Classical Symphony

Dancers Brian Staihr and Louise Nadeau in Classical Symphony in winter 1987.
Dancers Brian Staihr and Louise Nadeau in Classical Symphony in winter 1987.

Choreography: Todd Bolender
Music: Serge Prokofiev
Costume Design: Russ Vogler

Classical Symphony, a compleat and dynamic ballet designed like the music as witty evocation of 18th century formality, introduces the evening and the Company. Todd Bolender, choreographed the piece in 1981 as the Company’s opening statement and chose Prokofiev’s symphony written in 1917 when Prokofiev was 26. The structure is classical, the melodic line graceful, the rhythms spirited and bold, but throughout the work there are surprising and subtle shifts to the asymmetrical, intimations of the twentieth century. Seven couples move with brash exuberance from the bright, balanced opening, Allegro, to the flowing expressive Larghetto- the pas de deux. Next comes the Gavotte, with well-tempered allusions to the courtly form, and finally, the Finale, molto vivace, a joyful gathering of the ensemble. In the Allegro, the patterning reflects the asymmetry of the music. The pas de deux presents one couple and twelve dancers in an extraordinary dance-counterpoint. Across the back of the stage, the twelve move in a chain-like horizontal while at the fore, the couple scribes tight arts from a fixed point. Their movement is concentrated, vertical. A musical recapitulation releases the couple and, alone on the stage, they consume the space with expanding circles and soaring arcs. The Molto Vivace brings girls and boys en groupe to stylized mimicry until they are finally paired once more in an animated celebration of symmetry restored.

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