The music on Dance Nos. 1-5 was originally conceived as a three-way collaboration between composer Philip Glass, choreographer Lucinda Childs and artist Sol LeWitt. Dance received its world premiere in Amsterdam on October 19, 1979 and its New York premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on November 29, 1979.
Post-dating Einstein on the Beach - Glass's 1975-76 collaboration with director Robert Wilson - Dance was another Glass collaboration, this time with choreographer Lucinda Childs, known for her austere, athematically exact dances, and artist Sol LeWitt, who provided a ghostly, gigantic black- and-white film for several of the piece's five sections.
Dance has an abstract purity that easily earned it the label “minimalist,” a term that Glass himself disavows but that seems appropriate, at least in this case. After Dance, Glass's music took several turns, not so much in style as in the various new contexts in which it was presented: major opera commissions and film scores led him to write for forces other than those of the Philip Glass Ensemble. At the same time, an attempt to reach a wide audience resulted in some shorter, perhaps more accessible, narrative pieces. Dance marked the blossoming of the composer's experimental work. Here, though, the music - particularly Dance Nos. “1”, “3” and “5”, all written for the Ensemble-has an unforgettable exuberance that somehow speaks all at once of joyful innocence, intense erotic desire, tenderness, regret and, finally, acceptance. On the other hand, Dance Nos. “2” and “4” see Glass composing several large-scale works for solo organ; for instance, Dance No. 2 originated as a 1978 work entitled Fourth Series Part Two. This piece, later incorporated into Dance, and Dance No. “4” as well, have a more subdued, more darkly romantic quality than the work's other sections and are quite unlike anything Glass had previously written. Still, they too, with their mysterious tilts of time and key signatures, continue the exploration of polyrhythms and harmonic complexities within the context of Glass's repetitive, “minimalist” style.
The complete Dance Nos. 1-5 album is now available on vinyl for the first time in its entirety on a 3LP-set with five sides of music. The 3 LP's are housed in a heavyweight sleeve.