The Vienna State's Ballet offerings often take audiences on a journey across schools and styles, and Promethean Fire is no exception. This modern ballet performance combines the artistic talents of three star choreographers, each of them with a unique approach and vision. Paul Taylor and Mark Morris deliver the two main portions of the programme, while Vienna’s own Martin Schläpfer contributes two beautiful ballet miniatures that serve as a creative transition. Together, the three artists’ works combine into one memorable and colourful evening that celebrates the varied and free genre of modern dance.
‘Promethean Fire’ is the opening piece that also gives the whole performance its name. It is the brainchild of choreographer Paul Taylor, one of American modern dance’s last surviving aristocrats until his death in 2018. Known for the intense social commentary and raw emotion of his works, Taylor purportedly created ‘Promethean Fire’ in 2002 as a response to the September 11 attacks on New York City, his adopted hometown. Set to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, in innovative orchestration by Leopold Stokowski, the performance has 16 dancers explore the stage space with intricate and technical movements that convey a roster of spiritual and emotional conditions.
Next come two ballet miniatures by Martin Schläpfer, ‘Lontano’ (2009) and ‘Ramifications’ (2005). Powered by the avant-garde compositions of Hungarian composer Györgi Ligeti, the two short dance routines bring the heat of the performance down and infuse the air with dreamy lightness in preparation for the final piece: ‘Beaux’ by Mark Morris. As the title already suggests, nine handsome male dancers take the stage in a symphony of movement that showcases their technical skill and reveals their boyish exhilaration on the one hand and their gentlemanly strength on the other. The harpsichord compositions of Bohuslav Martinu drive the onstage action with their innate energy and cascading melodies and counterpoints. Promethean Fire at the Wiener Volksoper brings together three visionary choreographers for one powerhouse dance medley.