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Of the many thriving periods in Jiří Kylián’s long career, his ‘black and white period’ is an absolute peak. In this period he refined his earlier romantic whirling baroque style to understated poetry of dance. This resulted in a series of small-scale, abstract and beautiful dance pieces darkly set in which he ingeniously manipulates the space and implements a much more sober dance idiom that focuses all our attention on human expression and the interaction with music.
Although the choreographies are very divergent in feel and dynamic, a common theme can be discerned. The ballets raise questions like — can there be light without darkness, life without death, can we be awake without sleep, and is there such a thing as health without illness?
With a little imagination, we can perhaps picture ourselves up there on stage: our fragile lives, where an unexpected incident might turn life upside down, and where we push aside our darkest thoughts because we are supposed to stand up for our ideals and simply just carry on. Fundamental themes that the master choreographer touches on with the lightest touch and yet immense depth, because with him seriousness and humour are never far apart — a humour that is both as white as it is black.
During Celebrating Kylián! The Norwegian National Ballet will perform the six prominent works from Kylián’s black and white period in a single programme: No More Play, Sechs Tänze, Sarabande, Falling Angels, Sweet Dreams and Petite Mort. A unique combination of choreographies that to this date have never been performed by any other company than Nederlands Dans Theater.
The Norwegian National Ballet has never been seen before in the Netherlands. The company was founded in 1958 and ever since Kylián rehearsed Symphony in D there in the eighties a close bond has been formed with the company that is today headed by former ballerina Ingrid Lorentzen. She danced in many Kylián’s choreographies and is highly honoured that the master himself chose her company to perform the black and white ballets. “Through the years we have built an intense collaboration in which our company was constantly challenged by him and has evolved gradually, in line with his body of work, and has become more refined and rich. The wealth and diversity of this oeuvre leaves an indelible imprint on every dancer that was ever given the chance to study his dance material and express it.”
On 21 March 2017 master choreographer and native son of The Hague Jiří Kylián turned 70. The Holland Dance Festival, Kylián Productions and Foundation, the Zuiderstrandtheater, Korzo theater and Productions and Nederlands Dans Theater will celebrate his birthday in style with an eclectic festival: Celebrating Kylián! Throughout the year various aspects of Kylián’s multifaceted artistry will be presented.