Choreographer Jiří Kylián has become the member of Académie des beaux-arts

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Académie francaise is a reputable institution with Académie des beaux-arts being its inseparable part since its establishment in 1816. Becoming the member of the Academy virtually means to be “immortal”. To accept a foreigner as its member (membre associé étranger) is a unique event, which applies only to several people in the field of performing and visual arts. One of them was Antonín Rejcha, the musician of Czech origin, in 1835. The native of Prague was the director of the Conservatory in Paris and the teacher of great men like Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, César Franck or Charles Gounod.

It is 25th April 2018 and the Académie des beaux-arts elects the second Czech in history to be its member. The approval of Jiří Kylián’s membership by the French minister for Europe and foreign affairs follows. The communiqué confirming the exceptional honor is officially published on 25th May 2018.

How do they write about Jiří Kylián’s life journey abroad?

Jiří Kylián’s journey to dance led from acrobatics and the National Theatre ballet preparatory school to the Dance Conservatory Prague. The scholarship at the Royal Ballet School in London made it possible for Kylián to meet choreographer John Cranko, who offered him a contract in Stuttgart Ballet. In 1975, he accepted the offer to artistically co-manage the Nederlands Dans Theatre in Haag. In 1978, after the unprecedented success of Sinfonietta ballet, he was appointed the NDT artistic director. The Symphony of Psalms, his second act of the period, won international renown for the company. After the period of a shift towards the abstract style of the 1980s, his work has been immensely influenced by his encounter with indigenous people in Australia. Jiří Kylián left the job of the NDT artistic director in 1999, yet he remained the residential choreographer. Since the 1970s, he has created hundreds of ballets, three thirds of them were for NDT. He has received many awards, including Nijinsky Award administered in Monte Carlo or the Legion of Honor.

We may add that the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague conferred the degree of doctor honoris causa on him. In one of his supreme works, Arcimboldo, which he created for the 35th NDT anniversary, he merged all periods of a dancing career from 17 to 70 years of age. Our audiences have had the possibility to see it, too. He was inspired by Zora Šemberová, the first world performer of Julie in Prokofiev’s ballet.

The membership in the Académie des beaux-arts has had seven categories so far: Architecture, Film and Photography, Graphic Arts, Music, Painting, Sculpture and Independent Members category. On 25th April, the day when I was elected the Académie member, choreography became the new category. I am happy about that and I hope that other members of our guild are happy as well,” Jiří Kylián explains and adds:

"I guess you would be interested in the fact that the only predecessors from our guilt were Marcel Marceau and Maurice Béjart. They fell within the category of independent members because the category of Choreography had not been established yet. I admired both of them. They opened the door of magic, innovation, beauty and imagination. They were the greatest heroes of my childhood. I realize how important has been for me to see their productions and meet them later.”

And it is Jiří Kylián with his overlapping work East Shadow opening the 30th jubilee festival Dance Prague in the PONEC Theatre.

The retrospective multimedia exhibition Celebrating Kylián! is an exceptional opportunity to learn about the work of the significant choreographer. The exhibition is organized by the Kylián Fund Prague in close cooperation with the National Theatre Ballet and Dance Prague festival. The audiences have the chance to see the exhibition from 5th to 10th June and from 11th to 25th October 2018 in Building B of the National Theatre at Václav Havel Square.

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Source: Dance Prague, photo: Anton Korbijn, Dance Prague