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Les Ballets de Monte Carlo was founded in 1985 by princess Caroline of Monaco, who wanted to revive the legendary Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo (1932-1940). Ever since former NDT dancer Jean-Yves Esquerre became the artistic director of the company in 1987, there has been a close connection between the ensemble and Jiří Kylián. A connection that became even stronger under Jean-Christophe Maillot — artistic director since 1993. The company triumphed with a comprehensive Kylián programme on the occasion of its 30 year anniversary. This programme was comprised of Bella Figura, Gods and Dogs and Chapeau and can now be seen in Celebrating Kylián!
Bella Figura, created in 1995 for Nederlands Dans Theatre I, is considered to be an artistic milestone in the oeuvre of Jiří Kylián. ‘Bella Figura’ in Italian not only means ‘beautiful body’ but also stands for ‘keeping up appearances’ — something that dancers constantly have to do. This inspired Kylián to dive into the ‘twilight zone’: the area between ‘performing’ and being yourself, art and artificiality, dreams and reality. Kylián set his choreography to a collage of renaissance and baroque music which combines remarkably well with his own contemporary dance idiom which is always rich in details and small, isolated movements. The result is intangible, mysterious — a ballet that sweeps over you like a mesmerizing dream.
The second choreography, Gods and Dogs (NDT2, 2008) was one of the last pieces that Kylián created as house choreographer of ‘his’ Nederlands Dans Theater. It was awarded the Swan for the Most Impressive Dance production. In this piece, Kylián looks at the underlying motives that make us dress and behave the way we do. Our entire lives we wear clothes as a mask that is continuously adjusted to fit the situation and the opinion of others. What lurks in the crevices of our brain is what really determines how we act. This is what he seems to ask himself. The result is a dark, intense piece in which he lets four couples shine to the music of Beethoven and Dirk Haubrich. His characteristic quick movement idiom, full of sudden lunges and accents, is now less polished and, raw but inimitably inventive as always.
Last but not least, Chapeau, a vibrant and festive piece d’occasion set to music of Prince, among others, made for Queen Beatrix’s 25th Jubilee in 2005. With this ballet, Kylián tips his hat to everything that the former queen has come to mean for the Netherlands and Dutch dance in general. He allowed himself to be inspired by her extensive hat collection — the choreography features twenty exact replicas. Chapeau is funny, and exuberant and with its focus on even the most minute detail, it is an enormous challenge for even the finest dancers to perform.
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.