It's always a breath of fresh air when the musicians that will be performing with us arrive at the studio for a rehearsal with us. Here are the musicians that will play Just: from left to right, they are Gordon Rencher, Carol Rich, and Lorely Zgonc. (Artur Sultanov is sitting in the background).
Normally, for most of the daily rehearsals in the studio we either work with a CD recording of the music or have a rehearsal pianist. Irina Goldberg is our accompanist for class (she also plays for many of the school classes) and rehearsals for certain ballets-- ones for which there is a piano reduction of the full orchestral score. Any live accompaniament is preferable to a recording for a variety of reasons (and this goes double for performances!). For one reason, it's LIVE. And so are we. An analogy I can think of right now (given current events at the moment) is that it's like the difference you might imagine between being present to hear someone give a speech, versus listening to it on the radio later on. You'd likely pick up on many different senses of the person speaking, their energy, their implications and nuances, that you would not get from hearing the recording. Same goes for live music versus taped. A dancer will always respond differently and more sensitively when they are dancing with another artist making the music.
There are logistical reasons why having a live accompanist is better, too. We're constantly starting and stopping in rehearsals, and being able to say, "Ok, Irina, let's go back to so-and-so's entrance", or "once again, two 8's from the top", instead of fiddling with the CD player until you've found the right spot, saves us a lot of time (and frustration).
Most exciting, and illustrative of the stark difference between tape and live music, is when we've been rehearsing with a CD and then have a rehearsal with the musicians that will play for the performances. Oftentimes, when the particular ballet is played by a small number of musicians, they will come to the studio for a rehearsal or two before we meet at the theater for dress rehearsal (which is typically our only rehearsal with the orchestra before we perform). The sound of their music filling the studio is so glorious and rich, and so energizing, that it gives us all a sense of something bigger than we are-- a renewed purpose, inspiration, vision of the big picture that is easy to lose sight of in the midst of the narrow-focused, nitty-gritty, daily work.
Here's Irina, before playing for class one day during Nutcracker at the Keller auditorium. She doesn't always wear a tiara (it was Christmas Eve, as I recall, and we were all decorated for the occasion).