Biography Dancer and choreographer Jiří Kylián was born in 1947 in Prague - Czechoslovakia, to his father Václav who was a banker (born in a very simple village family, but later in life he became the first economist, and finally the director of the largest "Savings Bank" of the country) and to his mother Markéta, (who in her young age was a dancer-child protégée, and who managed to sell out theaters at the age of 10). Needless to say, that in the post war Czechoslovakia, it was highly unusual and hardly acceptable for a young boy to choose dance as his profession. But in the early days dance was not his first priority. His first love was circus, and after his grandmother Štěpánka took him to see the famous "Circus Busch", he decided to become an acrobat, and spent a considerable time learning this profession. When this school for acrobats had to close, Jiří's mother took him to see his first ballet performance! The experience was overwhelming, and had a decisive influence on his future. At the age of 9, he became a student at the "School of the National Ballet Prague". There he made his first attempts to create small choreographies for his colleague students. They were neither performed or even completed. In 1962 he was accepted as a student to the Prague Conservatory. Although this era was totally controlled by the omnipresent communist party, many of the teachers were excellent, as their own education was firmly rooted in the very liberal and fiercely democratic pre-war Czechoslovakia. One teacher, who left a deep mark on Jiří's professional development, was Zora Šemberová, who is known for her world first interpretation of Juliet (1938) in Prokofiev’s famous ballet. She was the kind of person who treasured truthfulness on stage, as well as in real life, above anything. In the framework of the Prague Conservatoire two first choreographies by Jiři were seen for the first time: (”Nine eighth’s” choreographed to jazz music and ”Quartet” - to music by Béla Bártok.) Czechoslovakia in the sixties (although totally in the grip of the communists) had created interesting cultural diversity, which was very unique and rich, with important connections to the western "free world". It was in 1967, that he had received a scholarship to study at the "Royal Ballet School" in London, the true cultural center of the world of that time (Hippies, Beatles, Nureyev, Fonteyn, and everything else.....). This scholarship was organized by Jennie Lee, the Arts Minister of UK at that time. There he met the choreographer John Cranko, who offered him a contract, to become a member of the highly acclaimed "Stuttgart Ballett". Before taking up his contract, he returned to Prague for a short summer holiday. In the meantime, Czechoslovakia started its process of reformation of the communist regime under the leadership of Alexander Dubček. On the 21st of August 1968, the invasion of the communist "Warsaw-Pact " forces began. On the 28th of August, after taking part in many demonstrations against the occupation, he left for Germany. The attempt of Dubček and his supporters, to create a "Socialism with a human face" was crushed. The Stuttgart Ballett under the direction of Cranko, was one of the most celebrated companies of that time. Cranko himself was a man of free spirit, and a great communicator. Many interesting personalities took refuge under his wings. He was not afraid of rivalry and made his company available to established choreographers (Kenneth MacMillan, Glen Tetley..) or to young choreographers just starting their careers. It was in the "Noverre Gesellschaft" (the testing ground for young talent, which organized annual choreographic workshops), for which Kylian made his first work entitled "Paradox". Later Cranko asked him to create works for official premières for the main company. His first work was "Kommen und Gehen", created with Marcia Haydée and Richard Cragun. In 1971, Cranko decided to create the so-called "Noverre Company", which had the task to provide dance accompaniment to operas and operettas. He asked Kylián to supply this company with contemporary dance repertoire. ("Incantations", "Einzelgänger", "Blaue Haut"). In the early 70’s, Cranko had invited Glen Tetley to become a resident choreographer in Stuttgart. Tetley's work made an enormous impression on Kylián. Tetley was an intellectual, just as Cranko was, but his approach to dance was totally different. His understanding of movement, and its relation to space, was a revelation to Kylián. In 1973, after a very successful tour to the U.S.A., Cranko's sudden death at the age of 46, left the Stuttgart Ballet in disarray. The company scrambled to preserve Cranko's legacy and at the same time tried to find its way into the