January 15, 2018
Lauren Wolfram, BAE graduate and current Carolina Ballet dancer, had the opportunity to perform with her father, renowned pianist William Wolfram. Lauren and William (Bill) each shared about what the collaboration meant to them. Please read on to learn about the unique and wonderful experience of blending art with family.
Performing with my dad was definitely something I dreamed about, but never imagined would really happen. It was such an exciting experience both rehearsing and performing with him. I have to admit that I couldn’t resist taking advantage of the situation, and asked for very specific tempos for my sections of the piece! During the performances, I was so focused on my dancing that I wasn’t thinking about the fact that my dad was the one playing. However, there was a moment at the end of my solo where I was lying on the floor and I suddenly lifted my head up. Because I was on the floor, the first thing I would see when I looked up was my dad at the piano. It was almost funny to see him so close, but also incredible to realize that the audience was watching something we were creating together. Unsurprisingly, my dad also became fast friends with many dancers, the backstage crew, and the entire costume department.
When Lauren and I recently performed in Robert Weiss's "Dialogues" with Carolina Ballet, it was indeed a dream come true. The thought of Lauren dancing with music provided by me on piano was a daydream that I had indulged in for years. But of course, reminiscing about a performance is the fun part - at the time, logistical realities and worries take over. In the Rachmaninoff Variations that I was playing, I usually started a variation, setting the tempo for the dancers. Since this was a live performance and not a recording, a tempo too slow or too fast can obviously cause big problems for the dancers on stage. In one variation, Lauren runs to the center of the stage and waits for the music to begin. I was always worried that she would tell me afterwards that I had played an impossible tempo and had ruined her entire variation! (It didn’t happen.) Ironically, other than seeing Lauren momentarily before starting to play, I was the ONLY person in the theater who couldn't watch her because I needed to look at my music the whole time! I did see a video afterwards, thankfully. It was an amazing opportunity, and I really hope it can happen again!!
Photo: Bill and Lauren Wolfram