Written for Englewinds, Figure 8 Dance is a companion piece for honey bees as they follow the choreography and message of a figure 8 pattern and leave their home to forage for life-sustaining nectar and pollen. The instruments each represent a character or thing: the bassoon is the Queen Bee, the flute depicts worker bees. The rich, mellow-sounding English horn represents the comfort and safety of their home- the hive.
The jaunty opening melody is played by the bassoon, symbolizing the dance being ‘sung‘ by the Queen to encourage her workers to get busy. About two minutes into the piece, the mood becomes suspenseful, as the workers are told they must
leave their hive, fly out into the world and begin foraging for flowers, weeds and trees that provide them with their source of nourishment.
Once outside among the flowers, the workers begin to enjoy the fresh air and magnificent floral sights and smells (bar 45, triplets).
Eventually, the bees become so excited in their travels through gardens and flower beds that they grow intoxicated. When the Queen bee hears about this (from a tattler-forager) she summons them back to work...and back to work they go.
After some time, a human starts swatting some of the bees, and they warn the others that the person is also armed with a toxic spray.
Flying around ever-faster, they finally make their way back to the nest, just in time for another dance (this time it begins in a minor key). Now they make figure 8’s faster than ever and even introduce some new dance steps!