future. Kylián had stayed in Stuttgart under various directions including Glen Tetley's, in order to help bridge the difficult time after that terrible loss. In 1974 he created ”Return to a Strange Land”, dedicated to John’s memory. But he knew, that an eventual departure was inevitable. It was in the early seventies, that NDT was on tour in Stuttgart. They saw Kylián's work, and they were interested. Their invitation resulted in the choreography entitled "Viewers" in 1973. (Paradoxically, Cranko supplied this music to Kylián by handing him an LP, with the words: ”Maybe one day you can do something with it.....") After creating two more works for NDT ("Stoolgame" and "La Cathédrale Engloutie") the offer to become artistic co-director of NDT, together with Hans Knill, had arrived. NDT was one of the most innovative dance companies of Europe, enjoying great success practically from the beginning (1959). But after the departure of their two foremost choreographers, Hans van Manen and Glen Tetley, it was in decline. It was clear that the very foundation of the company had to be rebuilt. The most influential figure of NDT at that time was its founder and managing director, Carel Birnie. He was a powerful figure, who liked to control all aspects of the running of the company. This fact lead inevitably to certain unease between the artistic and administrative directors. The years of struggle, which followed, have largely subsided with the creation of "Sinfonietta", which Kylián had created to music of his co-patriot Leoš Janáček for the "Charleston Festival" in the USA (1978). The positive spirit of "Sinfonietta" led to its overwhelming success and opened many doors to NDT, which were closed until that time. Kylián saw the need to create large ensemble works, which would consolidate the new ambitions of the company (“Symphony of Psalms” 1978), as well as intimate pieces celebrating individuality (“Silent Cries”, 1986, dedicated to his longtime partner Sabine Kupferberg). Many important international tours have taken place: On its extensive travels, NDT performed in the most diverse places including the Prague National Theater, the Metropolitan Opera House, the Paris Opera or a Kibbutz Theater in Israel. The company traveled to countries with established democratic systems, or to countries with oppressive political regimes. We have done that, in order to speak to the audiences directly, leaving any political differences aside. NDT’s guest appearance in communist Czechoslovakia, in the "Prague Spring Festival" in 1980, was an important breakthrough of political dimension. Not only was the success overwhelming, but more importantly, the public with its long standing ovation, decided to send a message to the authorities stating that anybody should have the freedom to make a career abroad, return home, whenever he likes, and be allowed to show his work without any restrictions. In the early eighties, Kylián’s longtime interest in the culture of the Australian aboriginal people inspired the largest tribal gathering ever held in Australia. This powerful experience left a profound mark on him, and had a direct or indirect influence on creations that followed (”Stamping Ground” and ”Dream Time”, 1983). In the meantime NDT became a refuge for many creative people. In order to accommodate their need to express themselves, NDT started organizing so called "Christmas Cabarets" which were not only hysterically funny, but they also served as a platform allowing criticism of the artistic, or administrative direction, or simply as a ground, on which any personal wishes or frustrations could be heard. These "Christmas Cabarets" soon became "Choreographic Workshops", the new testing ground for young talent. Many choreographers, artistic directors or teachers, active in many places around the world now, have created their first works here. Realizing the importance of education of young dancers, Carel Birnie and Jiří Kylián have decided to create a new company- NDT II, in which young people would get the opportunity to develop their skills and talents in a period of two years, in order to become members of the main company of NDT (NDT I) or to find work elsewhere. Works like: ”27’52”, “Sleepless”, "Gods and Dogs" or "Chapeau" were especially designed for these young people. In the years between 1980-2000, NDT became an important place, where some of the most interesting creators produced their works: At that time, the artistic policy of the company had three main aims: 1) The invitation of some of the finest young choreographic talent from around the world: William Forsythe, Mats Ek, Christopher Bruce, Ohad Naharin and many others. 2) The inclusion of new creations by internationally recognized contemporary masters (Hans van Manen, Glen Tetley....). 