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A production of the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur
In collaboration with the Ballet at the Slovak National Theater

Danse Danse is rolling out the red carpet for Kylián le grand. This splendid tribute to one of the 20th century’s foremost choreographers is being presented in an enriched version. Created in 2006, the new program features a fresh selection of solos, duets, trios and ensemble pieces choreographed mostly by Jirí Kylián. Interspersed with highlights from a film interview with the master, Kylián le grand is an encounter with a dance legend. Unmissable!

Kylián le grand

Put together by dancer Anik Bissonnette, the artistic director of the Festival des Arts de Saint-Sauveur, and Mário Radacovsky, the director of the Ballet at the Slovak National Theatre (BNTS) and a former dancer with the Nederlands Dans Theater, Kylián le grand has been performed on only two nights—in Saint-Sauveur in the summer of 2006. Given that Jirí Kylián is Anik Bissonette’s favourite choreographer and Mário Radacovsky’s mentor and friend, the two were only to happy to answer the call from Danse Danse and re-stage this remarkable project.

The original program has been slightly modified: while the duets Petite Mort and Blackbird have been happily retained, other works such as Un Ballo, also by Kylián, have been added. The program will also contain pieces by Mário Radacovsky; and others choreographers in residence at the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT). Performing these marvels will be Anik Bissonnette, Mário Radacovsky and Gioconda Barbuto, formerly of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and NDT III, along with dancers from the BNST and actual and formers interpreters  from NDT.

The production will also feature highlights from an interview with Kylián filmed in Holland by a Quebec crew led by director Sophie Bissonnette. The film reveals the inner workings of an exceptional man and a genius of dance. True moments of grace.

“To call it a runaway hit falls woefully short explaining how important Kylián le grand was for illuminating, educating and moving everyone who saw it. This multimedia homage to Kylián is radiant, transformational stuff. Everyone, even the vacationers who didn’t know anything about Kylián when they bought tickets […] departed in awe, marvelling at the humble genius and humanist who many dancers consider a God.” (Dance International, Vancouver)

Jirí Kylián

Jirí Kylián is among the most brilliant choreographers of his generation. A cosmopolitan artist who abhors nationalism and flag-waving, he was one of the first choreographers to build bridges between styles, ages and traditions. Kylián continues his relentless search for what he calls simply “the truth.” “While it is easy to lie with words,” he explains, “you cannot lie with the body.”  Through an impressive corpus of ballets—over ninety —Kylián has explored such themes as the couple, war, his homeland, and Japanese and native cultures. His works are represented in the repertoires of over eighty dance companies around the world.

“Jirí Kylián is a great neo-classical choreographer […] He offers his classical dancers a highly musical and fluid vocabulary […] As always with Kylián, it is intelligent, with the purity and precision of the finest lacework. While extremely complex, his choreographic language has the simplicity of genius.” (Yorgos Loukos, director of the Ballet de l’Opéra de Lyon since 1991)

Born in Prague in 1947, Jirí Kylián studied dance at the Prague Conservatory and the  Royal Ballet School in London. In 1968 he joined the Ballet Stuttgart directed by John Cranko. In 1973 the NDT in The Hague invited Kylián to create works for the company. There he made a remarkable debut with Viewers, the first of dozens of choreographies he would create for NDT. Stoolgame followed in 1974, and La Cathédrale engloutie and Return to a Strange Land the following year.

In 1975 Kylián left the Ballet Stuttgart to become, at age 28, the co-director of NDT, then one of the world’s most innovative dance companies. That same year he created the ballet Sinfonietta, set to music by compatriot Leos Janácek, a work that firmly established his reputation worldwide. Beginning in 1980, he became the sole artistic director of NDT. During this span, Kylián not only made his mark as a choreographer (72 ballets for NDT and 92 works in all), but turned NDT into a crucible for such prominent choreographers as William Forsythe, Mats Ek, Christopher Bruce and Ohad Naharin—and an incubator for aspiring choreographers.

As the artistic director of NDT, he established a unique structure designed to reflect “the three dimensions of a dancer’s life.” He added NDT II, a young experimental company of dancers aged 17 to 22, and NDT III for dancers/performing artists over the age of 40. Such distinguished artists as Maurice Béjart, Maguy Marin, Hans van Manen, Nacho Duato, Robert Wilson and Paulo Ribeiro have endorsed the initiative over the years by contributing to each of these new sections.

In April 1995, Jirí Kylián celebrated his 20th anniversary as director of NDT with Arcimboldo, a large-scale production that involved all the dancers of NDT I, NDT II and NDT III.

Kylián stepped down as head of NDT in August 1999, but he continues to play a key role in the company as its resident choreographer.

In addition to several prizes voted on by the public, Jirí Kylián and his company have received numerous international distinctions, including the Sir Laurence Olivier Award  (London, 2000) and Nijinsky Awards (Monte-Carlo, 2000) in three categories: choreographer, work and company. That same year, Kylian won the Edinburgh Festival’s Archangel for a joint production involving NDT I and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

Jirí Kylián and his ballets have been the subject of numerous films and documentaries. The most recent was Boris Paval Conen's Car-Men (2006), shot at a coal mine in the Czech Republic and based on a choreography written especially for the film. It received the Grand Prize at the 2007 International Festival of Films on Art in Montreal.

Over the course of his prolific career, the choreographer has received numerous honours, including the “Orde van Oranje Nassau” from Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and the “Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur” from the French government. Jirí Kylián also received the medal of honour from the President of the Czech Republic, an honorary doctorate from the Juilliard School in New York, and two Benois de la danse. At the Gala of Dutch Dance in 2006, Kylián was given a “special appreciation” award: the Jirí Kylián ring.

Duration: to be determinate

To be created in November 2008. Will include at least the following pieces signed by Jirí Kylián: Petite mort (duet by Bissonnette / Radacovsky), Un Ballo (group piece), Black bird and many others by Kylián and/or others choreographers in link with the NDT.

Kylián le grand
: Jirí Kylián, Mário Radacovsky and others
Original idea: Anik Bissonnette, Mário Radacovsky
Set design: Mário Radacovsky
Dancers: Anik Bissonnette, Mário Radacovsky, Gioconda Barbuto, etc.
Scene team
Light adaptation: Martin Saintonge
Video team
Realization: Sophie Bissonnette
Graphic Direction and Conception: Denis Dulude
Director of photography: Maxime B. Théoret
Montage: Denis Dulude
Original music: Christian Thomas
Mix and sound montage: Michael E. Delaney
Video Consultant: Jason Rodi
Studio Redbox: Richard Pichet & Jonathan Laberge
Photographer: Michael Slobodian
Verbatim: Joanne Breton

Thanks to Richard Blackburn, Shootfilms & Bruno Tardy, Vidéoservice

Photos: David Asch
Photo layout: www.grisgrisdesign.com

March 2008