came to learn that the “Anvil Chorus” is more famously known as “Coro di zingari” (Italian Gypsy chorus) from Giuseppe Verdi’s Il Trovatore. I used to play the French Horn, so classical music was always something I enjoyed listening to and playing. And now as a swing dancer, there’s something even more satisfying to hear straight rhythms and melodies reimagined in a swingin’ way.
Ultimately, I never succeeded in putting a full routine together to “Anvil Chorus.” My vision of it was more grand than the number of dancers and time I had at my disposal. And while his oeuvre has many famous standards, I must admit that I’ve never thought of Glenn Miller as the swingy-est of band leaders. However, this song gets me moving every time, so I hope you enjoy a little Lindy inspiration,
Leave a comment below and let us know what song inspires you most!
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