A Small Retrospective Exhibit of Jiří Kylián’s Work

“Celebrating Kylián!
Nederlands Dans Theater
The Hague, The Netherlands
September 22, 2017

by Ilona Landgraf
Copyright © 2017 by Ilona Landgraf

1. “Celebrating Kylián!” © A.CorbijnJiří Kylian turned 70 years this March. “Celebrating
Kylián!”, a festival initiated by Kylián Productions, Holland Dance, Nederlands Dans Theater, Zuiderstrandtheater and Korzo Theater has been honoring him throughout the year. Part of the events and programs is a multimedia exhibition at the Zuiderstrandtheater, the home of Nederlands Dans Theater, the company considerably shaped by Kylián. The exhibition opened on September 22nd.

For twenty-four years, beginning in 1975, Kylián headed NDT as artistic director and, after handing the reins over to Marian Sarstädt in 1999, remained the company’s house choreographer for an additional decade. Of the two affiliated troupes he founded – NDT 2, the junior company in 1978 and, for older dancers, NDT 3 in 1991 – the latter was dissolved in 2006 due to financial reasons.

Kylián is best known as choreographer, but has also photographed and made films such as “Zugvögel” and “Car-Men.” The list of choreographies on his website ends with the number 99. The main part, 75 ballets to be exact, were created for NDT. Video excerpts of some of those works – both performances and rehearsals – are now shown on several screens in the foyer and on the first floor. The large video hologram of “Gods and Dogs” attracted the most spectators. Diagonally opposite a black and white picture wall with various portraits of Kylián hangs next to the bar. A few costumes, among them the well known red skirts from “Bella Figura,” greet the visitors opposite the cloakroom.
The exhibition is only open when performances take place. To watch the four documentaries shown in a side room one should arrive early. “The Road to Stamping Ground,” for example, which traces the creation of “Stamping Ground,” a 1983 piece that was inspired by Aboriginal culture and dance, lasts for almost one hour. But it is also on YouTube.

In 2014 Kylián withdrew his pieces from NDT’s repertoire for a three-year period to allow Paul Lightfoot, artistic director since 2012, creative latitude. Actually, the three years are over now, but, as Carmen Thomas, the director of Kylián Productions, explained in an email, “there was a bit of criticism towards NDT when this celebrative year came about” and although having regained performance rights, NDT decided to make no use of them. Instead, two guest companies will bring Kylian’s ballets back home. On October 12th and 13th, Les Ballets de Monte Carlo will perform “Bella Figura”, “Gods and Dogs”, and “Chapeau” at the Zuiderstrandtheater. The Norwegian National Ballet will dance a mixed bill of six pieces on November 25th and 26th.

The exhibition will be shown until November 26th, 2017. The entrance is free.
2. Zuiderstrandtheater © M.Haak

Links: Website of Nederlands Dans Theater
Website of Jiří Kylián
Website of the Zuiderstrandtheater
Photos:  1. Celebrating Kylián!© Anton Corbijn
 2. Zuiderstrandtheater © Maurice Haak
 Editing: Laurence Smelser