Dance and aging 

Age: Imagine that before you are born, the clock of your life 
is wound up. In the moment you leave your mother's womb, 
the mechanism of the clock is released, and the time starts 
ticking. That is the beginning of your incredible adventure 
called life, but also the beginning of your end. You will 
inevitably start the process of aging, and it will be happening 
even while you are reading these lines…

Throughout our history we have developed a system of 
numbers counting the years which have elapsed since our 
birth. These numbers keep increasing as we are drifting 
away from the moment we were born, but at the same time 
they are decreasing as we are nearing the end of our journey. 
Finally all numbers will be added and subtracted so that we 
can die when we reach the age of zero. It frightens us and 
supplies us with plenty of uncertainty and confusion. But we 
should never forget the invaluable experience this process 
has bestowed on us. It has much more to do with the quality 
of our life than our longevity.


Dance: The moment we see the light of day for the very first time, 
we move and wriggle out of control..! We don't understand anything, 
because we are in total shock. And of course we don't realize that 
we are performing the "Dance of life" and the "Totentanz" in the 
same moment. Every movement we make is dance, and as life is 
movement, so inevitably dance is life. As we mature, our dance 
becomes ever more significant and profound - even if our fate is 
not very kind to us.

I have dedicated much of my life to this art. I have started to dance 
at the age of 9, and ever since then I wanted to choreograph - and I 
did - for many years to come. 

I was the artistic director of the Netherlands Dance Theatre between 
1975 and 1999. And throughout these years I was very conscious of 
the dancer's short lived career, and their vulnerability caused by it. 
That is why I founded a small company for young and inexperienced 
dancers in 1978 called NDT II, and in 1991 I added another company, 
NDT III, designed specifically for dancers "between forty and death".

I also realize that as I am writing these lines on Friday November 26, 
2021, I am 27,279 days old, but by the time you will read these lines 
I will have moved on..!

There is an infinite amount of riddles thrown into our paths, which we 
cannot decipher, comprehend or explain. But there are three, which 
fascinate me. Time, Speed and Aging. They keep asking me difficult 
questions and when I return them, no answers ever come back..!

Much of my work is focused on this “trinity” and some of my titles give 
it away: "Return to the strange land”, “As if never been”, “Half past”, 
"Birth - Day", "When time takes time", "Far too close", "A way a lone", 
"Vanishing twin"...

But there are also a few things I understand quite well: Everyone of us 
can dance at any moment of his life, and the longer he does, the better. 
The terms "Young" and "Old" are only street signs helping us navigate 
through our life, but they are notoriously vague and certainly unable to 
determine the state of our being. There is one saying: “Age is a matter 
of mind, but if you don't mind it doesn't matter”. This might sound to 
you like an amusing play on words, but sometimes a short aphorism 
brings the essence of a long article closer to our heart. 

Writers and readers always meet in different times, different situations 
and places, and every one of them is of different age. But there is one 
thing we all have in common: Our journey through life could improve 
with time like a good wine maturing with age.

                    Jiří Kylián - The Hague - November 26, 2021