“Sinfonietta” is perhaps my most spontaneous work. This was not 
by aim, but because of the extremely limited time and difficult 
conditions in which it was created. The company was “floating” 
at that time and had no definite plans, even for the nearest future. 
There was unrest among the dancers and I had very little 
experience to deal with the situation. It was in 1978 and I was 31. 
During this time I received a telephone call from Joseph Wishy, 
the director of the Charleston Festival in North Carolina, who 
asked me whether I ever heard of the composer Leoš Janáček 
and his composition "Sinfonietta"? I answered, that I knew his 
work since my studies at the Conservatory in Prague (I started 
my studies there in 1962) and that I always wanted to create a 
choreography to this particular piece of music which I knew inside 
out. I even forced my pour friends to listen to it over and over 
again while I was a dancer at the Stuttgart Ballet. At that time, 
NDT was not yet a well-organized institution and my relationship 
with Carel Birnie, the founding administrative director of the 
company, was not optimal. He advised me not to accept the offer 
because he knew that the production time was extremely limited. 
But my feeling and my sense for adventure told me that the time 
was right, and I said “yes”.  

Carel then stood up, took my hand and said: "Okay, and we’ll do 
it together". This was quite a moving moment and a beginning of a 
new, remarkable and exciting partnership.The painter, Walter Nobbe, 
who designed the costumes and decor for “Sinfonietta”, was with 
me when I took the decision to accept the offer. This was another 
important and emotional moment in my life. Walter and myself have 
ecome lifelong friends. 

Rehearsing whilst on tour in Israel, asking the dancers to work 
overtime, and myself making impossible hours, we made it! The 
result certainly reflected the spontaneity, spirit and the enthusiastic 
engagement of everyone. The effect it had on the people who saw 
the première in Charleston in that summer of 1978, was truly 
remarkable. The audience was unable to hear the final part of the 
music, because they were already standing on top of their chairs, 
cheering and throwing their program books into the air. The next 
morning there came interview requests from many major American 
newspapers and magazines. This was the moment that totally 
changed NDT. “Sinfonietta” managed to open new doors for the 
company and gave it completely unexpected future possibilities.     
					Jiří Kylián - The Hague, May 28, 2020