An Austrian music professor goes to the dogs,
by TESS CREBBIN
When a respected professor of music shows up at one of Europe's largest international dog shows and is billed on the program, the question arises for any good music magazine to ask what is going on there. The Dortmund International Dog Show of Europe's Best Dogs is one of the largest in continental Europe, with a total of 6000 dogs representing 240 different breeds. Imagine one's surprise when meeting there the well-known Austrian professor of music, Dr Ekard Lind, who was not in attendance as a spectator, but as a performer! Professor Lind used to teach at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, specializing in concert guitar and what they call Instumentale Füherziehung, which means early music education. He also used to tour the world as a solo performer, playing classical guitar. Then a medical accident put an end to his career as a concert performer and gave rise to an entirely new field of music that is as yet in its early stages: canine choreography. This is a very interesting form of dance choreography where each dancer in the ensemble is being teamed up with a canine partner with whom he dances together closely.
'When a medical accident left my hand badly infected, and me unable to continue my career as a musical performer,' explains professor Lind, 'I thought that where one door closes another one opens, so I went and looked for that door.' As a hobby, he had always taken part with his own dog in search and rescue training, and so he decided to use his knowledge of music, his additional training in classical choreography and his love for dogs, combining these into a new career. 'I had occupied myself a lot with the ideal posture when playing an instrument,' he says, 'and, for instance, had invented a playing position for classical guitar that borrowed from the idea of the cello stand. So for me, posture was always a big issue. This led me to the idea of combining the use of human ballet dancers with dogs, resulting in a kind of dog choreography. Having access to great dancers was no problem: my daughter studies dance in Vienna, and so through her I had a lot of contacts.'
He now has a show called Lind-art that he takes on the road nationwide, a kind of canine ballet where classical and modern dancers combine their steps with those of the dogs, who are capable of walking forward and backward in perfect rhythm with the music.
Canine choreography - the Lind-art dance performance at the 2005 Dortmund International Dog Show. Photo © Philip Crebbin
'I wrote several books about how to use the concept of joy to educate one's dog, or how to play correctly with dogs,' he says. 'Then I transferred this thought of playful learning, which I use in early musical education with human children, onto working with dogs in a choreography.'
Copyright © 15 May 2005
Tess Crebbin, Germany