Sinfonietta “Sinfonietta” is perhaps the most spontaneous and “Innocent” work of mine - this is not by aim, but because of the extremely limited time and conditions in which it was created. The company was “floating” at that time and had no definite plans even for the nearest future. There was unrest among the dancers and I had very little experience to deal with the situation. At that time I was 31 years of age. During this time I received a telephone call from Joseph Wishy, (The director of the Charleston Festival at that time, in the summer of 1978), who had asked me whether I had ever heard of the composer named Leoš Janáček? I answered, that I knew him since my studies at the Conservatoire in Prague (I started studying there in September of 1962) and that I always wanted to create a choreography to the music of his glorious “Sinfonietta”, but that I never had the courage to use this music, as the task seemed to me to be filled with such an enormous responsibility. But I felt that I knew Janáček’s music inside out (I have forced my pour friends to listen to this music over and over again). At that time, NDT was not well organized institution and Carel Birnie, the founding administrative director of the company advised me not to accept the offer to choreograph this work for the Charleston Festival, because he knew, that the production time, which was at our disposal, was extremely limited. Tickled by a sense of adventure and feeling that the time was right, I didn’t listen to the advise and I said “yes”.
Walter Nobbe, the costume and decor designer of “Sinfonietta”, held my hand when I took the decision, in order to demonstrate his support. Sold to the devil - now we had to make it. Rehearsing whilst on tour in Israel, asking de dancers to work overtime and myself making impossible hours, we made it. And the result certainly reflects the spontaneity and spirit in which it was created, conditioned by the lack of time and the feeling of having to perform an impossible “balancing act”. But, by any account, the effect it had on the people who saw it first was quite remarkable. The audience which was present at the premiere in Charleston USA in the summer of 1978, was unable hear the last “Fanfare” of the music, because they already stood on top of their chairs, cheering and throwing the program books into the air. This was the moment that totally changed NDT. “Sinfonietta” - this work in which simplicity is one of its major characteristics, has torn the company out of depression and obscurity. It became a “Cornerstone” of the repertoire of the “Nederlands Dans Theater”, opening endless new possibilities for the company's future. Jiří Kylián