“Dancing with the Devil” is a common exhortation that suggests that someone is flirting with sin, corruption, or disaster. It is therefore a common dance that everyone revels in from time to time, but to my knowledge no music has ever been written to accompany it. Hence this piece.
The work was commissioned by the Society for New Music and premiered in 1997. It draws upon the composer’s jazz roots (though elements of Klezmer and American fiddle music may be heard), while being steeped in the contemporary “art” music tradition. The work gradually gains exuberance and intensity as the devil persists and the dance becomes increasingly wild. It was commissioned by the Society for New Music with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, amd received its premiere in February, 1998.