A ballet of 27 minutes and 52 seconds by Jiří Kylián

Jirí Kylián’s 27’52” , a ballet he created in 2002 for NDT 2, takes the viewer along for a game of seeking and being sought, of holding and being held, pulling and pushing. A game in which the dancer must ultimately exit the stage solo. The title itself represents the length of the piece, 27 minutes and 52 seconds. Also, it refers to the date of birth of the former dancer and NDT icon to whom the work is dedicated, Gerald Tibbs (20-07-1952).

27’52” was developed through a unique collaboration between choreographer and composer, as German composer Dirk Haubrich created the music specifically for this piece.

In the NDT 2 programme The beauty of it all the young dancers of the company perform this work again. In this story we tell you more about this creation, you will find quotes from dancers from the original cast and photos of different generations of NDT 2 dancing 27’52“.

Jiří Kylián about 27'52"

“The title only represents the exact duration of the piece. It is related to the time the dancers take to perform it. But the dancers performance starts many hours before the curtain goes up….! Dancers invest much time, experience and concentration to prepare for the moment in which they face the audience….! But in fact they throw themselves in front of the audience and solely represent what they are worth at that point of their life.
27’52” is a work concerned with at least four elements: “Time”, “Speed”, “Love” and “Constant changes”. We might not be aware, but we don’t only become older on our birthday, but every split of a second of our life is responsible for our aging, and every moment of our life represents some kind of change….! To me this is a very reassuring and liberating thought. We don’t have to remain the same from our birth to our death….! We have the ability to change. I know that this is an essential part of the teaching of many eastern religions, but it is still very exciting when we actually realize it.

In 27’52″ there are some more realistic elements worth mentioning. The set has actually two major parts: The floor underneath the dancers’ feet and the ceiling above. In the course of the performance we notice that both of these elements are unstable and unreliable. Everything is constantly moving: our age, our interest, our partnership, our future and our destiny. This means that the only thing we can rely on is uncertainty…. And although I am an incurable optimist, I must admit that this fact is the most fateful and faithful companion of our life.
Of course this piece is about existence, love and death….! But it is also about many things in between and it is ultimately up to the interpreter to find all the colors of the rainbow between the floor underneath our feet and the ceiling above our heads.”
– Jiří Kylián, June 2019

Dancers: Pierre Pontvianne, Parvaneh Scharafali. Photo: Joris-Jan Bos

Quotes from the original cast

The ballet is made for six dancers, who form 3 duets. At the time the ballet was created, four dancers from the original cast were inspired by various poems in the creation process. Quotes from these poems are also included in the work.

Read them below:

Pierre Pontvianne
A force de (Guillaume Depardieu/Barbara)

A force de m’être cherchée
C’est toi que j’ai perdu
Maintenant libre pour toi
C’est là que tu me manques
Tu me manques
Tant de solitude
Depuis ton départ
Même le fond se vide
Plus de sens à rien
Tu étais dans ma chair
Tu étais dans mon sang
Plus pareil dans moi
Plus moi-même sans toi
Même le fond se vide
Et tout est fade
Comme tout s’efface
Plus de sens à rien
Irais-je alors avec les anges
Maintenant que tu es parti

Marthe Krummenacher
L’Albatros – Baudelaire

Souvent, pour s’amuser, les hommes d’équipage
Prennent des albatros, vastes oiseaux des mers
Qui suivent, indolents compagnons de voyage,
Le navire glissant sur les gouffres amers

Le poëte est semblable au prince des nuées
Qui hante la tempête et se rit de l’archer
Excilé sur le sol au milieu des huées,
Ses ailes de géant l‘empêchement de marcher

Dancers: Pierre Pontvianne, Marthe Krummenacher. Photo: Joris-Jan Bos.
Miguel Oliveira
The Tao of Jet Kunedo – Bruce Lee

 The point is the doing of them, rather than the accomplishments
There is no actor but the action, there is no experiencer but the experience
An artist’s expression, is his soul made apparent.
His schooling as well as his `cool’ being exhibited.
Behind every motion the music of his soul is made visible.
Otherwise his motion is empty.

Parvaneh Scharafali
Dalai Lama –  from the film ‘Kundun’

Darf ich Sie fragen wer Sie sind?
Was Sie sehen ist nichts weiter als ein Mensch.
Ein einfacher Mensch.
Seid Ihr der Erwürdige?
Auch ich bin nur ein Spiegelbild, wie der Mond auf dem Wasser.
Wenn Sie mich sehen, und an das Gute im Menschen glauben, erkennen Sie sich selbst.


1687,0 hours of rehearsal with individual dancers
182,5 hours with the assistant to the choreographer in the studio
629,0 hours to make the music
46,0 hours to prepare and make the voice-recordings
229,0 hours pre-production (meetings, décor, ateliers)
15,0 hours for musical research
438,0 hours for costume preparation & making of costumes
20,0 hours to light/stage the work
12,0 hours for photo shoot
93,0 hours physiotherapy
900,0 hours of choreographer’s work
46,0 hours preparation classical classes
51,0 hours of organization around new production (management)
35,0 hours to make programbook
20,75 hours to make poster
14,5 hours for studio photos

4418,75  hours to make this production

This work will be performed and viewed in twenty-seven minutes and fifty-two seconds

Dancer: Parvaneh Scharafali. Photo: Joris-Jan Bos.

Different generations of NDT 2 dancers

Since the ballet was created in 2002, several generations of NDT 2 dancers have performed the ballet.

See more photos of other generations of NDT 2 dancers performing ’27’52″‘