Jiři Kylian started his dance career at the age of nine at the School of the National Ballet in Prague. In 1962 he was accepted as a student at the Prague Conservatory. He left Prague when he received a scholarship for the Royal Ballet School in London in 1967.
After this, he left for the Stuttgart Ballet led by John Cranko. Kylian made his debut as a choreographer here with Paradox for the Noverre Gesellschaft. After having made three ballets for Nederlands Dans Theater (Viewers, Stoolgame and La Cathédrale Engloutie), he became Artistic Director of the company in 1975. In 1978 he put Nederlands Dans Theater on the international map with Sinfonietta. That same year, together with Carel Birnie, he founded Nederlands Dans Theater II, which was – and is – designed to give young dancers the opportunity to develop their skills and talents and to function as a ‘breeding ground’ for young talent.
He also initiated Nederlands Dans Theater III in 1991, a company for ‘older’ dancers. After an extraordinary record of service, Kylian handed over the artistic leadership in 1999, but remained associated to the dance company as house choreographer.
Jiři Kylian has created 92 ballets so far, 72 of which were for Nederlands Dans Theater. His work is performed all over the world by more than 80 companies and schools. Kylian has not only made works for Nederlands Dans Theater, but also for the Stuttgart Ballet, the Paris Opera, Swedish television and the Tokyo Ballet. He has worked with many creative personalities of international stature and in the summer of 2006, together with director Boris Paval Conen, he created a film entitled CAR-MEN. It was choreographed on location in the open brown coal mines of the Czech Republic. Gods and Dogs (subtitle: an unfinished work, November 2008) is Kylian’s most recent work created for Nederlands Dans Theater II.
Over the course of his career Kylian has received many international awards and honours, including Officer of the Royal Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau, honorary doctorate from the Juilliard School in New York, three Nijinsky Awards in Monte Carlo (best choreographer, company and work), Benois de la Danse in Moscow and Berlin, Honorary Medal from the President of the Czech Republic and Chevalier du Legion d’Honneur in France. In 2008 he received the Golden Lion at Venice Biennale and the Medal for Art and Science of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix.
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