3) Last, but certainly not least, the encouragement of creativity within the company's own ranks. The choreographic workshops became the breeding ground for many future choreographers such as: Paul Lightfoot & Sol León, Lukáš Timulák, Patrick Delcroix, Medhi Walerski, Jorma Elo, Karine Guizzo, Megumi Nakamura, Cora Bos-Kroese, Alexander Ekman, Václav Kuneš, Jérôme Meyer & Isabelle Chaffaud... or artistic directors: Nacho Duato - Compañia Nacional de Danza (Spain), Michailovski Ballet (Russia), Johan Inger - Cullberg Ballet (Sweden), Ed Wubbe - Scapino Ballet Rotterdam (Holland), Philip Taylor - Theater am Gärtnerplatz (Germany), Lionel Hoche - MéMé BaNjO (France), Mário Radačovský - National Ballet (Slovakia), James Vincent - Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (USA), Jo Kanamori - Noism 08 (Japan), Catherine Allard - I.T. Dansa (Spain). After many years of directorship, Kylián saw the departure of many fine and interesting performers. Dancers, who could no longer take part in the current repertoire of the company, but who posess a powerful personality, stage-presence, charisma, and the great gift to communicate with the public in the most basic human way. It was in 1990, that he decided to create a small group for dancers, who find themselves in the precarious age between "forty and death". The world premiere of this “Senior Company” was created by Hans van Manen, Mats Ek, William Forsythe and Jiří Kylián. The original dancers were: Sabine Kupferberg, Alida Chase, Gérard Lemaitre and Niklas Ek. The importance of this new development in dance was instantly recognized by the public, as well as by the media. Many choreographers of international stature have understood the importance of this new development, and have generously contributed to its rich and diverse repertoire: Hans van Manen, William Forsythe, Mats Ek, Maurice Béjart, Maguy Marin, Ohad Naharin, Jennifer Muller, Christopher Bruce, Martha Clarke, Carolyn Carlson, Nacho Duato, Paul Lightfoot, Robert Wilson, Erik Vos, Patrick Delcroix, Johan Inger, Shusaku Takeuchi, Susanne Linke, Paulo Ribeiro, Meryl Tankard, Michael Schumacher and many others... With its unique, three-dimensional structure, NDT I - mature dancers, NDT II - young dancers, NDT III - senior dancers, and with the building of its own theater, 1987, (designed by Rem Koolhaas), NDT has become different from any other dance company in the world, and was recognized as such by being given various prestigious awards. To commemorate the company’s 35th anniversary Kylián designed a special performance, making use of all three companies, entitled "Arcimboldo"(1995). Many talented people of NDT contributed to this production and its success. Sadly, shortly before the premiere Carel Birnie had died. In 1999, Kylián has passed the artistic direction to the new generation. He stayed connected to the company as a choreographer until December 2009. In the years between 1973 and today he has created 74 ballets for NDT. His entire body of work counts 98 creations to date. Besides creating for NDT, Kylián has made original works for the Stuttgart Ballet, Paris Opera, Swedish Television, Bayerisches Staatsballett München and the Tokyo Ballet. His creations are danced by more than 100 companies and schools world-wide. He has worked with many creative personalities of international stature; - Composers: Arne Nordheim (”Ariadne” 1997), Tōru Takemitsu (”Dream Time” 1983), Dirk Haubrich created 16 scores for the latest creations by Kylián. - Designers: Walter Nobbe (”Sinfonietta” 1978), Bill Katz (”Symphony of Psalms” 1978), John Macfarlane (“Forgotten Land” 1980....), Michael Simon (”Stepping Stones” 1991), Atsushi Kitagawara (”One of a Kind” 1998), Susumu Shingu (”Toss of a Dice” 2005), Yoshiki Hishinuma (‘’Zugvögel’’ 2009), Joke Visser created costumes for more than forty of Kylián's works and Kees Tjebbes made light designs for many of his creations. In the summer of 2006, together with Film Art Director Boris Paval Conen, he created the film Car-Men. It was choreographed “on location" on the surface brown coal mines of the Czech Republic. In the course of his career, Kylián received many national and international awards including: "Commander of the Legion d'honneur" France, “Golden Lyon Award” in Venice, "Officer of the Orange Order"- Netherlands. "Honorary Doctorate" - Julliard School New York and Prague. Three "Nijinsky Awards" - Monte Carlo (best choreographer, company and work "One of a Kind"), Two "Benoit de la Dance" awards - Moscow and Berlin. "Honorary Medal" from Václav Havel, the President of the Czech Republic and a cultural award for “Art and Science” from Beatrix - Queen of the Netherlands.