It really isn’t easy to be a master of your craft – to hone every movement, to follow every idea to its logical end, to serve as a benchmark of excellence. But it’s even harder to be an innovator — to master everything that has come before you and then, looking intently into the future, take a step along an absolutely new path. In their day, each of these choreographers took the decision to push off from the shore and set out on their own personal artistic voyage. And each of them has already become an acclaimed classic. Balanchine, Van Manen, and Forsythe — Modern Masters who have enriched the world with Contemporary Masterpieces.
Exactly a century separates us from the Roaring Twenties. The glowing Western world, awaking from the horrors of the First World War, dashed headlong into all the pleasures that life could offer. It was just a moment in the chronicles of mankind, where everyone yearned — and managed — to live brightly, deliciously, amazingly. And (the main point) buoyantly. Who cares, that this unabashed trust in “everything’s possible” lasted just a few years — those years bestowed the world with incomparable treasures. Art Deco charmed, jazz overwhelmed, the Hollywood divas reigned, the Broadway stars conquered hearts en masse…
Balanchine’s late chef d'oeuvre used to be called a hymn to the romance of the Great City. To its lights and hopes, its laughter and dreams. Gershwin and Balanchine — a son of Russian emigres and a Russian emigre, each having already conquered America independently — met in 1937, when George the composer invited George the choreographer to produce a work together. But all of a sudden Gershwin died, and it took 33 years for Balanchine to approach his music again. These 16 carefully picked songs, created between 1924 and 1931, are permeated and penetrated by the inimitable spirit of New York, marked with its legendary springy rhythms, and compiled to produce 40 minutes of absolute musical and choreographical happiness, free from any sorrow and total devoted to the splendor of Lady Life.
World premiere: February 7th 1970, Lincoln Center, New York State Theater, New York.
Hans van Manen is a master of the non-verbal communications,
and in Kleines Requiem each gesture adds another word to the dialogue.
At its world première in 1996, Kleines Requiem was acclaimed as the pinnacle of Van Manen's oeuvre. His personal style is always recognizable. The clarity of line and simplicity of composition typical of his work are engendered by the chosen musical material, but the choice itself is, as a rule, rather eclectic. Despite all the emotional richness, the characters of his ballets are never sentimental. The main thing is that he spellbinds the audience with an exceptional, utterly polished beauty of movement.
The work takes its cues from Henryk Górecki’s music. The beginning and close are somber, with the middle movement, a frenzied polka, introducing comic and jazzy overtones and shifting the twosomes briefly into a homogenous ensemble. But it is the relationships within the group of seven that form the nucleus of the piece.
World premiere: November 14th 1996, Nederlands Dans Theater, The Hague.
‘Principally it is about dancers dancing’, William Forsythe says of Pas/Parts 2018. The acclaimed American innovator of classical ballet created Pas/Parts in 1999 and has reworked it several times, most recently for the Boston Ballet in 2018. The 20-part work for large ensemble features abrupt transitions in lighting, music, tempo, rhythm, energy and formations. Pas/Parts, which literally means “steps” and “parts”, progresses through an unpredictable succession of solos, duets, trios and larger formations, each action and reaction giving rise to new forms and configurations.
World premiere Pas/Parts: March 31st 1999, Ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris, Palais Garnier, Paris.