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Photo: Patrick Frenette.

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November 16, 2023

Music is considered by many dancers and choreographers to be the driving force of movement, imbuing steps with emotion and expression. With a live musician accompanying the dancers, this is taken one step further—the dancer can now feel the music motivate their movements, adding a depth of sound that is lost with a recorded version.  

Central to the diverse repertoire presented at the David H. Koch Theater in the 2023 Fall season, American Ballet Theatre’s musicians played classical scores of technical rigor and complexity. In many of these arrangements, the pianists held prominent roles in propelling both the score and the dancers. Learn more about the ABT’s pianists and their experiences this past Fall season! 

Emily Wong

Emily Wong at the curtain call for <em>Ballet Imperial</em>. Photo: Rosalie O'Connor.
Emily Wong at the curtain call for Ballet Imperial. Photo: Rosalie O'Connor.

Tell us a bit about your history as a musician.

I’m a “Juilliard pianist” and piano competition winner, but I’ve also had a lot of my own compositions performed, symphonies, an opera, chamber music, and solo piano. I’ve also been a very dedicated teacher, now for a select few since ABT occupies my time.

In your own words, describe the solo piece you are playing this season, “Tchaikovsky’s Concerto No. 2 in G for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 44” in George Balanchine’s Ballet Imperial.

… grand, brilliant, virtuosic, beautiful, and a lot of fun!

What is challenging or taxing about playing this piece? 

It’s physically very demanding, with lots of technical challenges and intricate work, and requires the stamina to sustain that for 40 minutes.

Are you doing anything special or different to work on this piece? What do rehearsals look like, compared to your own independent practice?

On my own I do a lot of slow work to smooth out connections and to memorize. And I daydream about musical ideas…

It’s fun to work in collaboration with dancers on building interesting nuance and phrasing, and work towards a common artistic vision.

What is exciting and rewarding about this piece?

It’s one of those pieces that makes you fall in love with Tchaikovsky all over again!

What does this season mean to you?

I’m thrilled Susan Jaffe has programmed this brilliant piece this season. It’s such a highlight!