Happy Birthday, Jiri Kylián!

March 22, 2017

Dancers throughout Europe—and the U.S.—are celebrating Jiri Kylián‘s 70th birthday this year, with reprisals of his ballets, special photo exhibits and film screenings. Of course, the biggest commemorations are happening in his hometown, The Hague, with a months-long “Celebrating Kylián!” program.

Kylián created exactly 100 ballets in his 30-year career at Netherlands Dance Theater. But today his focus has shifted to photography and film, so it’s fitting that the celebrations kick off next week with the premiere of his new film, Scalamare.

Kylián says he got the idea for Scalamare when visiting an oceanside monument for the fallen in Ancona, Italy. “I was fascinated by the symbolism of the place—the sea that gives and takes—and by the angle of the light on the long steps, which caused me to see my own shadow disintegrate in geometric patterns, like a Malevitch painting,” Kylián says.

Scalamare, photo by Jiri Kylián

In the film, a couple celebrating their 40th anniversary return to the spot of their honeymoon. “They realize that they arrived at an end state of their life and decide to end it right there and they walk into the sea,” says Kylián. “The film doesn’t have a logical order of scenes; it is more a surrealistic film influenced by Magritte. Death for me is a farewell, it is a kind of nostalgic celebration of life.”The couple in the film is danced by Peter Jolesch, and Kylián’s wife and muse Sabine Kupferberg—who has been married to Kylián for 40 years (!).

Last Touch, photo by Robert Benschop

Here’s where to get your Kylián fix:

March 28-30:
Premiere of Scalamara, plus Last Touch First and Birth-day, performed by former NDT3 dancers in The Hague

April 6- June 20:
Introdans performs Songs of a Wayfarer in Arnhem

April 10:
Lyon Opera Ballet performs Sleepless

April 14:
Atlanta Ballet performs Petite Mort

April 17:
Nice Ballet performs Sinfionetta

April 26:
USC dancers perform Falling Angels

May 8-12:
Kylián’s photo installation “Free Fall” opens in The Hague

May 10-12:
Former NDT3 dancers perform East Shadow in The Hauge

June 16-17:
One of a Kind performed by students of The Hague Royal Conservatory and Codarts Rotterdam

October 12-13:
Les Ballets de Monaco perform Bella Figura, Gods and Dogs and Chapeau in The Hague

November 25-26:
Norwegian National Ballet performs six of Kylián’s “black and white” ballets—No More Play, Sechs Tänze, Sarabande, Falling Angels, Sweet Dreams and Petite Mort

Also in the fall:
Royal Danish Ballet will present an all-Kylián program, to be announced.