Celebrating Kylián! | No. 1 Birth-Day + Scalamare + Last Touch First
“Triple bill: Birth-Day + Sclamare + Last Touch First”
On March 21st master choreographer and native son of Prague Jiří Kylián is turning 70. The Holland Dance Festival, Kylián Productions and Foundation, the Zuiderstrandtheater, Korzo Theater and Productions and Nederlands Dans Theater will celebrate his birthday in style with an eclectic festival: Celebrating Kylián! Throughout the year various aspects of Kylián’s multifaceted artistry will be presented.
Sabine Kupferberg’s birthday is celebrated with the music of Mozart in Birth-Day. We see five dancers completely dressed in Baroque costumes positioned around a long table. The comedy that slowly unfolds delights the audience with a duet between real time action and cinema. But Birth-Day also has a dark side; a new birthday also brings you a year closer to death. In between our day of birth and our death, we put much time and energy into desires, loves, creations, and confusion. For Kylián, the music of Mozart is a great example of this. Though his life was short, he understood it and all its richness, its madness, and buffoonery. The birthday — or rather life, — is masterfully portrayed as a mere dress rehearsal for something more meaningful and profound.
Last Touch First
It all started with a very simple idea, initiated by the Holland Dance Festival. Danceimproviser Michael Schumacher and dancer Sabine Kupferberg were to make a duet based on improvisation systems that were developed while working together on ‘The Moment’, a piece created for Nederlands Dans Theater III in 2001. This idea, however, sprouted into a sizable project based on Jiří Kylián’s Last Touch which he created for Nederlands Dans Theater I in 2003. Together with Jiří Kylián and Sabine Kupferberg, Schumacher made the ensemble piece, Last Touch First.
Last Touch First is an intimate and moving performance, wherein desperation, madness and loneliness touch the deepest depths of the six characters. The dancers move in super slow motion for almost an hour in a time reminiscent of 19th century and the grotesque theatre of Anton Chekhov. The six dancers and the scenery combine to create a magical and gripping atmosphere.
In 2015, I was invited to the Cinematica festival in Ancona. While I was there, I was taken to the Monumento ai Caduti, with its impressive stairs leading straight down into the Adriatic sea. I stood atop these steps and looked at my own shadow sprawled across in all kinds of abstract rectangular shapes. I found this very telling and symbolic and decided to make a short film inspired by these impressions.
The symbolism of the place is easy to understand. There stands the monument dedicated to the soldiers who fell in the war, there you see the stairs which can lead you up or down, and there waits the life-giving and life-taking sea.
The film’s plot was simple, too: a couple who has been together for forty years are celebrating the anniversary of their honeymoon, which started on these very steps.
So here they are again, forty years later, on the same spot, looking back at their lives, trying to come to terms with it, and trying to look into their very short and unsure future.
With tears and laughter, humour and sarcasm, they try to re-enact some of the moments they shared in the past. The seemingly important moments have diminished by the passage of time, some of the lesser moments have gained prominence. The eternal struggle between the micro cosmos and macro cosmos is always near. Values change and a sense of loss and nostalgia hangs in the air.
The celebration of their honeymoon starts to turn into a hallucination, an illusion in which the line between reality and fantasy no longer exists. Only the abstract shadows bare silent witness to this scene…
Jiří Kylián – September 10, 2016