The name of Jiří Kylián (Prague, 1947) is inseparably linked to the Nederlands Dans Theater, where he held the post of artistic director for almost 25 years and took the company to major international success. It was in 1973, as a guest choreographer, that he made his first creation for the group in The Hague: Viewers. By now he has notched up 75 choreographies for the Nederlands Dans Theater, as well as some twenty works for other companies.
Kylián’s oeuvre can be divided into various periods of style. He became world famous in the 1970s and 1980s with his neoclassical choreographies with folkloric motifs, strongly emotional atmospheres and plenty of virtuoso and supple partner work. In the 1990s his vocabulary became more unpredictable and even capricious, often featuring dark emotions and a sense of unease. Gradually his dance idiom became more sober – with influences of Japanese and minimalistic aesthetics – but no less complex. In Kylián’s work, each movement seems to arise from an inner emotion, and each detail, no matter how lightning-fast and transient, bears witness to a restrained tension and complete control.
Kylián received his dance education at the school of the National Ballet and the conservatory in Prague, his place of birth, and in 1967 he was awarded a scholarship for the Royal Ballet School in London. After completing his training he danced at the Stuttgarter Ballett, where he also created his first ballets. In 1975, after having made three guest choreographies in The Hague, he was appointed artistic director of the Nederlands Dans Theater, initially together with Hans Knill.
The overwhelming success of Kylián’s work Sinfonietta (1978) put the company on the map internationally. Kylián was also responsible for founding the junior company NDT2 as well as NDT3, a company with unique status in the world but now discontinued and which presented the specific qualities of ‘older’ dancers. In 1999 Kylián transferred the artistic direction of the Nederlands Dans Theater but remained linked to the company as the house choreographer until 2009. He currently focuses his attention more on small-scale projects.
Works by Kylián have been performed by prestigious companies all over the world, including the Stuttgarter Ballett, Ballet National de l’Opéra de Paris, the Bayerisches Staatsballett in Munich and the Tokyo Ballet. To date, Introdans has fourteen works by the master choreographer in its repertoire. In the 2006/07 and 2010/2011 seasons the ensemble danced two complete Kylián programmes under the title KYLIÁN4KIDS, the first of which won the Zilveren Krekel (Silver Cricket) in the category ‘Most Impressive Production’. The jubilee programme entitled JARIG, in late 2014, was also a complete Kylián programme entitled JARIG, featuring the Introdans premiere of Trompe l’Oeil and the complete version of Children’s Games.
In 2017 Introdans added the wonderful ballet Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen to its repertoire and devoted the END OF SEASON show entirely to the master choreographer. This was followed by the choreography Dream Time in 2018. Moreover, in early 2018 the company danced a complete Kylián programme entitled KYLIÁN4ALL, and on this occasion also included Chapeau in the repertoire.
Kylián has received countless awards for his major services to dance, including a Sir Laurence Olivier Award, a Medal of Honour from the President of the Czech Republic, the appointment as Chevalier du Legion d’Honneur from the French state, a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement from the Biennale in Venice, a Royal Medal of Honour for Art and Science and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Czech Ministry of Culture. In 1995 he received a knighthood in the Order of Officers of Orange Nassau.