Czech National Ballet Opens Israeli Opera Dance Season

Bella Figura – The Czech National Ballet/Photo: Sergej Gherciu

In an exciting return to live dance performances, the Israeli Opera announces the opening of the 2021 – 2022 dance season with a tribute to Jiří Kylián, one of the most renowned and influential choreographers of our time. The Czech National Ballet will present Bridges of Time, a selection of dances choreographed by Kylián. This unique program was created to celebrate Kylián’s 50 years of artistic creation. Performances will take place at the Israeli Opera from November 25 – 27, 2021.

Kylián, who was born in Prague in 1947, states on his website, that his first love was not for dance, but rather for the circus, and as a very young boy he wanted to be an acrobat. Yet his first experience of a dance performance was, in his words, “overwhelming”, and at age 9 he began to study dance at the School of the National Ballet Prague. In 1967 he received a scholarship to the Royal Ballet School in London, there he encountered choreographer John Cranko, who invited him to join the Stuttgart Ballet, which was where he began to create his first works as a choreographer. Kylián created three ballets for the Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT) – Viewers, Stoolgame and La Cathédrale Engloutie, and in 1975 was appointed the Artistic Director for the company, a position which he held until 2004. In 1978 he founded NDT 2 for young dancers, and in 1991 he founded NDT 3 for dancers over 40. I was fortunate enough to see, and write about Last Touch First, a work choreographed by Jiří Kylián with Michael Schumacher for NDT 3, when they performed in Tel Aviv in 2009: “A handwritten invitation on cream colored paper, Jiří Kylián and Michael Schumacher’s Last Touch First moves through the fabric of time, unfolding a tale of passion contained, blood surging under the skin… The expressive virtuosity of the dancers sustains the intensity of the piece throughout, drawing the viewer into the reverie, with only the chime of a wineglass to remind us: tempus fugit. No matter how slowly we move, each movement, each passing moment moves into the past.” (read the full review here)

Bridges of Time will include four works by Kylián, created between 1987 – 2008 for NDT: Bella Figura, Gods & Dogs, Petite Mort, and Sechs Tänze. The works were jointly selected by Kylián and the Czech National Ballet.

Bella Figura is described by Kylián as a search for beauty that encompasses all aspects of physical humanity, including, for the dancers an “acceptance of their deficiencies, doubts, vulnerabilities.”



Petite Mort – the French phrase refers to sexual orgasm, and this work is set to the slow movements from two of Mozart’s piano concertos. Discussing his editing of Mozart, leaving out the allegro, Kylián wrote: “I have cut them away from the fast movements, leaving them as mutilated torsos, lying helplessly in front of the listener and beholder. They lie there, like some ancient torsos, without arms and legs, unable to walk or embrace. There is no doubt that it is perverse to do such a thing. And yet we do.”



Gods & Dogs

In this work, Kylián reflects on the relationship of the individual to the norms of society, in particular the border between “‘normality and insanity’, between ‘health and sickness’ and all the norms, which determine one or the other, which fascinates me.”


Sechs Tänze

Choreographed to Mozart’s German dances, Kylián wrote of his inspiration: “Mozart…whose life was painfully limited, but who nevertheless understood life in all its richness, fantasy, clownery and madness.”


Performances will take place at the Israeli Opera: Thursday, November 25th at 20:00; Friday, November 26th at 13:00; Saturday, November 27th at 16:00 and 20:00.

Ticket prices range from 150 NIS – 350 NIS, and may be ordered online from the Israeli Opera website: or call: 03-6927777