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Jiri Kylian pulls his rep from NDT

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Apparently Kylian is pulling his work from the NDT rep from summer 2014 to 2018 -- he feels this will challenge the company to explore new work and encourage new choreographers. This only applies to NDT -- other companies that dance his work (or are set to add some to their own repertories) are not embargoed.

There doesn't seem to be anything on their website -- this article from Australia goes into a little detail.

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... with this decision I force the company to innovate.

This is an extraordinary story. It also seems a tribute to Kylian's commitment to "new" choreography -- a creative opportunity he, and NDT as well, benefited from during his own career.

He said NDT had become great "because I was not bothered by tradition. Everything was possible, anything allowed. Now Paul feels the freedom to present [NDT] with new work and new names".

I wonder how many other Artistic Directors/Choreographers working today would be willing to follow Kylian's example.

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I appreciate Kylian's challenge to the company and the new artistic team, but I worry a bit about losing the momentum of the repertory -- are there works that will be eroded because of this hiatus, and are there dancers who might otherwise have had a crucial step in their development if the works weren't embargoed?

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The works that are performed outside NDT are a small handful, as are the commercially available works performed by his own company, so I think your concern is right on the mark. "Petite Mort" might be performed well by a number of ballet companies and be a great crowd-pleaser, but with different inflection and style than NDT as well, and it may be like watching the Mariinsky perform "Jewels": the works are there, but they're in translation.

I do understand feeling dragged by pressure to perform what has become a core rep, and how creating new work concurrently brings up the inevitable comparisons to the now-familiar standards, as everything coming out of NYCB is compared to Balanchine or Robbins.

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Balancing a repertory is a tricky business -- there's always a certain amount of "new" required for our vampire-ish tastes, but there's also a responsibility to heritage works, and to significant styles. I don't follow along with every change in the production schedules of the Royal Ballet, but we've all seen the ongoing discussion of the Ashton rep and its place in the RB. The less often the works are presented, the more difficult it is to maintain that style when they do come into active repertory. At NYCB specific works may come and go from the repertory, but I cannot imagine the company putting a significant percentage of their Balanchine repertory on hiatus to encourage other choreographers. I'm not trying to imply that Kylian is the equivalent of Balanchine overall, but he's certainly as central to the development of NDT as Balanchine is to NYCB.

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In the case of Ashton, what followed undermined the style instead of infusing it with new energy, and the technique needed to perform it diminished. When Lucien Postlewaite returned to guest in "Romeo et Juliette," he said in a Q&A that he was starting to lose his turns -- this was after six months -- and that Noelani Pantastico said that she had lost hers. (She's been away for five years.). Obviously not completely, but the ability necessary to perform demanding classical rep. Suzanne Farrell said that she and Paul Mejia gave themselves a Balanchine barre while with Bejart to keep up the skills.

Melissa Hayden was dismayed that Balanchine stopped giving jumps in class after Farrell had knee problems: while the new rep Balanchine was creating didn't demand them, the older rep certainly did. Even aside from style, will the new rep demand the same technique as the Kylian rep? Stylistically, there are the same issues with any sea change and with the change in generations.

What's interesting is that this is not an issue where a choreographer is pressured to program old rep that he's outgrown or, worse, to keep replicating the same-old, because any new direction is rejected out of hand. (When I was in college, many people treated Joni Mitchell's albums after "Blue" as self-heresy.) It's more like tossing the kids out of the house after high school graduation and telling them to deal with it.

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