Dancers Tempe Ostergren and Logan Pachciarz. Photographer Steve Wilson.
Dancers Tempe Ostergren and Logan Pachciarz. Photographer Steve Wilson.

Choreography: Lynne Taylor-Corbett
Music: Franz Joseph Haydn

Mercury is an abstract ballet in five movements, created for New York City Ballet’s 1992 Diamond Project.  The music is drawn from five symphonies by Franz Joseph Haydn (No. 39 in g minor, No. 58 in F Major, No. 51 in B flat, and No. 38 in C Major).  All written during the period when Haydn was Kappelmeister for the Esterhazy family, these symphonies share qualities with the contemporaneous literary movement called “Sturm and Drang.”  Lynne’s selections illustrate Haydn’s mercurial musical temperament.  The first movement, with its abrupt silences and fiery outbursts, seems to portray a passionate soul in turmoil, searching for something.  The slow movement (here, as tradition decrees, a pas de deux) exhibits a tender lyricism made more intimate by the use of muted violins.  The other three sections exemplify those characteristics for which Haydn was famous: a pulsating verve, quirky rhythms, and witty and surprising turns of phrase.

Of this, her most classical piece to date, Taylor-Corbett comments: “Mercury is a fascinating word: not only the name of a planet, but also the name of a mythological god as well as a metallic element.  The work is more than a formal essay.  It was inspired, in part, by the death of a friend.  Just as Haydn’s music has a bright side as well as a dark, contemplative one, the choreography represents a kaleidoscope of human experience.

World Premiere: May 27, 1992, The Diamond Project, New York State Theater

Kansas City Ballet Premiere: October 12, 2012, Muriel Kauffman Theater, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

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