Posts Tagged ‘Jiri Kylian’


A Visual Glossary for WINGS OF WAX & DYAD 1929

March 11, 2016

By Jessica Maria MacFarlane

It already feels like spring in Houston, but we’ve just begun our second half of the 2015-2016 Season following a wonderful run of Ben Stevenson’s The Sleeping Beauty! This month we welcome our Winter Mixed Repertory running March 10 – 20 at the Wortham Theater. This is an especially exciting program featuring three ballets which are Houston Ballet premieres, as well as one esteemed choreographer making his Houston Ballet debut. Today, we will discuss Jirí Kylián’s Wings of Wax and Wayne McGregor’s Dyad 1929. This visual glossary for Wings of Wax  and Dyad 1929 will help to familiarize you with these works.

 Wings of Wax and Dyad 1929 are both contemporary works created by living European choreographers from two different generations. Kylián was born in Prague in 1947 and McGregor was born in Stockport, England in 1970. Below are some extra facts and visuals to guide you through these two distinct contemporary ballets.


“Every teacher will tell you that you cannot dance classical technique with perfection, there is no such thing, there is no way. So you have to adapt the technique to your abilities or to your deficiencies. Learn to cheat!” Jirí Kylián.

Jirí Kylián grew up in post-war Czechoslovakia. His first love of movement emerged from the circus. He trained in acrobatics as a young boy, Graham technique later, then ballet at The School of the National Ballet Prague. The esteemed choreographers of Stuttgart Ballet, John Cranko and Glen Tetley, closely mentored Kylián during the ’60s and ’70s. Later, Kylián found a permanent home at Nederlands Dans Theater (NDT), creating various works and founding new divisions for the students and company of NDT from 1973 to now (he officially left NDT in 2009). During his time at NDT, he also worked closely with our former Resident Choreographer, Christopher Bruce. In all, Kylián has created 98 ballets across the world and continues to work in contemporary ballet. To date, Houston Ballet has performed 8 of his iconic works; Wings of Wax is our 9th Kylián ballet, lovingly staged by former NDT dancer and répétiteur, Brigitte Martin.


Christopher Bruce with Jirí Kylián

 Jirí Kylián’s Wings of Wax

Though it’s not a direct retelling of the Greek myth about Icarus and Daedalus, Kylián was deeply inspired by it. You can see certain movement motifs and set creations which relate to the myth, though there aren’t any direct characters or narration. Here’s a section from the main source about this myth, Ovid’s The Metamorphosis:

“His nearness to the devouring sun softened the fragrant wax that held the wings: and the wax melted: he flailed with bare arms, but losing his oar-like wings, could not ride the air. Even as his mouth was crying his father’s name, it vanished into the dark blue sea, the Icarian Sea, called after him.” Bk VIII:183-235 Daedalus and Icarus. Ovid, The Metamorphosis. 8 AD.

EZ7A0965 B Martin with HB

Brigitte Martin at Dress Rehearsal with Artists of Houston Ballet. Jirí Kylián’s Wings of Wax. Photography by Amitava Sarkar. Houston Ballet. 2016

Before coming to Houston to set this work, Brigitte Martin also sent over some visual inspiration for the cast of Wings of Wax. Below are two iconic paintings depicting the moment after Icarus has flown too close to the sun:


“Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” c.1555 (oil on canvas) by Bruegel, Pieter the Elder (c.1525-69); 73.5×112 cm; Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels, Belgium; ( Icarus seen with his legs thrashing in the sea;); Giraudon; Flemish. Icarus & Daedalus inspiration for Jirí Kylián’s Wings of Wax



“The Fall of Icarus” Joos de Momper. 1564. Icarus & Daedalus inspiration for Jirí Kylián’s Wings of Wax

Along with Kylián’s fluid, melting choreography, the costume (Joke Visser), set, and lighting designs (Michael Simon) for this ballet are one of a kind. A giant aged-tree is suspended upside down from the middle of the stage, while a single revolving spotlight circles the tree, casting shadows upon the moving dancers below. Under the lighting re-design and technical supervision of Kees Tjebbes, the entire work truly comes alive on stage at the Wortham with these dramatic elements.

