When Classical Music Meets Urban Ballet: Yo Yo Ma and Lil Buck

I believe I’ve lived a charmed life. I will keep believing it till my dying day and I say this because of all the things that I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of.

When I was living in Mexico City, I had the opportunity to sit in on rehearsals of a contemporary dance company called Ballet Teatro del Espacio. I would photograph them from time to time and even sit in a box at a performance in the Teatro de Bellas Artes in the Historic Center. I loved watching the movement paired with the music and it always was something I learned to appreciate and do so to this day.

So to hear Yo Yo Ma perform while urban dancer, Lil Buck, for lack of a better word, emoted, I felt profoundly moved. It was like being in those rehearsals again, watching pain unravel and a smile soar. I recalled the poise of a point shoe and the searching movement of hands, fall into a controlled tilt. And all I could see was fusion, healthy and beautiful, something I would have seen in that studio so many years ago.

It was as if I saw the delicate descent of a daisy petal, as it tailspins.

I used to not understand dance. I used to not understand classical music. A kid’s thing, I suppose, where you become bored in the first two seconds. But there is something there in movement and music that makes me wonder and remember how fragile one is, at the same time how strong a heart can be. And it is refreshing to know that in the days of automation, I can still feel the pull of a heartstring when the musician’s bow crosses a cello’s arc, shoots through a dancer’s body and strikes a viewer’s heart.


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