The sword 

With my inauguration as a new member of the Académie des 
Beaux Arts on the 13th of March 2019 a new section will be 
created: Choreography. This makes me obviously extremely 
proud, because the art of dance has been a grossly neglected 
art form for a considerable time. 

At the inauguration every new member is presented with 
a sword, symbolizing his profession. It is a symbol for 
“defending your art - if necessary with a sword in your 
hand”. But how to make a sword that symbolizes the art 
of dance and choreography..? 

It was not an easy task. After contemplating many different 
possibilities, I came across an image of a beautiful small 
statue of a female dancer. This statue, which looks like it 
was created by Matisse or Picasso, is in fact a work of art 
created 5,500 years ago in Egypt. This statuette is from the 
pre-dynastic period. It is much older than the pyramids and 
the hieroglyphics, which means that nothing is known about 
her. The only obvious fact is, that she is a dancer. She is 
also known as the "Bird lady", because instead of a head she 
has a beak, and her arms resemble wings. Eventually the copy 
of this statue became the handle of the sword.

The meaning and significance of this occasion is, that the 
art of choreography is elevated to a new level. That is why 
I decided that this "Bird lady" should stand on wings, taking 
her to new adventures. 

And here is a small tragi-comical anecdote connected to this: 
I have telephoned a man who has a large collection of stuffed 
animals and asked him if he had a pair of small bird wings, which 
could be scanned and recreated in metal. As he was explaining 
to me, that unfortunately he didn't have anything which I could 
use, a dead bird fell from the sky, and landed right in front of my 
feet..?! I took this bird, a small finch, to this man. He prepared 
them with love and care so that these wings could be "immortalized" 
as part of my sword. 
Another difficult task was to obtain a perfect 3D digital scan of 
the ancient Egyptian sculpture. I have found out that she "lives" 
now in the Brooklyn Museum in New York. I have asked a very 
talented photographer Jason Akira Somma, whose mentor I was a 
few years ago, to try to organize the scanning. By strange coincidence 
the space in which the "Bird lady" enchanted thousands of viewers for 
many years, had to be restored, and the "Bird lady" had to be removed 
from public view. Jason took this opportunity and scanned her in 
a "Chambre séparée".

Having obtained the most essential parts of the handle of the sward, 
I needed to find a black smith to make it. Two friends, graphic 
designer René de Haan and painter Ilja Walraven, were instrumental 
in finding the very best black smith in the Netherlands to actually 
physically make it. His name is Dave Wijngaarden from Alkmaar.

None of this could ever be realized without a totally dedicated 
and tireless support of Carmen Thomas, the director of the Kylián