One of Kylián's own favourites
Symphony of Psalms (1978) is a work for 16 dancers that, set to Igor Stravinsky’s choral symphony of the same name, “brings together dance and the divine.” Perpetually onstage and accompanied by a choir, the dancers surge and retreat, becoming one with the music. The work is a celebration of human spirituality, translated into fluid movement by Kylián, whose dancers express pain and suffering, but also hope and tenderness, in impassioned duets and ensembles. The choreographer’s geometric bias is accentuated by the vertical patchwork of Oriental carpets that form the backdrop. “My idea wasn’t religious, in the strict sense of the word, but rather my reading attempts to follow the musical structure, evocative of ritual, whose rhythms channel a flood of emotion and pathos,” Kylián says. Stravinsky’s powerful score, based on the Psalms of David, was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra to mark its 50th anniversary in 1930.