Goldberg-Variations / Gods and Dogs

Goldberg-Variationen. Ensemble. ©Wilfried Hösl Goldberg-Variationen. Ensemble ©Wilfried Hösl Gods and Dogs. Ensemble. ©Wilfried Hösl
Jiří Kylián, Jerome Robbins

Music by Johann Sebastian Bach / Jiří Kylián (Concept) / Dirk Haubrich and Ludwig van Beethoven

In 2008 Jiří Kylián created this mysterious, almost mystical ballet for four couples for the NDT with almost the identical team of composers, stage designers and project designers who had realized his “Zugvögel” (“Migratory Birds”) in Munich. “Gods and Dogs”, a puzzling double figure that emerged from the realm of the pharaohs, is a further step into the current cosmos of the Czech choreographer, who says of himself: “I am interested in the borderlines between normality and madness, between health and illness, and the norms which define both. At any moment of his life, a person can be designated as being in the one or the other category. But the precise moment when he is ultimately pushed over the border into pathological madness is beyond his perception.”

The Goldberg-Variations have tempted the widest variety of choreographers to venture interpretations over the decades, and they in turn have discovered the widest variety of valid solutions. One indisputable fact however is that the crown belongs to Jerome Robbins’s 1971 creation. “A terpsichorean play of jubilation”, wrote Horst Koegler after the world première: “the choreography as a paraphrase of space and motion, playing around the music, competing with it… a demonstration of a dance philosophy obligated only to itself, instructions for learning how to watch dance.” Robbins’s unmistakable adoption and casual variation of the classic motion canon, his instinct for structure and his absorption into Bach’s musical cosmos – the physical perfection of ballet transcended into a metaphysical event.

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