Jiří Kylián
Photo: Anton Corbijn

Jiří Kylián


Jiří Kylián (Czechoslovakia, 1947) began his dancing training at the School of the National Ballet of Czechoslovakia in Prague and later studied at the Conservatory of Prague and the Royal Ballet School in London. He then joined the Stuttgart Ballet, where he later made his debut as a choreographer. After creating three ballets for Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT), he was appointed its artistic director in 1975. In 1978, he gained international recognition with Sinfonietta. That same year, he co-founded NDT 2 with Carel Birnie, serving as a breeding ground for young dancers. In 1991, he introduced NDT 3 for dancers over the age of 40. After an outstanding stint, Kylián handed over the artistic direction of NDT to Marian Sarstädt in 1999. However, he remained associated with the company as a resident choreographer until December 2009.

Kylián has created approximately a hundred pieces that are performed around the world. In addition to NDT, he has choreographed for the Stuttgart Ballet, Ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris, Bayerisches Staatsballett, Swedish Television, and The Tokyo Ballet. He collaborated with a large number of internationally acclaimed creative artists.

Kylián has also directed many films, including Car-Men (2006, with director Boris Paval Conen), Between Entrance & Exit (2013, with Conen and NTR), which was nominated for a Golden Calf, and the dance/film production East Shadow (2013). With director Jan Maliř, he made Schwarzfahrer (2014) and Scalamare (2017).

Kylián has garnered numerous international awards and honours. In the Netherlands, he received the rank of an Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau, and he was awarded the House Order of Orange-Nassau’s Honorary Medal for Art and Science, as well as a gold medal as an honorary citizen of The Hague. He also earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Czech Ministry of Culture, as well as an honorary medal from the Czech Republic’s President. He was named Commander of the French Ordre National de la Légion d’honneur. Kylián additionally received an honorary doctorate from the Juilliard School in New York, three Nijinsky Awards (best choreographer, company, and piece), the Prix Benois de la Danse, and the Positano Premia La Danza Léonide Massine.

In 2019, Kylián was inaugurated as a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and the Academy additionally established a special seat for dance. In 2021, Kylián received the Gratias Agit Award in Prague for his efforts in promoting the interests of Czech culture, heritage, and language.

Last update 27-03-2024

In the programme Dancing Dutch, which will premiere on 30 March 2024, Dutch National Ballet will perform its first-ever work by Jiří Kylián: Wings of Wax.