Harriet Cavalli was born in Rochester, New York, and studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. After four years of playing the Cecchetti syllabus and for tap and open classes in the Boston area, she moved to New York City with her family in 1962. Her close association with Perry Brunson began at this time at the Ballet Russe School of Dance; she was his accompanist for a large part of his teaching career, and he was also her first and most influential ballet teacher.
From 1962 until 1970 Ms. Cavalli worked for most of the major dance institutions in New York, such as the Joffrey and Harkness Ballets and American Ballet Theatre, among others. From 1971 to 1974 she was with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet; from 1974 to 1979 she worked for the First Chamber Dance Company in Seattle as both executive administrator and music director of the company, as well as continuing her association with Mr. Brunson in their trainee program; and from 1979 to 1983 she was with John Neumeier at the Hamburg (Germany) State Opera, and in Switzerland with Riccardo Duse (Bern) and Oscar Araiz (Geneva).
From 1983 until 1986 she was principal accompanist and teacher of dance history and music for dancers at the Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. She was arranger and soloist for Mark Morris's Canonic 3/4 Studies. Returning to Europe, she was with Uwe Scholz and the Zurich Opera Ballet (1986-1988), Heinz Spoerli and the Basel Ballet (1988-1991), and François Klaus and Martin Schläpfer and the Bern Ballet (1991-1999). She currently works with Mr. Schläpfer's BallettMainz at the Mainz State Theater in Germany.
Ms. Cavalli has made numerous records, cassettes, and CDs for ballet classes, the latest of which were with Mr. Schläpfer. She specializes in teaching music for dance teachers and for dancers, as well as training pianists in the art of dance accompaniment, and has given numerous seminars in Europe and the United States on these topics. She has given regular lessons in ballet to professional dancers over the years. And having played for more than 400 dance teachers has given her unique insight into the communication process between the two protagonists in the dance classroom.
The German version of this book, Tanz und Musik, appeared in 1998 through the sponsorship and support of the Swiss Ballet Teachers' Association.
Ms. Cavalli has studied ballet with Perry Brunson, Maria Swoboda, Flemming Halby, Donna Silva, and Martin Schläpfer.
In July of 2002, due to health reasons, she gave up her position as Martin Schläpfer's pianist with BallettMainz in Germany, and is now living in Corvallis, Oregon.