Torso

Many people inhabiting this Planet are forced by various circum-
stances to leave the country in which they were born. The reasons 
for people to leave their native land or to be forced to do so, might 
be as diverse as the entire humanity. But no matter what the reasons 
are, this fact will always have a decisive influence on anybody 
effected. Such “transplantation” can be caused by famine, war, 
social or ethnic upheavals, economic situations,natural disasters, 
religious, sexual or personal persecution and so on... 
The reasons are endless... Our work “Torso” has much to do with 
this phenomenon called “emigration”. 

And as I am an emigrant myself, I felt a very deep need to make 
such a work. I have tried to portray a situation of two emigrants, 
who had to leave their native country in order to start a “new life” 
in their “new homeland”. In the process, they find themselves in a 
transit room. They are in no man’s land.They are no longer in the 
possession of their old passports and they don’t have their new 
documents yet. They are mentally and emotionally not yet able to 
leave the country in which they were born, and they are not yet 
able to make the crossing to the new country. They are traumatized.
Consequently, all they are able to do in this hopeless moment of 
their life, is to compress all their emotions, wishes, hopes and 
frustrations into this small space called “transit room”.  The two 
protagonists in our work, feel not only the unbearable pressure 
within themselves, but the pressure of the entire situation caused 
by all the unfortunate circumstances. And all problems are always 
magnified under pressure. In this claustrophobic situation, there is 
only one way to create space - by explosion. And such “explosions” 
are devastating as we experience them....
But this is only partly true. Their potential beneficial  effects should 
not be underestimated. Such cataclysmic events in our lives might 
also have some purifying side effects. They might  supply us with 
a certain kind of a positive resilience, or ultimately give us a more 
critical appreciation view of life...


	
	
Creating this piece was as difficult as the theme itself. The studio 
became the “transit room” and the company (NDT) of which I 
became director only 3 months before, was supposed to become 
our new “promised land”. In fact it was anything but a calm place. 
The board of NDT was at war with the charismatic and contro-
versial managing director Carel Birnie, and Carel was at war with 
me. Many of the dancers were not at all convinced that I was the 
right person to lead them to new and prosperous pastures... 
In fact the entire situation was like being in a “pressure cooker” 
in which I felt like a suspect piece of meat imported cheaply 
from a communist country, which could be easily overcooked..!
Choosing my partner Sabine as one of the protagonists of “Torso” 
did not help. In fact it didn’t go too well with the rest of the company.  
But I have learned, that there is nothing worse then unrealistic 
expectations. The work was successful and it played a significant 
part in the establishment of my role as director, which I did my 
best to play for the next 24 years. 
The creation of “Torso” made it clear to everybody, that individual 
or even personal statements had as legitimate place within the 
new artistic policy of NDT, as works which showed the entire 
company in all its talent and potential...
Last, but not least: maybe it is good to realize that often we are 
emigrants within our own body, unable to master the controversy 
within ourselves - not being able to put an end to the war between 
“me and myself...” and in fact we always live in a "transit room"..!

Jiří Kylián, Den Haag, July 6, 2012