“The beginnings were challenging to say the least. The organization was not well structured, and its powerful and charismatic founding director, Carel Birnie, was suspended by the board of directors. But he contested this decision successfully and was reappointed in his position as Director. However, the fact that I was chosen as the company’s new Artistic Director by NDT’s board of directors against Carel Birnie’s will, made our relationship very difficult. Many dancers were also not very happy with my engagement, and left…. But some dancers understood that there was a possibility to make a new start. They probably felt that I was serious. So we started working.
It took three years to lay aside any mistrust between Carel and myself. I was offered to create a choreography to Leoš Janáček’s ‘Sinfonietta‘ for the Charleston Festival (USA) in 1978. Carel Birnie warned me that there was not enough time for the creation process, but I decided to go for it. At that moment Carel took my hand and said: “O.K. now we will do it together.” And so we did….! The success of Sinfonietta was overwhelming and opened many doors for NDT. Countless tours to big and small places of the world followed: a kibbutz in Israel, Metropolitan Opera house N.Y., Paris Opera and a dangerous guest appearance in communist Czechoslovakia in 1982 (I only had a ‘stateless’ passport in my hands)….!”