|3. Satz aus »Tombeau de Couperin« (1914–1917), »Pavane pour une infante défunte« (1899)
When Jiří Kylián made his first piece for the Nederlands Dans Theater II, his intention was to create a choreographic etude for the young dancers to further their musicality, practice the art of pas de deux, and develop their overall sensibility. With its universal themes of transience and passing, «Un Ballo» was first performed in the Netherlands in 1991. Kylián was influenced by Maurice Ravel’s personal dedications of the ballet's musical settings: each movement of «Tombeau de Couperin» is dedicated to a specific person who died in the First World War, except for «Pavane pour une infante défunte», which is dedicated to a young infant who died in the Spanish royal family in the 17th century.
Kylián is known for his very specific ways of using imagery in the choreographic development of his work in the studio. During the creation of «Un Ballo», he was looking at Diego Velásquez’s portraits of Spanish princesses: “Although these vulnerable faces of children are so sensitively painted, they cannot disguise the fact that death is just around the corner. And their elaborate dresses are treated by almost irrelevant brushstrokes of the painter symbolising the fugitive quality of life…! I have hardly ever seen a representation of the depth and fleeting quality of life so close to one another as in the paintings of Velásquez.”
«Un Ballo» was created during a phase of Kylian’s choreographic oeuvre known as the “Black and White Ballets”. Each work from this period is like stepping into a very particular universe, where theatrical devices dictate the unique metaphysics that govern each ballet. And this can certainly be said of «Un Ballo». When the curtain rises, dancers emerge in silence to ignite a sea of candles, which are later suspend in the air to preside over the development of the ballet. The result is nothing short of magical.
ABOUT JIŘÍ KYLIÁN
Jiří Kylián began his choreographic career as a dancer with John Cranko at the Stuttgart Ballet. He went on to lead the Netherlands Dance Theatre for more than a quarter of a century, amassing a choreographic oeuvre of more than 100 ballets. In 2019, Kylián was inaugurated as a member of the Académie des Beaux Arts in Paris. This highly prestigious recognition was made even more special by the Academy’s decision to change its statutes and add a new seat for ‘dance’.
First premiered on 17 January 1991 by the Nederlands Dans Theater II
Premiere on 11 November 2018 as part of the 40th anniversary matinée of the Heinz-Bosl-Stiftung at the Nationaltheater Munich
»Ich habe nie die Notwendigkeit verspürt, meine ästhetischen Grundsätze zu formulieren, weder für andere noch für mich«, bekannte Maurice Ravel in den Lettres, die 1956 posthum in der Revue de Musicologique veröffentlicht wurden.
Shirley Esseboom, trusted stager of Jiří Kylián’s ballets, returned to Munich in 2022 to work on «Un Ballo» with dancers of the Bavarian Junior Ballet Munich ahead of the Heinz-Bosl-Foundation’s Spring Matinees. In this video she talks about Kylián's work and the challenges it contains for young dancers coming straight out of school.