(b Prague, 21 Mar. 1947)
Czech dancer, choreographer, and director. He studied at the Prague conservatory and at the Royal Ballet School, joining Stuttgart Ballet in 1968, where he became a soloist. In 1970 he choreographed the first of his many ballets for the company, Kommen und Gehen (mus. Bartók), and was recognized by Cranko as a major talent. In 1973 he made his first work for Nederlands Dans Theater, Viewers (mus. Martin), and in 1975 was appointed co-artistic director of NDT, becoming artistic director and choreographer in 1977. In 1995 he was named Officer in the Ordre van Oranje Nassau. In 1999 he resigned as director of NDT, succeeded by Marian Sarstädt, but retained his post as resident choreographer and artistic adviser until 2009. From the outset his style fused the fleetness and precision of classical ballet with the weight and muscularity of modern dance, and early works like Symphony of Psalms (mus. Stravinsky, 1978) exemplified the special fluency of his movement. Movements unfurled in a seamless connection with the music, and individual dancers were knit into large eloquent groups or into the lyrically sculpted duets and pas de trois which characterize one of his best-known works, Return to the Strange Land (mus. Janáček, 1975). Though these works were not overtly narrative they encompassed a wide emotional range from the exuberance of Sinfonietta (mus. Janáček, 1978) to the darker emotions of Field Mass (mus. Martinů, 1980) and Heart's Labyrinth 1 (mus. Schoenberg, Webern, Dvořák, 1984) or the athleticism of his Aboriginal-based Stamping Ground (mus. Chavez, 1983). In recent years his fluency has been deliberately disrupted by more angular movement and abrupt gestures, and he has introduced surreal theatrical elements to express complex ideas as in Bella Figura (mus. various, 1995). Though Kylián has choreographed almost exclusively for NDT and its sister companies (NDT 2 and 3), creating over 100 works for the organization, his works have been taken into the repertories of many companies around the world. His other works include Transfigured Night (mus. Schoenberg, NDT 1975), Nuages (mus. Debussy, Stuttgart Ballet, 1976), Symphony in D (mus. Haydn, NDT, two-part version 1976, three-part version 1977, and four-part version 1981), November Steps (mus. Takemitsu, NDT, 1977), Rainbow Snake (mus. Norby, NDT, 1978), Dream Dances (mus. Berio, NDT, 1979), Forgotten Land (mus. Britten, Stuttgart Ballet, 1981), Les Noces (mus. Stravinsky, NDT, 1982), Dreamtime (mus. Takemitsu, NDT, 1983), L'Enfant et les sortilèges (mus. Ravel, NDT, 1984), Silent Cries (mus. Debussy, NDT, 1986), L'Histoire du Soldat (mus. Stravinsky, NDT, 1986), Hearts Labyrinth (new version, mus. Schoenberg, Webern, and Dvořák, NDT, 1987), No More Play (mus. Webern, NDT, 1988), Falling Angels (mus. Reich, 1989), Sweet Dreams (mus. Webern, NDT, 1990), Sarabande (mus. Bach, NDT, 1990), Un Ballo (mus. Ravel, NDT2, 1991), Petite Mort (mus. Mozart, NDT, 1991), Obscure Temptations (mus. Cage, NDT3, 1991), Whereabouts Unknown (mus. Pärt, Reich, Ives, and de Roo, NDT, 1993), Arcimboldo (mus. various, 1995, revised for NDT1, 2 and 3, 2000), Wings of Wax (mus. von Biber, Cage, Glass, and Bach, NDT, 1997), Indigo Rose (mus. various, NDT2, 1999), Tar and Feathers (mus. based on Mozart, NDT, 2005), and Gods and Dogs (mus. Beethoven, NDT 2, 2008). He retired from his official post as resident choreographer for NDT in 2009 but continues to have a close association with the company.