~ Interview by Lucas Batista, Marketing Director at Ballegro Player
Ballegro Founder, Yawen, has been a multi-terrain interdisciplinary artist and dance pianist for over 20 years. She has worked with major ballet companies and schools across Canada such as Ballet BC, Alberta Ballet, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Arts Umbrella, Harbour Dance Centre, École Supérieure de Ballet du Québec, Danse à la Carte, Les Studios at Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal. She recognized the needs of the ballet teachers, and the challenges of not always having a ballet pianist on demand. To bridge the gap, Yawen created Ballegro - Your Smart Virtual Ballet Pianist Music App - for ballet studios, teachers and students, providing a one-stop tool when live pianists are a much harder option.
In this interview, Yawen shares the secret that has been driving this creation behind the scene - her passion to move in space and to move the world.
“I am a creator. I create. I thrive when I create things. I sit down at the piano and I play music. I move in the space, and I create movement. As a pianist, composer, and musical director, I have worked in theatre, musical theatre, in dance, and on concert stage. I was classically trained as a concert pianist.”
“I love working at 110%. Working at that intensity really makes me happy. I love focus, I love concentration, and I love passion at the moment. When I sit down at the piano, it’s natural for me to want to give 110%. It feels good when I really play with my heart and soul, and give the best piece of music to every exercise, because when the music and movement fit, it’s just sublime. There’s no other word for it. There’s actually no word for it! I love to see those moments. When I play, I look at their face, and when everything works, you can tell. There’s this light or something on their face. You see a little smile. They jump higher and bigger, because the music is giving them the energy. You can feel it. You look at their face, you look at how they dance, and you know you’re playing the right music. And when you play with heart and soul, they do notice. It’s in the music, in the nuance of each note. I feel good and they feel inspired.
“I love to inspire people because internally, I get inspired. I think I always think and do things outside the box. It’s natural for me to always challenge the status quo. When certain things are done conventionally or in a certain way, when I was told to do things in a certain way, naturally I have this critical thinking. I ask “is it really the only way”? What if we go outside this box, try something different? I have been like that since I was a child. I always think a little bit differently from the rest of the crowd, and this hasn’t always been easy. Especially, my mom got freaked out having a daughter who was different. She really wanted to me blend in. She really wanted me to be the same as everybody else. She had a hard time raising me. Somehow, although it hasn’t always been easy, I always seem to have a way of achieving at something, and telling people “See?! I made it, It’s outside the box, It IS possible!”
“I have been hearing all the same complaints and difficulties from Ballet teachers. Unless they have a good ballet pianist, they feel really stuck musically. It takes a tremendous amount of time to find the right music on iTunes, or on CDs. They told me they had to spend a lot of time doing that musical job, whereas what they love to do is to teach dance! They rely a lot on the musician. When they use CDs, there’s no tempo control. It’s either too fast or too slow. It has to be the right tempo! When they search on iTunes, they have to spend lots of time previewing each song, and decide which song they want to download, and if they want to change the tempo, they need to find an app that does that! So, what they need to do is import the music into the app. Before that, they actually had to buy the music by the track, download it onto their computer, and they have to sync it up to their phone. It’s a lot of steps for them to do, so I just created Ballegro, to make it easy for people.”
Ballegro Player is music streaming app that recreates the experience of having a Live Pianist. It features an ever-expanding Ballet Music Library with a unique Music Player; it lets you adjust the tempo and helps dance teachers or any dancer to practice in the tempo that they need. Moreover, you can upload your own music, and play your personal music collection while accessing all the Ballegro features. Our Smart Virtual Ballet Pianist helps dancers find their ideal music for practice by exercises, by lengths, by rhythms, by genres, by pianists and by PdB endtag options. It is a creation and experience, that models after how a ballet pianist thinks, by providing an ever-expanding Music Library, Smart Search Filters, and a built-in Music Player designed to optimize teaching and allow dancers to practice anywhere, anytime, any tempo.