Bridges of Time, Ballet by Jiří Kylián
With the mesmerising choreography of the Czech master Jiří Kylián, dance becomes something more than human bodies in motion. It is a celebration, a prayer, a wake, a cure, or a metaphysical argument. Four of his inspired opuses form the ballet spectacle Bridges of Time that will delight and touch audiences in Prague.
On top of genre-transcending choreography, Bridges of Time relies on the music of many notable composers, spanning several centuries and musical periods. ‘Symphony of Psalms’ is set entirely to music by Russian revolutionary composer Igor Stravinsky. Any ballet performance featuring his bold rhythms is bound to impress, but when Kylián’s dance vision comes into the mix, the result is all but stupefying.
Next comes ‘Bella Figura’ and, as the title suggests, it combines gentle choreographies with the music of 18th-century Italian composers such as Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Giuseppe Torelli, Alessandro Marcello, and Antonio Vivaldi, though 20th-century German-American wunderkind Lukas Foss’s is also featured here. If you are unfamiliar with his work, suffice it to say Leonard Bernstein was his classmate, close friend and lifelong fan.
The last two opuses – ‘Petite Mort’ and ‘Sechs Tänze (Six Dances)’ – are set to the immortal compositions of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, rounding off an evening of exquisite musical and choreographic delights, curated and presented by one of the Czech Republic’s greatest names in contemporary dance. Set against the Austrian genius’s piano concertos and other instrumental works, the sequences celebrate his life and bring out new aspects of his musical style, underscored by motion and physical expression.
To appreciate the magic of Bridges of Time, the uninitiated spectator needs a little context. The four dance sequences offer a kind of retrospective of Jiří Kylián’s lifework. He created each opus at a distinct moment in his career and in a special location, be it Stuttgart, Amsterdam, or Salzburg. The eclectic musical and topical origins of each act are held together by Kylián’s characteristic and expressive style.
Bridges of Time is not only a celebration of a talented choreographer’s legacy. It also honours the birth of the nation of Czechoslovakia, going all the way back to 1918. Among the many musical stylings and distinct choreography stylings, a uniting sense of national pride runs through the ballet performance, which makes it feel even more at home in Golden Prague.