After the Dance begins with an agile scherzo, characterized by frequent shifts between naivety and wickedness. Instrumentation is restricted for some time, causing the orchestra to be unable to fulfill its efforts at creating climaxes. For a while the orchestra toys with a few motives with no real consequence, until the trumpets tear apart any remaining façade of innocence and drag the piece into a ferocious region. At the height of a lacerating climax, the entire force of the orchestra is funneled into a pair of bass clarinets, which attempt to suppress the orchestra’s energy. The bass clarinets can contain this power temporarily, but are eventually overcome and extinguished. A dark-humored death march follows the bass clarinets’ demise, as if the orchestra is mocking them for their hubris. The death march finishes the piece, recontextualizing motives previously heard in the scherzo.