Profile: Jiří Kylián (Czechoslovakia, 1947) started his dance career at the age of nine, at the School of the National Ballet in Prague. In 1962 he was accepted as a student at the Prague Conservatory. He left Prague when he received a scholarship for the Royal Ballet School in London in 1967. After this, he joined the Stuttgart Ballet led by John Cranko. There Kylián made his debut as a choreographer with Paradox for the Noverre Gesellschaft. After having made three ballets for Nederlands Dans Theater (Viewers, Stoolgame and La Cathédrale Engloutie), he became the company’s Artistic Director, together with Hans Knill, in 1975. During the 1978 Charleston Festival in the United States Kylián put Nederlands Dans Theater on the international map with Sinfonietta (Leoš Janácek).
After an extraordinary record of service Kylián handed over the artistic leadership in 1999, but remained associated to the dance company as house choreographer until 2009.
Kylián’s work is performed by companies and schools all over the world. In the course of his career Kylián has received many international awards and honours, including Officer of the Royal Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau, honorary doctorate of the Juilliard School in New York, three Nijinsky Awards in Monte Carlo (best choreographer, company and work), Benois de la Danse in Moscow and Berlin, Honorary Medal from the President of the Czech Republic and Chevalier du Légion d’Honneur in France. In 2008 Kylián was awarded the ‘Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement’ of the Venice Biennale and the Medal of the Order of the House of Orange for Arts and Science.