I saw most of it, and it was a real guessing game for my husband and me to figure out what it was. For anyone who also listens to Karl Haas' "Adventures in Good Listening" on classical music stations, you can appreciate the game of "Name That Company" that we played that night.
We tuned in probably half-way through "Black Tuesday" and the TV guide listings in our local paper were of no help. We first debated whether if it was a Broadway production because the staging was more commercial than your average ballet production.
Then we were thrown by the technical excellence of the dancers -- too strong for Broadway-style hoofers. So was it a classical company? (we live in the middle of the country, so we can't identify companies by their faces -- "oh yes, darling, of course that's Maria K, remember we saw her at Mimsy's cocktail party last weekend?").
So then we decided the dancers' builds and technique were simply too muscular for classical. So it had to be a top-notch contemporary company, and it had to be American, given the subject matter of the piece they were dancing (clearly something about life during the Great Depression).
Now we have seen Mark Morris enough times to know it wasn't his group (not enough rough edges to the choreography
). So I tossed out the only name I could think of and that was Paul Taylor. Ding, ding, it was a winner!
Aside from our pathetic Midwestern attempt there at cultural relevancy, we enjoyed the telecast greatly. And I liked Promethean Fire the best. The thing that can appeal to me most about modern are the interesting permutations of geometry you get with truly gifted choreographers. If classical tends most toward simple shapes and lines, then good modern (and in this respect I would include Balanchine) takes those shapes and sinuously explores all their possible arrangements -- but without losing sight of the human element underlying the geometry. Promethean Fire definitely did that. And the dancers' personal excellence only enhanced that. I'm often left wondering, after a lot of modern performances, if it wouldn't have been easier to understand what the choreographer was striving for, if the dancers had been better (harken over to my reaction to the Baryshnikov solo tour). Such a challenge for most modern companies!