The Chairman Dances is a 1985 composition by John Adams, subtitled Foxtrot for Orchestra and lasting about 13 minutes. A commission from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, it has several dance-like tunes and has been described by Adams as an “outtake” from Act III of the opera he was working on at the time, Nixon in China. The word “Dances” in the title is a verb, not a noun. In the opera, the music depicts Madame Mao gate-crashing a presidential banquet, hanging paper lanterns, and performing a seductive dance; Chairman Mao descends from his portrait, and the two dance a foxtrot, back in time together. The piece ends with the sound of a gramophone winding down.

The Chairman Dances was later included (not by the composer) in the Civilization IV and I Am Love soundtracks.

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Upcoming BBC Events featuring The Chairman Dances

BBC Concert Orchestra 2019-20 Southbank Centre Season: Bang On!
Southbank Centre, London

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