Rachel Short, Ph.D Candidate in Music Theory, to Present at Society for Music Theory’s 38th Annual Meeting

Rachel Short, Ph.D candidate in Music Theory, will present her paper “Three Sailors, Three Musical Personalities: Choreo-musical Analysis of the Solo Variations in Fancy Free,” at the Society for Music Theory’s 38th Annual Meeting in St. Louis, MO on Friday, October 30, 2015.

Ms. Short has previously presented a version of this paper at Music Theory Midwest’s 25th Annual Conference, where she received Honorable Mention for the Komar Award for Best Student Paper.

Read the abstract for the paper below:


"The ballet Fancy Free premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1944, marking the beginning of the creative collaboration between composer Leonard Bernstein and choreographer Jerome Robbins. This paper presents a choreo-musical analysis of the ballet exploring the intertwining relationships between music and dance. I argue that the complementary metric and rhythmic choices create unique characterizations for each of the three sailors’ solo variations in the sixth movement. The placement and repetition of rhythmic and choreographic phrases distinguish the personalities of each sailor.

Building on recent discussions by music theorists and dance scholars, my analysis aligns the dance steps alongside musical analysis to see how they inform each other, paying close attention to choreographic and musical accents. The energetic first variation features the acrobatic, gregarious sailor, and the tension between choreographic and musical phrases depicts a man of vigor. I focus on the second variation, which while titled “Waltz” is not in a pure triple meter. I illustrate how the choreography can confirm or contradict the waltz topic, portraying the sailor’s unassuming playfulness. The third movement is the most metrically straightforward and the choreography matches effortlessly with the main motives, providing a slick characterization for the group’s suave leader. I take this in-depth look at the Fancy Free variations to illustrate how choreo-musical analysis can enrich our understanding of the synergy of music and movement."


Ms. Short's dissertation research focuses on the collaboration between Leonard Bernstein and Jerome Robbins in their early ballets Fancy Free and Facsimile. Other research interests include tonal/Schenkerian analysis, theory pedagogy, popular music, text-music relationships, and musical theatre.

She graduated summa cum laude from Point Loma Nazarene University where she studied music theory/composition and accounting. In 2010 she received a M.A. from Queens College, City University of New York, in Music Theory. Her Masters thesis, under the guidance of Mark Anson-Cartwright, is entitled “Wort and Ton: Methods of German Lieder Analysis.”

At Queens, CUNY Rachel taught a course in keyboard/applied theory for undergraduate music majors. She has enjoyed her posts as teaching assistant for both Music Appreciation and Music Fundamentals at UCSB. She has also taught various private students and group lessons in music, accounting, voice, tap, acting, and SAT prep in New York City and San Diego. She was the Musical Director for shows in San Diego and New Jersey and composed music for the original musical “Gretel & Hansel,” which she also choreographed. She was commissioned to arrange music for Broadway stars during Bryant Park Holiday, and has orchestrated, arranged and transposed music for singers and small instrument combos.

Rachel has also been active as a performer: as a solo singer and as a member of various choirs, notably UCSB Gospel Choir, Queens College Vocal Ensemble, Central City Chorus & Glad Tidings Tabernacle Choir in New York City. She has been seen onstage at regional theatres and in national tours, including a tour of Camelot starring Robert Goulet. Favorite performance arenas include Lamb’s Players Theatre, the Lawrence Welk Resort Theatre, Starlight Musical Theatre, Sea World, North Carolina Theatre, and the Empire State Building as a singer, dancer, actress, and pianist.

She has been granted various awards and scholarships, most notably the Carl Schachter Award for Theory at Queens College. When not studying, performing, or researching, she enjoys spending time with her husband and young daughter and son. She enjoys sharing her love of music with her children and her students.

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