The votes are in. Now ABC Classic FM is involved in what its Content Manager Toby Chadd describes as “a joyous scramble” to get ready for this year’s Classic 100 Countdown, which will air over the long weekend, June 9 – 11. Meanwhile, others are collecting the material for an 8CD box set of the Top 100 to be launched on June 11.

“We actually have no idea what music we’re going to be playing on that weekend until the voting closes, because the entire weekend is made up of listener requests,” says Chadd. “So as soon as voting closes our colleagues in the record label have the time of their lives trying to put the box set together, and then we start thinking about who would be interesting to have on to talk about the particular bits of the music. So at the moment that’s actually a work in development.”

This year the Classic 100 celebrates dance – not only music written for dance, but any classical music that makes people feel like dancing. The Countdown will take place on ABC Classic FM all day on June 9 and 10, with the 100 tracks, and the order in which they appear, a precise reflection of voting. Then on June 11, it will be a day of recaps and highlights.

“The subject of dance is one we’ve been wanting to do in the Classic 100 for many years,” says Chadd. “This is the 15th Classical 100 that we’ve run, and obviously the interesting thing about dance is that it’s a fundamentally visual medium even though there’s such an enormous amount of music that’s been written for it.”

“But one of the key reasons why we’ve decided to do dance this year is because through a partnership with The Australian Ballet, we’re actually going to be bringing that visual element to life. The Australian Ballet will be choreographing [works to] some of the pieces that come towards the top of the countdown. They have given those to some of their choreographers and dancers within the company, basically to give a response to those pieces. We’ve given them a really broad, creative canvas to work with. And then we’ll be releasing those films through our website during the countdown on June 9 and 10. That’s going to be a really interesting way of getting some new responses.”

Over the last few weeks ABC Classic FM has played a lot of ballet scores during the evening concerts. “We’ve then got feature programming that kicked off this week which is looking in detail at the music that came out of that extraordinary culture of Louis XIV, the Sun King and Versailles. He was an absolute dance nut and we’re going to be looking at that dance culture that he developed,” says Chadd.

“Christopher Lawrence is doing a couple of programs, one of which is on St Petersburg and one of which is on Argentina, the home of the tango. The Opera Show is going to be looking at the way dance has been featured in opera, so we’re really using this as an opportunity to look quite broadly at phenomenon that is dance and music. We’ve also commissioned Dr Ann Jones, who is a broadcaster for Radio National, where she presents Off Track, to create a three-part documentary series called Why Dance. She’s worked with The Australian Ballet, Sydney Dance Company, and Bangarra Dance Theatre – they obviously all work on very different aspects of the world of dance – to look at some of the issues around how you can construct dance. Ann’s actually been going and talking to a lot of dancers and putting together these podcasts for us as well [which will run] in the week of the countdown.”

During the weekend itself, a number of people will chat with the presenters. “We’re looking firstly at people who really know about dance in depth, people who have danced and who have choreographed, who know that world back to front, and they can give us an insight from that perspective,” say Chadd. “But then we’re also looking to get people on air who don’t necessarily have that dance background, but like all of us listen to music and have our toes tapping as well.”


The Classic 100 Dance airs June 9 – 11 on ABC Classic FM

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