Maurice Béjart in Memoriam

Dear Philippe,

As I am not really sure who to write to, about the death of Maurice, 
and about my feelings concerning this incredible loss, so I write 
to you, Philippe, because I know, that you stood so close to him for 
so many years. But, I can only write about what Maurice meant to me, 
from a personal point of view:
In my eyes, Maurice didn't represent only the art of dance and choreography. 
He understood what dance can do, on much larger scale.

He made sure, that dance will become a permanent and inevitable facet 
of our cultural landscape. He made sure, that dance will be elevated 
from its stigma, of being the art form, which only tells fairy tails 
for children, and be given a place in our lives, as something, that 
we should be proud of.

He knew, that dance is not only the most personal, but also the 
oldest art form, human beings have ever created. On more personal 
basis: My first encounter with Béjart was, when I was a student at 
the conservatoire in Prague. It was probably in 1964, and I was about 
17 years of age. At this time, Czechoslovakia was under a strict 
communist regime, and totally cut off from the western world.

At this time, an 8 mm film has arrived at the school. It was a film 
with the choreography of Maurice Béjart, entitled "Symphony pour un 
homme seul". On the film, Maurice performed himself. The experience 
of seeing this film, had a profound influence on me. But it was only 
about 35 years later, (when I invited Maurice to create a new work 
for NDT III), that he revealed to me, that he hated not only his
performance in it, but the film itself.

But no matter, what Béjart felt about this film, the truth is, 
that seeing it was fascinating. For me this film became, a window of 
freedom, and a window of imagination and opportunity. This window 
might have been only 8 mm small, but if you put your eye and your 
heart very close to it, a view of an endless landscape of beauty, 
ugliness and doubt, and a landscape of never  ending richness, 
inspiration and fantasy will be revealed to you.

Maurice Béjart  was a non conformist. He could never be, as he 
was a free spirit, looking for confrontation with the established 
way of thinking of the society, and embracing many cultures and 
religions. He was someone who tried to speak to all of us: To the 
dancers, and to the disabled, to the people of all races, and to 
people from all walks of life, the privileged and the deprived. 
That is why I have loved him, and will continue loving him.

I am very sad and very happy at the same time, and I know, 
that you will understand, Philippe...

sincerely, Jiří Kylián

  Den Haag  November 2007