April Zhi Li-Thompson

She begins by sharing how she learned to become better on the piano is to play in the hall of the hospital.  It was there that she gained the confidence for what she needed to become the pianist that she is today for the Houston Ballet Company.  She shares key tips on how to continuously improve the skills.  April also shares how piano teachers can assist their students in becoming pianists for ballet classes and eventually performances.

 

She has two favorite dance scores, one which makes her cry and the other is challenging and keeps her striving to improve.  April shares some helpful tips as to how she stays organized and ready to play for both classes and rehearsals.  This ensures that she is always playing the right portion of the score for the dancers and the ballet master.  Her two daughters love the piano, as well as dance, and her stories about each one will make viewers want to learn more about her and her family.

 

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Notation:

1. Slow 3 (plié and any adage) 2. Tango (fondu) 3. Quick 2 (tendu, dégagé) 4. Slow 3 (rond de jambe, Développé, stretch, adage) 5. Slow waltz (Balancé, waltz in center ) 6. Quick 3 (Pirouette in center) 7. Grand allegro (big jumps) 8. Quick 2 (petit jumps, coda) 9. Slow 3 (Reverence,adage)

 

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This piece is “April” Zhi Li-Thompson personal improvisation on the arrangement of Zigeunerweisen by PABLO DE SARASATE used in the movie Sissi-Fateful Years of an Empress.

 

 

She began playing piano at a very young age, after discovering it at her cousin’s house.  She shares her fabulous journey of getting her own piano and how she has played many places over the years, while also winning numerous awards.  Her husband plays musical instruments as well, but not the piano.  April shares what he plays and thinks that it is funny that all his instruments are within the lower range.  April spent many years working many different jobs, as she honed her skills and finally felt confident to learn how to play the piano for ballet classes.  It was a very long process that worked out in the end.  While she was working in New York City, her position with the Houston Ballet Company came by chance and she shares that story towards the end of this interview.  She wants to encourage everyone that plays piano to have fun and learn how to improvise, especially if they want to play for the ballet.  She plays different music for her younger ballet students, so that they have fun with their lessons and can eventually find their dream of performing on stage.

 

 

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