Expansive in scope and streamlined in style, Glass Pieces captures the pulsating heartbeat of metropolitan life with its charged, urban choreography, concluding in a finale that propels the corps de ballet across the stage at an electrifying pace.
Although Philip Glass's work is often labeled as minimalist, he prefers to call it “music with repetitive structures.” His early compositions were greatly influenced by Ravi Shankar and the hypnotic rhythms of Indian music. Some of his most notable work for theater includes the trilogy of operas comprising Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, and Akhnaten.
Jerome Robbins, originally in line to direct Akhnaten, instead choreographed a ballet using music from the opera along with Rubric and Facades, both from Glassworks. In Glass Pieces, Robbins incorporated concepts from postmodern dance into the traditional ballet vocabulary, and he infused the work with a distinctly urban energy. The recurrent rhythms, driving momentum, and labyrinth of shifting patterns of the ensemble combine to create a physical architecture for Glass's music.
It premiered in 1983 with New York City Ballet.