The genius of renowned Czech choreographer Jiri Kylian’s will be center stage this weekend at the National Theater as part of this year’s Taiwan International Festival of Arts.
While his works will be getting a lot of attention, Kylian himself is noticeable for his absence. He has reportedly developed a fear of flying in recent years, so he does not travel unless it is by road, rail or ship.
However, neither the 67-year-old Prague native nor his work are strangers to Taipei, thanks to the visits of his former home company, the Nederlands Dans Theater, in 1987, 1999 and 2002 and its offshoot NDT III in 2002, as well as other companies and performers who have his dances in their repertoire, such as South Korea’s Universal Ballet.
In a program titled Kylworks, six dancers will perform a line-up that includes three pieces — Anonymous, 14’20” and Birth-day — and the world premiere of a new work, Fortune Cookies, which is a coproduction with the National Theater Concert Hall.
Five of the dancers are former members of the Nederlands Dans Theater, including Kylian’s wife and longtime muse Sabine Kupferberg, as well as Cora Bos-Kroese, David Krugel, Aurelie Cayla and Lukas Timulak. Both Kupferberg and Krugel danced at the National Theater during the NDT III’s 2002 visit.
The sixth member of the troupe is American dancer/choreographer Michael Schumacher, who has danced with Ballet Frankfurt, Twyla Tharp Dance, the Feld Ballet and the Pretty Ugly Dance Company.
Kylian became artistic director of the Nederlands Dans Theater in 1975, a position he held until 1999, when he stepped down from that post, although he remained as the company’s resident choreographer until 2009.
WHEN: Tonight and tomorrow at 7:30pm, tomorrow and Sunday at 2:30pm
WHERE: National Theater (國家戲劇院), 21-1 Zhongshan S Rd, Taipei City (台北市中山南路21-1號)
ADMISSION: NT$500 TO NT$2,500; available at NTCH box offices, online at www.artsticket.com.tw and at 7-Eleven ibon kiosks and other convenience chain store ticketing kiosks
With Kylworks, Kylian is continuing an effort he began when he founded NDT III in 1991 to provide a vehicle for dancers who were, as he put it, “between 40 and death” — proving that dance is ageless and all ages can dance. He has also shifted his focus in recent years from large ensemble pieces to smaller, more intimate works, as well as working on a film.
The only work on this weekend’s program that has been seen before in Taipei is the rococo frolic Birth-day, created in 2001 to a selection of Mozart, which has the dancers appearing both on stage and in video clips that are intersperced throughout the piece. While the premise of this rollicking piece is that it is Kupferberg’s birthday, it also centers around the idea that each birthday brings us closer to death.
Anonymous is a dance and video installation created in 2011. 14’ 20” is a duet, excerpted from the a piece titled 27’52” that was created in 2002; in both cases the time in the titles refer to the exact length of the works.
Kylworks is about 120 minutes long, with 2 intermissions, and there is an advisory about nudity in some of the works.
There will be a 30 minute introductory talk in the theater’s first floor lobby before all four performances and a post-show talk after Sunday’s matinee.