Sinfonietta “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