Balkan Project Dear friends, It makes me very proud and very happy to be asked to participate in such a fine project. I am Czech by birth (*1947 in Prague), but I have spent exactly two thirds of my life in the western part of Europe: England, Germany and the Netherlands. Consequently, I am very aware of the political (and cultural) divisions of Europe in the time of the cold war. I knew how painful it was for the people of the “Eastern Europe” not to be able to communicate with the people from the “west” . I was the artistic director of Nederlands Dans Theater for 24 years (1975-1999). In all those years, we have travelled many times around the world. We have visited many countries with very controversial political systems (South Africa – in the time of apartheid, Czechoslovakia in 1980, Greece under the dictatorship and many more). We did so, because we have believed that, whenever the politicians are not able to talk with one another, it is up to the artists to do so. Dance is not only the oldest art form of human beings, (older than music, literature or painting...), but it is also the most personal one.
And because of its very personal character, and because of its ability to communicate without the use of language, dance is the finest ambassador, able to bring people of the most diverse origins and cultural or religious backgrounds together. The wars of the past are over, but the wounds are not healed yet. What we want to bring to you, is a small window, or a bridge. So that we all start understanding, that you don’t live only in your world, and I don’t live only in mine, but that we all live in “our world”. Jiří Kylián The Hague, April 1st, 2007