Rückkehr Ins Fremde Land / Return to a Strange Land

This work is directly linked to the tragic and dramatic death of 
John Cranko, and it is dedicated to him. It was in the summer 
of 1973 - on a flight from the USA back to our “home” Stuttgart, 
after a very successful tour, when John fell seriously ill. 
We were supposed to make a landing at the Shannon Airport 
in Ireland (the obligatory stop in order to refuel the aircraft) 
but the weather was extremely bad, so that the airplane had 
to be diverted to Dublin. This “Diversion” took only half an hour,
but this half hour also “Diverted” John Cranko’s fortune…. 
He died in the ambulance on the way from the airfield to the 
hospital in Dublin on the 26th of June 1973….  There is much 
for which I should thank him…. He was very generous in giving 
me the opportunity to pursue my choreographic ambitions. 
He made time and space available for us to create. But the 
most wonderful fact was, that he enjoyed discussing all kinds 
of new developments in art with us, important or unimportant, 
and in this way he gave us the opportunity to have memorable 
fights with him about it all….But all this arguing had nothing to 
do with winning or losing - much more it was an important 
learning process.

And I have learned and learned….
Here is one of my dearest memories of Cranko - In fact it
is a very simple sentence which he said in a documentary 
dedicated to his “boss”, Walter Erich Schäfer, the “Intendant” 
of the “Württemberg State Theatre” at that time. They entered 
a rehearsal studio in which I have rehearsed my first 
choreography “Kommen und Gehen”. 
	
	
Herr Schäfer asked John Cranko:
“ Do you think that Kylián will become a new Cranko? ”

and Cranko answered:
” No, I hope that he will become Kylián…. ”

The work is dedicated to him, his legacy and his memory. 
Inevitably, the title “Return to a Strange Land” has a 
transcendental meaning. But there were many more images 
on my mind at the time of its creation. One of them was 
the simple fact that many of us leave the place of our origin, 
and when we return back to it years later, we only find a 
“Strange Land”, a place which we knew before but do not 
recognise any more. But the very original idea of this work 
lies in our understanding, that human beings are created by 
a set of circumstances, conditions and coincidences, which 
are very much beyond our control….! Our body consists of an 
endless number of particles, whose origin we will never know 
or understand, because they were collected - God knows 
where, and God knows by whom - in order to become “Us”…. 
We live for a while, and then we fall apart in order to re-enter 
this “Strange Land” from which we came….All the particles 
we consist of will go back to the “land” which should be 
familiar to us…. only - we do not recognise it because we 
never consciously knew it….

        							Jiří Kylián