Dancing the Bolero in my SUV

3 May

I was listening to the classical music station while driving the 15 minutes home from town the other day, and a piece of music came on the radio that I hadn’t heard in a long time. A piece of music that is steeped in my family’s lore. A piece of music about which no one can be neutral.

I’m talking about Maurice Ravel’s Bolero.

I don’t know that I remember the very first time I heard this famous piece of music, but I do remember the first time I was old enough to understand my mother’s feelings about it.

She was not amused.

In fact, if there is any piece of classical music that my mother can be said to hate, it would be Bolero. I think mom’s issue with it is that she hates the repetition of it and she hates the way it makes her heart beat in the rhythm of the drums.

Mom is not a fan of drums.

My father and sister, on the other hand, love it. My dad’s love for it might come more from teasing my mom about it than from real love, I’m not sure. My sister, though, will turn the music up loud and dance around the house and, if I know her, collapse on the floor dramatically at the culmination. Well, if she doesn’t, she should.

The first time I remember hearing Bolero, I decided that I hated it, too. I decided this for several reasons. One being that it was different than anything I’d heard before, and was, therefore, suspect. (My parents listened exclusively to classical music, but this was NOT like the usual stuff they listened to.)

But the main reason I disliked it was that Mom disliked it.

Now I don’t disparage my mom at all in this telling – everyone is entitled to their opinion and, as a mom myself now, I know how hard it is to never express my opinion on anything and thereby impact my children’s opinions about those very things. It’s impossible. And our kids pick up on that.

When I first heard Bolero, I was at the age where whatever my mom thought, I thought as well. I remember looking at the Sears catalog with Mom once (remember those honking huge catalogs, the stuff of dreams and visions and uplift for short guests at the dinner table?) and every dress that she liked, I liked. I remember echoing her views about the dresses, and my sister saying scornfully, “You only like that because Mom likes it.”

“I do not!” I said. But suddenly it dawned on me that I did.

It was the beginning of autonomy.

But I had not yet reached that when Bolero came along.

And so, for many years (not giving a lot of thought to Ravel or his Bolero) I disliked it.

And then one day, along about late high school or early college, it dawned on me that I actually liked Bolero! I actually got a kick out of the repetition, the change in each repeat, the different instruments entering in (and trying to identify those instruments as they did so), the rise in volume and intensity. I especially liked the rapid slide at the end, signifying the dancer’s collapse on the stage in an exhausted heap. (At least in my mind that’s always what happens at the end!)

All these thoughts went through my mind as we drove home the other day – dancing along as best I could while in the driver’s seat – listening to Bolero.

And my daughter, in all her five-year old wisdom, said (without prompting), “I don’t like this music! Can we listen to something else?”

I laughed out loud and turned up the volume.

Being very careful to keep my opinions to myself as I did so.

When we got home, I stopped the car in the driveway and we listened to the last couple minutes. I laughed in delight when it came to a crashing end.

My daughter’s response? “Finally it’s over! Can I put on Veggie Tales now?”

I found this link to Bolero on You Tube and it’s 5 minutes of your life that will not be wasted if you give it a watch. It is vastly shortened from its usual 15 or so minutes, but that’s fine – you can find the whole thing on You Tube or anywhere else if you like.

This is a “flash-mob” made up of members from the Copenhagen Philharmonic in Copenhagen’s Central Station. I love the way the musicians gradually enter in (which is so perfect for Bolero, as it’s a gradually building piece of music), and the realization that dawns on the faces of the audience as they sit on the floor, point, whisper, and clap wildly at the end.

I absolutely love this video.

If you’d rather watch it actually on You Tube, click below.

Ravel’s Bolero


26 Responses to “Dancing the Bolero in my SUV”

  1. marimann May 3, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    Gretchen, your post and that video have made my morning!

  2. Minnesota Prairie Roots May 3, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    What a lovely ride home with you. Love the song. I’ll have to ask my 18-year-old son if he knows this song. He listens to only Classical music. Great way to begin my day. Thank you.

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 3, 2012 at 9:12 am #

      Any time, Audrey!! I bet your son knows it…if not, play the video for him!

  3. Just A Smidgen May 3, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    Love this!! I wonder if the crowd knew they were listening to such talent? I adore classical music and this is fantastic!!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 3, 2012 at 9:13 am #

      I know – it’s so fun that such talented people were willing to pull off such a thing. So very fun. I’ve never witnessed a “flash mob” – but I’d love to witness one like this!

  4. Gian John Banchero May 3, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Yep, I was looking for motivation to start the day and your gift of Bolero did the trick, thanks Gretchen!!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 3, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

      So glad it did the trick! Fantastic! Thanks so much for your comment. I hope your whole day is great!

  5. Jenny May 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Oh my that was stupendous!!!! Thank you. I do absolutely love that piece of music. The video could only have been better if it had been the whole 16 minutes long! I’m so glad my blood pressure likes it!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

      🙂 I am also glad! There were a lot of versions of it posted, but this one was perfect – not too long so that people don’t have to make a huge commitment, and also so fun there in the station! So glad you liked it!

  6. cravesadventure May 3, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    This is twice I have heard this Bolero mentioned today; in your blog post and in the new book I started reading – weird, just saying! Have a Great Day!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 3, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

      Well, that’s wild. It must be a sign…of what, I don’t know! Sounds like you need to listen to it more often!

  7. Emily May 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    Although I couldn’t remember if I’d heard “Bolero” before, I enjoyed this entire post–especially those photos–and then when I got to the video I thought, “Oh, yes!” I viewed it maybe a year ago, and you’re right, it is fantastic. Thanks for giving me a reason to watch it again. 🙂

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 4, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

      Always glad to lend a hand! ha. Thanks, Emily! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  8. Kimberly May 3, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    As Mother’s Day draws near, my thoughts often go to my own mother. She shared her opinions on EVERYTHING. She would have hated Bolero too. I, on the other hand, love it for it’s sheer theatricality. Thank you for sharing this. I shall now collapse on the couch dramatically!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 4, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

      LOL! I am so glad that you, too, enjoy it – and that you can dance to it with abandon! Yes, it is theatrical – good description.

  9. whatimeant2say May 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm #

    That is amazing!

  10. prairiewisdom May 4, 2012 at 8:36 pm #

    I love the video. A friend emailed a link to the flashmob Bolero video a while ago and it is absolutely fantastic!

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 5, 2012 at 9:59 am #

      I had never seen it and when I did I said, “This is exactly what I want!” So very fun.

  11. Paws To Talk May 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm #

    Great post! We all have to form our own opinions in our own time. Two paws up for the video 🙂

    Bella and DiDi

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

      Yes, it’s good to grow up and think for ourselves! The video is definitely a hit. Interesting how many people love it!

  12. Malou May 5, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    Beautiful pictures and I love the video too, Gretchen. 😉

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

      Thank you – the flowering trees were great this year. The lilacs, not so much. Not sure what went wrong with them. So glad you enjoyed the video!

  13. hotlyspiced May 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    I love Bolero but like you, I haven’t heard it for a very long time. Love the images in this post Gretchen xx

    • Gretchen O'Donnell May 14, 2012 at 11:03 am #

      It’s a great piece of music, isn’t it? I need to listen to it more often!!!

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