Bolero was written for a ballet as a composition to be danced to and not listened to alone. Ravel said ‘It has no music in it’ and was surprised by the critical acclaim it received. It was one of the last pieces of music he wrote. Torvill and Dean invited a composer to edit the 17 minute original to fit the Olympic time limit of 4 minutes 10 seconds but they were told the minimum time to which it could be condensed was 4 minutes 28 seconds. However, if their skates did not touch the ice for the first 18 seconds then it would be acceptable. The play will be written to respond to the structure of the music and echo the rhythm of the original composition. It will start with 18 seconds of stillness.
Ravel developed a brain injury due to a car accident that led to his death in 1937. Scientists suggest that the rhythm of Bolero exhibits symptoms of this neurological disorder. The city of Sarajevo, a thriving tourist destination, went from an Olympic host to a wartorn wasteland in the early 1990s. The play makes a conceptual journey from creativity to decay, composition to conflict. I am interested in the marks made on a musical manuscript and the marks left on the ice after a dance routine as much as the scars left on a life after a car accident or on a city after warfare. I will visit the Olympic Ice Stadium in Sarajevo and the home of Maurice Ravel on the outskirts of Paris. These two trips will be undertaken separately and bookend a period of research and development into how the two stories might co-exist.