Jiri Kylián on All Ages Dance

Yes, we are able to dance “From the womb to the tomb”....!

There are many things you can learn in your life, but you cannot learn experience. You have to live it, you have to live through it. And you should live as intensely as possible to have something to remember and to share when you grow old.
Whenever we mention the art of dance, most of us imagine a young, graceful and dynamic person moving vigorously to the sound of music.... But dance and older people? How should that work?

Dance and age doesn’t seem like a marriage made in heaven, but in my understanding it should not be viewed with scepticism. Through my long-time experience as a dancer, choreographer and artistic director, and through my encounters with East Asian cultures and the Australian aboriginal people, I have learned that we possess the ability to dance throughout our entire life and that it should be treasured and respected - Yes, we are able to dance “From the womb to the tomb”....!

As artistic director of the Nederlands Dans Theater for 24 years, I was confronted with two major problems:
1) I realized that the existing dance and ballet schools (good or bad), can never produce dancers, who would be immediately ready to take major responsibilities within a complex contemporary repertoire, such as the repertoire of NDT.
This realization led me to the decision to create a company for very young dancers - NDT II –which would function as a bridge between the existing school systems and a fully fledged professional company. This young company, should not only become the major provider of young talent for the main company - NDT I - but it should also serve as a testing ground for young choreographic talent.

2) The second and by far more difficult challenge was the fact that I was often confronted with the unpleasant task of saying good-bye to many wonderful “older” dancers. Some of them I worked with for many years, during which they became truly great artists. I had to ask them to leave, because they simply no longer fulfilled the physical demands required by the repertoire of the company....
This became totally unacceptable to me, as I have realized that the departure of these very experienced dance-actors was a terrible waste! It felt only natural to create a new company for them. NDT III, as I called it, was established in order to use the wealth of their charisma, experience and wisdom, and create new and specific repertoire for them, using all their accumulated qualities.

When you work with younger dancers, you feel more as a teacher. Working with older dancers, you are more like a colleague who respects their specific talents and their uniqueness. Your task is to give them the opportunity to create a repertoire, allowing them to stand on the stage with dignity fitting with their age....!

This simple fact was immediately understood by many of my colleagues. Consequently many choreographers of international stature have supported this idea and contributed to the unique repertoire of this tiny company (Hans van Manen, Mats Ek, William Forsythe, Maurice Béjart, Robert Wilson, Michael Schumacher, Martha Clarke, Christopher Bruce and many other choreographers). This company consisted of only four people....! But their spirit took them to all continents of our planet.

The creation of this company was inspired by a very simple, but very significant idea:  “It takes a very long time to become young."

Since many years I have promoted the idea that "all ages dance" and I am more than happy that this small festival is dedicated to it. This festival was primarily made possible through the joined forces of the Korzo theatre and Kylián Productions BV, and I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to everyone who contributed to its realization.

Jiří Kylián
April 2014

Click here for program & tickets of the Kylián Festival

Posted on 16 May 2014 | 0 reacties

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