Critical Analysis of Jiri Kylian’s Choreographic Style in His Black and White Ballets

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Anna Kisselgoff a professional dance critic believes; Jiri Kylian’s choreography resulted in ‘scores of younger choreographers being influenced by the emotional and kinetic thrust of his signature style, a highly physical fusion of ballet technique with the idiomatic freedom of modern dance. As an artist, he has been remarkably deep and original.’ Jiri Kylian’s ‘Black and White’ ballets, premiered on May 7, 1988, have a number of defining characteristics which create a unique contemporary style. Elements of movement, theatrical elements and themes are carried through all six dances which creates a number of motifs throughout the series of dance works.

All six dances in the ‘black and white’ ballets are based on sexuality. The male dancers in ‘Sarabande’ are dancing about masculinity, whereas the girls in ‘Falling angels’ are dealing with the issue of body image and pregnancy. ‘Petite mort’ is about sexual intercourse, the name ‘Petite mort’ translating into English as orgasm. The way the girls are lifted in all the dances represents at times the control men have over women like in ‘six dances’ and ‘sweet dreams’, ‘no more play’, and at other times, the relationship between male and female. Not only is the theme of sexuality a motif throughout the series of dances, it is also a defining characteristic of Jiri Kylian’s contemporary style.

Jiri Kylian’s dances are eclectic, inspired by folk, aboriginal, neo-classical and romantic classical dance, creating a variety of movements. Jiri Kylian’s inspiration from a number of sources results in his dances using dynamics, space and time in a unique way. This style of choreography is carried through all the ‘black and white’ ballets. Sharp percussive movements are followed by smooth elegant lines, which soon morph into a series of twitches, spasms, jerks and vibratory movements. This contrast in movement qualities, creates dynamics which is prominent to Kylian’s choreography. ‘Falling angels’ and ‘No more play’ both

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