Our Thoughts on Promethean Fire

Post by Rebecca King, Corps de Ballet

In Program III, Miami City Ballet brings you the third of four company premieres, Paul Taylor’s Promethean Fire. I sat down with a few dancers to talk to them about dancing this piece for the first time.

The last Paul Taylor work that MCB performed was Company B last season. For those of you who have seen this spectacular work, you may agree with Jennifer Lauren when she describes it as “playful and lighthearted.” But she mentions that this work is much different than Promethean Fire, not only in energy, but also in style. “Promethean Fire is much more controlled with a specific technique.” This piece is rumored to be Taylor’s choreographic reaction to the tragedy of 9/11. Leigh Esty observed that this piece reflects the sediments of that day, calling it “emotional, almost even dark.”

With a different Taylor style to conquer, Ms. Lauren said, “the steps began to feel good once I became more comfortable and more familiar with the ballet. Until then, it all felt very foreign to me.” Ms. Esty added that this piece is much more “modern” than any Taylor work the company has done in recent history.

“The first movement of Promethean Fire never stops. Getting through until the end was a challenge for me at first,” says Ms. Lauren. Ms. Esty adds that she found herself having difficulties with the steps where she had to gracefully get from a standing position to the floor. “I have never had to do so much crawling around on the floor in my life!” she muses.

The dancers’ favorite moment in this work was unanimous. “The first movement is fast and chaotic,” Ms. Lauren describes, “then all of a sudden everyone slows down moving in unison.” This section is called the “back exercise” as it is similar to an exercise you work on in a modern class. Ms. Esty agrees that she likes this moment adding, “the human pile we create at the end is also a highlight for me. It is a really powerful moment.”

There is always an element that the dancers look forward to most when it comes to dancing Taylor pieces: working with Patrick Corbin. Mr. Corbin danced for Paul Taylor, now has his own company CorbinDances, and comes to Miami to set Taylor pieces on MCB.

When I asked the dancers about Patrick, everyone began to gush. “I love Patrick. I think he has a really amazing way of seeing a dancer for who they are and working with them to develop into better dancers. He just helps you love yourself as a dancer,” says Stephen Satterfield. Ms. Lauren points out his positive and calming energy. Ashely Knox agrees, saying, “He knows that this style of dance is foreign to us and does everything he can to encourage us.” Ms. Esty chimes in saying, “He is just inspiring because you can tell he loves what he does and it makes you want to love what you do.”

Patrick Corbin working with MCB.