One of the choreographer’s initial sources of inspiration for Tar and Feathers (2006) was found in the medieval ritual of punishment by pouring black tar on a person and covering them with feathers. For Kylián, the black, sticky tar bound by gravity offset by delicate feathers as objects associated with lightness and elevation, forms a metaphor for the ‘unbearable lightness’ and the ‘unbearable weight’ of our human existence. At a grand piano perching on metre-high legs, pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama improvises around Mozart’s Piano concert Nr. 9. Against this stunning musical backdrop, six dancers perform intriguing, mysterious movement in a surreal black and white world. Throughout the work, we hear Kylián recite What is the word by Samuel Beckett, the last poem the Irish author wrote on his deathbed, that grapples with an inability to find words to express oneself.
Gods and Dogs (2008) was originally created for NDT 2 and marked Jiří Kylián’s 75th choreography. This mysterious work visualizes the fine line between normality and insanity. Or as Kylián puts it: “Surely no positive developments can ever be accomplished without the help of a healthy portion of madness.” Gods and Dogs is called ‘an unfinished work’, referring to Kylián’s fascination for the beauty of what is left incomplete in life. The work won the Dutch Zwaan Award for ‘Most Impressive Dance Production’ in 2008.
The idea of Bella Figura (1995) is a parable on the relativity of sensuality, beauty, and aesthetics. In Italian, “Bella Figura” doesn’t only stand for “beautiful figure”, but also represents the resilience of people facing a difficult situation, or “putting on a brave face”. About this work, Kylián says: “For a long time, I have asked myself: What is a performance, and who are the performers? When does the performance begin or end? (…) Where is the border between art and artificiality, between the truth and a lie? I am interested in this world “in between”, just before a performance begins, when the dancers start changing from private persons into performers. It is a world in which all kinds of realities merge in an unpredictable and surreal way.”