Skip to content

Everyone is celebrating Jiri Kylian's 70th birthday in full. Except NDT.

Even abroad, it is noticeable that Jiří Kylián's work is not showing at NDT. Even though the so-called embargo is expiring and this is his anniversary year.

No Kylián past three years

The Financial Times talked about. Laura Cappelle describes a fine performance by Nederlands Dans Theater in Paris and concludes that Kylián's work does not belong among mothballs. She refers to the period when Jiří decided it was better for NDT to stand on its own two feet. Without his work.

That period was supposed to last three years and now ends in July. However, there have been no moves to put Kylián back on the repertoire. And in the meantime, NDT has come a long way on its own anyway. With face-lifting work by Lightfoot & Léon, Crystal Pite, Marco Goecke and Franck Chartier, among others.

Time to revisit the plans you would think. Especially this year.

Jiří is 70

Because 2017, the year the embargo expires, is an anniversary year for Jiří. The master is 70, which is why the programme Celebrating Kylián designed. Including full-length Kylián performances at Korzo and Introdans and abroad, Ballet de l'Opéra de Lyon and the Royal Danish Ballet are celebrating his birthday. To top it all off, two top companies are coming to the Netherlands in the autumn to dance full-length Kylián evenings at Zuiderstrandtheater in The Hague. These are Les Ballets de Monte Carlo and the Norwegian National Ballet.

But nothing at NDT.

Although, 'nothing'. In September, the new programme Side A: Split into One of NDT 1 out at the Zuiderstrandtheater. NDT curates a photo exhibition on Jiří's work. With costumes and a surprise. The company is thus filling in the long-standing plans for the anniversary with archive photos.

Sans rancune

Fortunately, there is no negativity between Jiří and NDT. Performing Kylián's work again after it has been off the repertoire for three years is just a big deal. And there is a new generation of dancers. A practical choice, then.

Hold on.

The best dancers in the world vying for a coveted spot with one of the most admired companies cannot dance a work by Kylián? Not even when work by Lightfoot & Léon, which they do dance, is so heavily influenced by him?

Kylián's future at NDT

There is no intention to bring work back into the repertoire in the future. Even the arrival of the giant new Education and Culture Centre (construction has finally started recently) has no bearing on that. Indeed, it's just going to happen that big foreign companies will come and perform there with a full-length Kylián programme. In the house of NDT.

If you draw the line dramatically that not performing Kylián's ballets for a while leads to not being able to dance them, you will never see Kylián's work at NDT again. If even an anniversary year doesn't change this, it will be waiting for an important person at NDT to find Kylián's work a must again.

Kylián elsewhere in the Netherlands

Fortunately, Introdans continues to see the value of Jiří Kylián's work. Last week, the full-length performance Celebrating Kylián er premiere. Accompanied by the special photographic exhibition Free Fall By Jiří himself (read a interview with Jiří about the exhibition here).

Under the spell of Kylián

Jiří Kylián's influence in the Dutch dance landscape also continues in other ways. For example, the Kylián Foundation makes two stipends available to Codarts dance school in Rotterdam and supports the programme Good Old Times, for older non-professional dancers. And there is the Kylián ring: an award for an inspiration and innovator within the dance world.

In place

For dance audiences in the Netherlands, however, it would be nice if Nederlands Dans Theater just stepped up a gear. That it bites a little harder at the Czech genius's stunning work and knows how to perform it like no other. A course of its own be granted to the phenomenal company, of course. An appreciation of its own crown jewels and their maker too.

Celebration year overview

March 2017 - Last Touch FirstBirth-Day and the world premiere of Kylián's new film Scalamare (in Korzo)
May 2017 - East Shadow and the photo exhibition Free Fall (in Korzo)
June 2017 - Royal Conservatoire and Codarts present a Kylián evening in Korzo and Introdans presents a Kylián evening and Free Fall 
September 2017 - NDT presents a photo exhibition around Kylián's work
October 2017 - Les Ballets de Monte Carlo presents Bella Figura, Gods and DogsChapeau
November 2017 - Norwegian National Ballet: Sweet Dreams, Petite Mort, Sarabande, Falling Angels, No More Play, Sechs Tänze (Black & White Program)

Update 28 June

Comment by Paul Lightfoot, NDT artistic director, on this article:

'Anything NDT might do with Jiří Kylián or with his existing work should do justice to what he has done and meant for the development of the company. Jiří is such an enormous part of the history and heritage of the company that what we do with him and/or his work in the future, should be a reflection of that.

It should also be something that strengthens the artistic course of NDT. Jiří himself has stated that he is proud of how the company has developed since his absence and of how it is doing presently continuing in its creativity.

To show our respect and appreciation for Jiří as an artist and as a former artistic director of NDT, especially one that played such an important role in the history of the company, NDT is indeed part of the Celebrating Kylián Festival in the Fall with an exhibition in the Zuiderstrandtheater.'

- Paul Lightfoot

Ruben Brugman

writing ex-dancerView Author posts

Private Membership (month)
5€ / Maand
For natural persons and self-employed persons.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Own mastodon account
Access to our archives
Small Membership (month)
18€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of less than €250,000 per year
No annoying banners
A premium newsletter
All our podcasts
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Posting press releases yourself
Extra attention in news coverage
Large Membership (month)
36€ / Maand
For cultural institutions with a turnover/subsidy of more than €250,000 per year.
No annoying banners
A special newsletter
Your own Mastodon account
Access to archives
Share press releases with our audience
Extra attention in news coverage
Premium Newsletter (substack)
5 trial subscriptions
All our podcasts

Payments are made via iDeal, Paypal, Credit Card, Bancontact or Direct Debit. If you prefer to pay manually, based on an invoice in advance, we charge a 10€ administration fee

*Only for annual membership or after 12 monthly payments

en_GBEnglish (UK)