Forsythe / Van Manen / Kylián
The Vienna State Opera stages a unique showcase of the work of three grand modern choreographers that traces the development of their style and artistic sensibility. In Forsythe | van Manen | Kylián, fans of modern ballet will find many of the elements that predate and guide major developments in contemporary dance. On the storied stage of Austria’s preeminent classical performance venue, the enjoyment of this rare spectacle is guaranteed.
The evening begins with William Forsythe’s re-imagining of his seminal 1984 stage work ‘Artifact’. The American-born choreographer who built his dancing and choreographing career in Germany takes the pivotal moments of his original performance, once dubbed an “ode to ballet”, and packs them into a condensed, much more intense experience he calls the ‘Artifact Suite’. Backed by classical music by Johann Sebastian Bach and Eva Crossman-Hecht, a musical collaborator of Forsythe’s since their shared tenure at the Frankfurt Ballet, the Suite is “a ballet about ballet” and a creative tour de force.
Next in the programme are two works by the Dutch dancer and choreographer Hans van Manen. A highly regarded and accoladed figure in European dance, van Manen stands out with his distinct and malleable style. Having two of his projects performed side by side provides unique insight into the subtle shifts in his creative approach. ‘Trois Gnossiennes’, based on the famously experimental, free-time piano compositions by Erik Satie, take the amorphous musical base and build similarly fluent choreography upon it. ‘Solo’, in contrast, features an energetic and tight performance set to a fast-paced violin melody by J. S. Bach.
The evening closes with Jiří Kylián’s classic ‘Psalmensymphonie’ from 1978. As artistic director of the Dutch Dans Theater, Kylián established the ensemble’s international reputation with that one seminal work. In it, he celebrates contemporary dance in its many forms and varieties, an achievement that makes ‘Psalmensymphonie’ an evergreen number in modern ballet, propped by Igor Stravinsky’s similarly timeless melodies. Thus wraps Forsythe | van Manen | Kylián, an ode to dance at the Wiener Staatsoper.