Jiri Kylian's One of
6 February 1999 - Jiri Kylian, artistic director of the Nederlands
Dans Theater for over twenty years, presented a new, full-length
ballet for his company of 24 superb dancers on his third visit to
Paris in December.
One of a Kind was commissioned
earlier this year by the Dutch Minister of the Interior to celebrate
the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Dutch Constitution. "It
is a poem to freedom, a tribute to all the liberties of personal
expression", the Czech-born choreographer said.
wrote very individual choreography for each member of the company, and
Pieter Wispelwey, the Dutch cellist, one of Europe's finest
instrumentalists accompanies the work from beginning to end", he
One of a Kind is a rare work of art where
there is a total unity between the lighting, the decor, the music and
the dance. Everything, including the cello has its proper place on
When the curtain opened, the huge stage at the Palais
Garnier was plunged in darkness. Gradually, the dancers, dressed in
black justaucorps touched with shimmers of ruby or midnight-blue
emerged from the shadows, meeting, then confronting each other,
enthralling the spectators in a series of stupendous pas de deux. The
richness and inventiveness of the music was surpassed only by the
masterly use of a strong classical dance vocabulary.
dancers, sensuous and supple, classical to the very ends of their
finger-tips, moved with eerily light steps across the immense space,
sliding, dipping slow movements interspersed by quicksilver, lightning
Of particular interest was the fact that despite the
movements of the women, which were taken up by the men, it was the
brilliance of the male dancers which stood out, for the strength and
precision of their technique as much as for the fascinating use of
The music, played directly on stage
was written by the Australian Brett Dean, and imperceptibly
interspersed with the taped recordings of music by Benjamin Britten,
John Cage, David Hykes, Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa, David Lumsdaine, and
Chiel Meijering. Calm and grave in its starkly defined beauty, the
decor was designed by the Japanese architect, Atsushi Kitagawara,
while the lighting was by Michael Simon, a close colleague of Kylian's
for many years.
NOTE : Forty-seven year old Kylian, who began
working with Nederlands Dans Theater in 1973 will be changing his
status with the company, becoming resident choreograph and artistic
adviser, leaving him more time to concentrate on his creative work.
"The administration is being taken over by a new
appointee", he said, "other hands should guide the troupe
now. I'm surrounded by many gifted people, and I'm convinced the
company will prosper".