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Jiří Kylián: The Choreographer

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Jiří Kylián: The Choreographer


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The acclaimed Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián had worked with the Nederlands Dans Theater as artistic director and house choreographer continuously since 1975.

From “a bunch of rebels, afraid of drowning in a lake of swans”, the company and Kylián have gained an international reputation which places them in the heart of the established art world.

This intimate portrait follows Kylián as he travels to Prague for the first time since the change of government and to rehearsals in Stuttgart, where he began his career as a dancer with John Cranko and choreographed his first ballet. There is also film of the Nederlands Dans Theater performing at a Gala Evening in Paris in the presence of Queen Beatrix and François Mitterrand, and an official visit to the company by former Czech premier, Václav Havel.

Many extracts from Kylián’s ballets are included, illustrating the breadth and diversity of his work to date as well as fascinating archive film and interviews with colleagues.

The world-renowned choreographer Jiří Kylián (Czechoslovakia, 1947) has been artistic director of Nederlands Dans Theater for nearly a quarter century. After having created three ballets for NDT
(Viewers, Stoolgame and La Cathédrale Engloutie), Kylián became the company’s artistic director in 1975 together with Hans Knill. In 1978 he and Carel Birnie founded NDT 2, meant to offer young dancers the opportunity to develop their skills and talents and focus on maturing their artistic personalities. In 1991 he initiated NDT 3; a company that created opportunities for older dancers. NDT stood out as the first company worldwide that showed the three dimensions of a dancer´s life. After an extraordinary record of service Kylián handed over the artistic leadership in 1999, but remained the company’s house choreographer until 2009.

Since his last piece Mémoires d’Oubliettes for NDT in 2009, Kylián’s creative focus has shifted to more small scale projects and films. Kylián’s entire body of work counts 100 creations to date, of which 77 performed by NDT and no less than 75 were especially created for the company. Furthermore, he made pieces for companies worldwide such as the Stuttgart Ballet, the Opéra de Paris, the Munich Bayerisches Staatsballett, and the Tokyo Ballet.

Kylián received many prestigious, international awards and honours, such as Officer of the Royal Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau, Honorary Medal of Order for Arts and Science of the House of Orange given to him by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix, honorary doctorate of the Juilliard School in New York and the Honorary Medal from the President of the Czech Republic. To this day, Kylián’s masterpieces are frequently performed by numerous dance companies and schools around the world.

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