Whenever we decide to celebrate a jubilee, we inevitably 
turn our eyes to the past. We look back in order to critically 
evaluate our legacy, contemplating about what was, what 
was not, what could have been or what should never happen. 
This could be a sentimental journey – and often it is – but not 
in our case, because we were blessed with a very diverse, 
sometimes very turbulent and dramatic past.

We look back at a colorful prism, a rich spectrum – a rain-
bow consisting of sun and rain. Today, there is no time for 
evaluation of what we have achieved. Today we want to 
celebrate and leave the evaluation to the future. But I 
inevitably ask myself one single question: “If you have to 
give a concise account of what you were trying to do in the 
last 25 years, what would you say ?” – My answer is: “We 
have tried to build bridges”. Bridges over “troubled waters” 
within our lives, trying to connect the positive islands inside 
us. Making bridges between people, whose souls are of very 
different origins and beliefs. Bridges are such a wonderful 
symbol of crossing to a new territory, symbol of meeting 
people from the “other side”. Constructing a bridge is 
traditionally always a cause for celebration. In this place 
I cannot omit to mention my feeling of deep sadness when 
I heard of the shameless and deliberate destruction of the 
famous bridge of Mostar during the Bosnian war.

We have decided to build bridges – bridges between people, 
countries, nations, continents and people of different ethnic 
origins. Finally, but probably essentially – we have tried to 
build bridges between ourselves and our audiences. This 
production, named “Arcimboldo 2000” represents such a 
crossing. It is a work on which many creative people of all 
3 companies of Nederlands Dans Theater take part - NDT I, 
NDT II, and NDT III. Although there is a clear division 
between the stage and the auditorium, the “entertainers” 
and the viewers are covered by one roof and share the same 
space for a while. This was the main message I wanted to 
convey to our audience.

In fact, this performance was created for our public. It is our
“present”, not only to the thousands of people who have 
shown an unbroken support for our art, but also for newcomers 
in order to take them on a trip of “initiation”. But, please note – 
bridges are built for someone, who must make the crossing by 
himself and of his free will...

This project bears the name of a charismatic artist, wizard, 
alchemist, and an entertainer at the royal courts of Vienna 
and Prague. He was originally engaged as portraitist, but 
soon his diverse talents and interests were discovered and 
his tasks and activities have changed accordingly. He became 
a “royal entertainer” on a grand scale. Being engaged at the 
royal court of Prague by Rudolf II, the Czech King and Roman 
Emperor – was certainly the right place for Arcimboldo. The 
surreal atmosphere of Prague under the rule of Rudolf was 
legendary. The King’s love for art, alchemy, astronomy, 
astrology and science was well known (and is very well 
documented). Accordingly – Prague has become an important 
cultural centre of Europe. It became a “greenhouse”, not only 
for art and science, but also for fraud, intrigue and decadence.

Arcimboldo must have felt very much at home in this 
atmosphere, so personally tinted by the (sometimes strange) 
personal taste of the Emperor. He became the master of 
ceremony. He was in charge of all royal festivities ordered 
by the king: banquets, tournaments, competitions, fireworks 
or water games – all devised for pure entertainment. As I 
mentioned before, our production is designed as a present 
to our public – it should be, and I hope it will be - 

Celebrating a jubilee (40 years of existence of NDT and my 
commitment to this company for 25 years) doesn’t mean only 
looking back but also looking at the future. In my eyes, this 
unique institution should not expand any further, but should 
always be a sensitive instrument registering even the smallest 
changes of people’s behavior, social structure and the 
inexplicable wanderings of human souls. These themes and 
many others should be sensitively portrayed through our art 
as a mirror of the passing of time. 

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is mystery – but today is a gift, 
that is why we call it “the present”.

Jiří Kylián