Symphony of Psalms

“Symphony of Psalms” was created in the fall of 1978 - shortly 
after I became Artistic director of NDT. Soon after its creation, 
the influence of this work became apparent. It became a 
“corner stone” of the company’s repertoire, pointing towards 
the new adventure, this company was about to embark on. 
Maybe that one of the more interesting aspects of “Symphony 
of Psalms”, is its unifying effect it had on the company. At that 
time, I found it necessary to use a large group of dancers for 
this choreography (16 in total, out of a company of 24). 
Somehow, in this work we were able to create a certain kind 
of “spiritual architecture”.

In a strange way, it was the structure of this piece which had 
a decisive influence on the company. The simple fact, that the 
dancers had to share the same space throughout the duration of 
the piece, created some sense of belonging and togetherness.
In some way, this work addresses our understanding, and our 
doubts and feelings, concerning our "raison d’être” and its 
values. The music of Igor Stravinsky, written in 1930, is based 
on biblical texts: In these Psalms, there are four major themes: 

 I)A prayer, we offer to “Our Lord’, and the acceptance of our
inferiority towards him….

 II)The assurance of gratitude, we owe to “Our Lord” for taking
us out of misery, and for teaching us “how to pray to him”…

 III) The praise of all the virtues of “Our Lord”….

When I read these texts , there are very many questions which enter my head.... Whenever I feel that I am confronted with any kind of “Ultimate authority” or with a situation which demands submission of any kind, I feel desperately uncomfortable….  Furthermore I didn’t want to make a work concerning only the aspects of people who have decided to dedicate their lives to the world of “dance” - I wanted to speak to people, who wished to escape the monotony of their daily routine. The “backdrop”, which marks the upstage limitation of the stage, is made entirely  of oriental carpets. Many of these carpets were not made only for decorative purposes, but their religious or spiritual meaning was just as important. The patterns of the most perfect examples of oriental carpets reflect the pure beauty of numbers, considered by some religions to be of divine origin. Our “Symphony of Psalms” lives primarily of its strict structure inspired by the intricacy and the patterns of these mysterious objects. But yet, within this “rigid architecture”, outbursts of emotional and individual statements are given time and space. The choreography’s strict lines, curves and patterns occasionally break, in order to give the dancers the space for very individual, personal and emotional statements, which only they can produce. These statements are produced by their integrity and their uniqueness… In this work the dancers “live and dance” on the stage from the beginning until the end. And as they bring their "dance and life" on the stage to its conclusion, what they leave behind are traces of energy, emotionality, frustrations and some kind of spirituality. In any case, they leave behind an individual imprint, a quality, and a scent, which might not necessarily carry the hallmark of “perfection”, but surely it is unique, honest and personal. It cannot be substituted or confused with anything else - it is a footprint of an “original”. When creating this work, I wanted to say: “I need you all. I need your discipline, your dedication to your professionalism, and your feeling of belonging to the others. But I equally need your individual quality and your ever so complex emotional world. I want you to know that I understand your unique talents, desires and confusions. But I will also expect you to give your talents as a gift to the company’s future. We should give everything to build together a homogenous group, whose personalities are able to express their uniqueness and who will find the trust in each other in any possible or impossible situation….” Often I have compared our Company to a garden, which, although small, can reach limitless heights, stretching towards the brightest light, or lead us down to unimaginable depth and darkness…. It is all about the “freedom” within the parameters of our “restrictions”, giving us all the  possibilities of deeply personal statements. A sense of belonging to something we believe in, the endless world of inspiration and fantasy….This in my eyes was a pretty healthy way on which I thought our company’s future could be based - a simple structure with a good potential of standing ”in balance” for some time to come….

Liturgical text used by Stravinsky:

Text I (Psalm 39, verses 13 and 14)

Exaudi orationem meam, Domine, et deprecationem meam.
Auribus percipe lacrimas meas. Ne sileas.
Quoniam advena ego sum apud te et peregrinus, sicut omnes 
patres mei.
Remitte mihi, ut refrigerer prius quam abeam et amplius non ero.

(English Translation)
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and with Thine ears consider my calling:
hold not Thy peace at my tears.
For I am a stranger with Thee: and a sojourner, as all my fathers 
O spare me a little

Text II (Psalm 40, verses 2, 3 and 4)

Expectans expectavi Dominum, et intendit mihi.
Et exaudivit preces meas; et eduxit me de lacu miseriae, et de 
luto fæcis.
Et statuit super petram pedes meos: et direxit gressus meos.
Et immisit in os meum canticum novum, carmen Deo nostro.
Videbunt multi, videbunt et timebunt: et sperabunt in Domino.

(English Translation)
I waited patiently for the Lord: and He inclined unto me, and 
heard my calling.
He brought me also out of the horrible pit, out of the mire and 
and set my feet upon the rock, and ordered my goings.
And He hath put a new song in my mouth: even a thanksgiving 
unto our God.
Many shall see it and fear: and shall put their trust in the Lord.

Text III (Psalm 150)

Laudate Dominum in sanctis Ejus.
Laudate Eum in firmamento virtutis Ejus. Laudate Dominum.
Laudate Eum in virtutibus Ejus. Laudate Dominum in virtutibus 
Laudate Eum secundum multitudinem magnitudinis Ejus. 
Laudate Dominum in sanctis  Ejus..
Laudate Eum in sono tubae.
Laudate Eum. Alleluia. Laudate Dominum. Laudate Eum.
Laudate Eum in timpano et choro,
Laudate Eum in cordis et organo; Laudate Dominum.
Laudate Eum in cymbalis benesonantibus,
Laudate Eum in cymbalis jubilationibus. Laudate Dominum.
Laudate Eum, omnis spiritus laudet Dominum, omnis spiritus 
laudet Eum.
Alleluia. Laudate, laudate, laudate Dominum.

(English Translation)
O praise God in His holiness:
Praise Him in the firmament of His power.
Praise Him in His noble acts:
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him in the sound of the trumpet:
Praise Him upon the strings and pipe.
Praise Him upon the well-tuned cymbals,
Praise Him upon the loud cymbals.
Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord.