Tänze Bilder Sinfonien

The Vienna State Opera welcomes an exciting triple bill of modern ballet gems to its storied stage. The dance spectacle Tänze Bilder Sinfonien combines the choreographic prowess of George Balanchine, Alexei Ratmansky and Martin Schläpfer with the expressive, memorable music of the Russian composers Igor Stravinsky, Modest Mussorgsky and Dmitri Shostakovich. Each of the three duos’ inspiration flows and gels in intriguing forms and fascinating combinations of music and sound, guaranteed to leave the audience in awe.

George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky’s creative partnership goes a long way, but the ‘Symphony in Three Movements’ represents a different kind of collaboration. Although it was written in the 1940s and the two played with the idea of turning it into a ballet, Balanchine only realised the project in 1972, after the composer’s death. As a heartfelt tribute at the Stravinsky Festival, the performance was electrifying. Stravinsky’s bold and fantastical soundscapes found perfect pairing with Balanchine’s elegant yet physically demanding and complex choreography. The two artists’ final collaboration was among their finest.

A prominent dancer and choreographer in his native Russia, Alexei Ratmansky first put on his ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ in 2014 in New York City. Based on the fascinating, narrative score of the same name by Modest Mussorgsky, the dance performance takes its design cue from the geometric art of Wassily Kandinsky. Ratmansky’s choreography toes the line between classical ballet and free movement. Ten dancers take on the colours and the shapes of early abstractionism and explore the boundaries of space and the rigidity of norms, guided by Mussorgsky’s famous melodies.

‘Symphony No. 15’ by Dmitri Shostakovich, with the choreography of Martin Schläpfer, closes the programme on an epic note. The symphony was the Soviet composer’s last major orchestral work. In four movements and with many self-referential musical quotations, Shostakovich tells a life story in symphonic form. From the child-like wonder and innocence through the struggles and corruption of adulthood all the way to old age, the music finds its perfect reflection in Schläpfer’s expressive and visually impressive dance sequences. The multitude of human emotions find intimate musical and physical expression, rounding off the special modern ballet performance Tänze Bilder Sinfonien at Wiener Staatsoper.

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