SYMPHONY OF PSALMS. Jiří Kylián 1978
- Choreography: Jirí Kylián
- Music: Igor Stravinsky (Symphonie de Psaumes; Á la Gloire de Dieu)
- Sets: William Katz
- Costumes: Joop Stokvis
- Lighting re-design: Kees Tjebbes (Royal Swedish Ballet, Stockholm, 2004)
- Lighting Design: Joop Caboort;
- Staging: Patrick Delcroix
- Premièred by the Nederlands Dans Theater at Circustheater, Scheveningen, 24th November 1978
- Premièred by Compañía Nacional de Danza at Teatro Real, Madrid, 5th November 1999
- O praise God in His holiness
- Praise Him in the sound of the trumpet
- Praise Him upon the lute and harp
- Praise Him upon the well-tuned cymbals
- And the dance
- But, why?
Stravinsky’s work was never made to be danced. It is therefore a strong and important musical statement in which one of the main invocations, to give praise with dance, was not fulfilled. So, this choreography was made merely to complete the original concept of the text –to praise the Lord with dance. But what is it that must be praised with this physical prayer?. It is more a lament for an imperfect and disunited world in which the suffering and uncertainty of each individual meet in ironic dialogue with Stravinsky’s religious score.
The dance is structured as one constantly moving restless body. No dancer makes an entrance nor exits from the stage until the darkening end of their last slow parting. The dance pulls them often into the ground in sadness and failures. But they rise, and their lines re-group with geometric austerity. Yet, on this stage of life, there is tenderness and hope too. Rigid patterns are momentarily broken by individual loves and desires; all so humanly vulnerable and transient. It is to human value and caring that this dance gives praise.
Kylián has devised a choreography which totally respects the rectangular shape of conventional stages. It is his symbolic gesture, accepting the limitations which life too, imposes on us. But these borders do not necessarily represent a negative reality. They often stimulate our creativity to find freedom and fantasy within the space we were assigned to. This austere and angular concept of the choreography is echoed in the shapes and patterns of the hanging carpets which form the background of this labyrinthine world. These carpets found in the flea markets of Holland find renewed life as an essential part of a production which is, at heart, a celebration of the human survival spirit over worldly materialism.