Un Ballo

Un Ballo is the first piece I created for NDT II, the junior company of 
Nederlands Dans Theater. It is an exercise in musicality, partnership 
complex emotional content. However, the compositions by Maurice Ravel, 
which I chose for this work, were written on the theme of death. 
The first part of the choreography uses “Le Tombeau de Couperin”, 
the second the “Pavane pour une infante défunte”. Ravel dedicated his 
“Pavane” to a young Spanish princess who died in the XVIIth century, 
and each movement of “Le Tombeau de Couperin” is dedicated to 
someone specific who died in the First World War. My visual source 
of inspiration were Diego Velásquez’ portraits of the ‘infantes’, 
the children of the Spanish royal family, among whom many died in 
their young age. In the vulnerable faces of the children, painted in 
great detail and with great affection, we can see premature sadness. 
Some kind of presentment of death. Their elaborate costumes are 
often executed with fleeting and almost nervous brushstrokes. To see 
life and death presented so close to each other was shocking as well 
as inspiring for me. 

There is nothing tragic in “Un Ballo”, as there is nothing tragic about 
death. The fact that we all will die, is the only thing we can be sure of. 
Everything else is uncertain. When we are born we receive a birth 
certificate. If we turn it around it becomes a death warrant.

Jiří Kylián 
The Hague, April 2018