Last Touch First
  
The whole scene is like a microcosm of a watch.
There is the “heart of the watch” the “pace maker”.
There is the device, which changes the ‘’pendulum-like 
movement’’ to a “circular movement”.
There are the wheels, which slow down or speed up the 
restless heart of the clock.
There are the precious stones which ensure the smooth 
movement of the mechanism – the best oil is used to 
ensure that friction is reduced to a minimum.
Finally – this very complicated clockwork is reduced to 
three hands which move in three different speeds 
(hours, minutes and seconds).
This magnificent mechanism was designed by people to 
ensure that we are not too late or too early – but also to 
give us some kind of a ‘’false’’ understanding of time.
Time can never be measured in absolute terms – as well 
as space can never be understood objectively.
People have designed devices which measure time and 
distance in order to make the time and space in which we 
move as individuals, more understandable and acceptable. 
“Last Touch First” has become a project, which only 
makes comments on the four greatest mysteries with 
which we, people are confronted since the beginning 
of our very existence:

The question of time

The question of space

The question of love

The question of death 
  	
The basic idea for this work is very simple. It comes from 
looking at relatively old photographs. Photographs, made
at the time when the great Russian writer A.P. Chekhov 
lived (1860 - 1904). At that time, the presence of a 
photographer was something very unusual. Whenever a 
photographer would turn up in a small town or even a 
village, everyone felt that something vey extraordinary 
was about to happen…. Consequently, everybody would
put on his very best “Sunday Clothes” and took up a pose, 
in which he or she wanted to be photographed and 
remembered  for the generations to come….But, nobody 
has asked any questions about the fate of the people being 
portrayed - nobody cared about the persons fate before
this photograph was taken, or whatever happened to them 
afterwards… This photograph, this “Slice of Time” became 
the starting point of our “Slow Motion” study….

We have the wish, that in our so unbelievably hectic time – 
it is possible to create tension by moving extremely slowly 
and creating an unpredictable tension, which some people 
might perceive as being much too fast. The reason why we 
feel this, is quite simple: we look at certain things on the 
stage, become fascinated by them, only to realize that 
other events happen simultaneously and because of our 
singular concentration, they totally escape our attention…. 
Because of this, we feel constantly, that the time is slipping 
through our fingers – every time we think that we can 
actually hold it.

Jiří Kylián – Den Haag, November 2010

Last Touch First, Letter to the Dancers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
Dear Michael, Sabine, Cora, Paula, David and Vaclav,.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
This piece, which we are working on, is about six lonely 
people, whose only way to find a sense of togetherness 
is through a contact with other lonely people. This is a 
very strange paradox, and I try to understand this 
concept myself, as I totally feel as a member of the 
pack. Now, after we have learned ‘’Last Touch’’ and have 
started to work on its extension, my feeling is, that we 
have established an interesting point of departure. It is 
very fascinating for me to work with you – people, whose 
lives have been touched by turbulence, confusion or 
frustration, but also by a feeling of togetherness, be-
longing and compassion. I cannot stress more that in our 
work, it will be your understanding of the total importance 
of the most unimportant things, which will make this piece 
interesting and valuable! This idea is the most natural one 
but also the most perverse. But, without it, nothing can 
ever happen in the further development of our piece. 
When we look at the world of Chekhov, it is not at all 
different from the world we live in. Or rather, it is com-
pletely different but whatever we feel is exactly the same! 
And it will be so, as long as the crazy human race exists.                                                                                 
  	
I totally understand, that somebody (Chekhov) has written
some 100 years ago that ‘’life is worth nothing’’ and that it 
matters to no one, if we live or not – but just the fact that 
he wrote that, and decided to leave it to be read in the 
future is a very strange paradox. Back to our ‘’Last Touch 
First’’: already the title suggests something paradoxical. 
Something that has to do with the confusion of time order 
and our understanding thereof.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  	
The fact that we are dressed in historic costumes seems 
anachronistic and unnatural, but in my eyes it stresses 
the intention of what we are doing. It underlines the 
confusion of time, memory and order… It is a symbol of 
our confused identity and I really feel that our identity is 
totally confused when we take into consideration all the 
‘’bombardment of information’’ which lands on our heads 
every day of our life. This ”bombardment’’ from the outside 
of our ‘body and mind’ as well as the ‘’bombardment’’ from 
the inside of our body should play an important role in our 
‘’work in progress’’. Chekhov knew very well that he wrote 
works for his contemporaries as well as for the future 
generations, and as well as for all those who died long 
before. In fact, his work could have been written at 
anytime… The themes of the characters in all his plays 
are incredibly simple in all their complexity: they ask the 
same questions, which we ask ourselves and which 
generations after us will ask: Why am I here, how do I 
spend the time given to me, how long is it anyway, what 
do I expect to receive from life, and what is it, that I 
wish to be remembered for ….? All these questions are 
very simple and yet they represent the deepest doubts 
about our very existence. 
  	
  	
It is so funny: If we are given a role, which is a portrait of
an actor, who cannot act, still we want to be remembered 
as a ‘’very good actor, who acted the role of an actor, 
who couldn’t act’’… Back to the work, which we try to 
create: Should a critic, who is able to use his own brain, 
write about our work, that what he saw was the most 
‘’worthless worthwhile work’’ he had ever seen, I would kiss 
his feet.
  	
For what we are trying to do, my questions are:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

How do we demonstrate that we present the most 
‘’worthless worthwhile’’ work?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
How do we make clear that while our lips desperately 
try to speak gold, our guts are full of shit?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
How do we bring tragicomedy into the piece? Childish 
humour is great, only if it weighs heavy at the end.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                
Well, let us talk and let us listen to each other. Dialogues 
are usually described as ‘’two people talking to one another’’, 
but hardly ever as two people listening to each other.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
In the development of our piece, it became apparent that 
there should be no message or conclusion, which would 
send the audience comfortably home to sleep in their beds.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
I really think that all we present should be consciously 
subconscious and always left unfinished. Everything in 
this work should be of ‘’introspective nature’’. Compassion, 
cruelty, love, or visions of perversion, aggression or 
ugliness: all these things are inside us – sometimes asleep, 
sometimes awake. Possibly, showing all this in ‘’slow motion’’ 
could relate to the timelessness of this subject, and to its 
ever present property. Maybe this should be accompanied 
by a very short text by Chekhov, representing the nonsense 
and uselessness of life…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Well, very very much love to you all – many thanks and 
much luck in developing our work further, to all of us.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
With much love, shit and nothing (and please, let us not 
forget the ‘’black humour’’!), 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
Jiří Kylián - Den Haag, September 21, 2007