EZ7A0427 Artists of HB

Artists of Houston Ballet. Jirí Kylián’s Wings of Wax. Photography by Amitava Sarkar. Houston Ballet. 2016.


EZ7A0790 Gonzalez and Kosakowski

Rhys Kosakowski and Karina Gonzalez of Houston Ballet. Jirí Kylián’s Wings of Wax. Photography by Amitava Sarkar. Houston Ballet. 2016.



“I have always been fascinated with the body from the outside, the language of the body and creation.” Choreographer Wayne McGregor at the Royal Opera House in London. For Arts. Photo by Linda Nylind. 6/10/2009.

Although his background isn’t in classical ballet, Wayne McGregor is a celebrated and cerebral contemporary ballet choreographer. He’s the resident choreographer for Royal Ballet and recently opened a new building for his collaborative center called Studio Wayne McGregor, which houses his company. He doesn’t limit himself to one dance form, though. In recent years he’s worked on dance sequence for films, such as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire–and will work on the upcoming film, Fantastical Beasts and Where to Find Them–music videos for Radiohead, Beck, and The Chemical Brothers, as well as presenting during June 2012’s TEDGlobal conference. This is Houston Ballet’s first ballet by McGregor; only a few American companies have had the chance to perform his exciting ballets.

Wayne McGregor’s Dyad 1929

EZ7A0230 McGregor with HB

Wayne McGregor with Artists of Houston Ballet. Wayne McGregor’s Dyad 1929. Photography by Amitava Sarkar. Houston Ballet. 2016

A previous work titled Dyad 1909 was the first part of this diptych. It was created for the Wayne McGregor Company in 2009 at the Sadler’s Wells Theater in London to celebrate the innovative features and mindset of the great Ballets Russes, which existed from 1909 to 1929–hence, these two titles. It was this time period that sparked McGregor’s choreographic intentions. With both Dyad 1909 and Dyad 1929 he set out to create a plotless work which encompasses modern-day scientific, social, and technological innovation much like Sergei Diaghilev did with the Ballets Russes.


Cover for, “Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes 1909-1929” from 2015. Ballets Russes. Inspiration for Wayne McGregor’s Dyad 1929.

Additionally, during this time period there was a fascination with the exploration of the Antarctic. Along with intriguing costumes by Mortiz Junge, a blazing lighting design and clean dot-infested stage space designed by McGregor and Lucy Carter, Dyad 1929 lightly mimics the breath-taking Antarctic sunsets and solar eclipses as well as images of Antarctica from space. The explorative dance creations by modern dance choreographer Merce Cunningham (1919-2009) was also a major influence and both works are dedicated to his memory.


Antarctica from space via Antarctica inspiration for Wayne McGregor’s Dyad 1929.Inspiration for Wayne McGregor’s Dyad 1929.



Merce Cunningham in Antic Meet (1958), with décor and costumes by Robert Rauschenberg. Photo by Richard Rutledge.

EZ7A9900 Artists of HB

Artists of Houston Ballet. Wayne McGregor’s Dyad 1929. Photography by Amitava Sarkar. Houston Ballet. 2016.


EZ7A9672 Gomez and Casady

Monica Gomez and Ian Casady of Houston Ballet. Wayne McGregor’s Dyad 1929. Photography by Amitava Sarkar. Houston Ballet. 2016.


Join us next time on ‘En Pointe with Houston Ballet’ for posts about our Academy Spring Showcase in April and our Spring Mixed Repertory program featuring George Balanchine’s Serenade in May! Tickets for the Winter Mixed Repertory are on sell now by phone or online at with performances running until Sunday March 20.

Watch a preview of Houston Ballet’s 2016 Winter Mixed Repertory Program:

Jessica Maria MacFarlane is the PR/Marketing Archival Intern for Houston Ballet and writes about dance in Houston for Arts & Culture Texas while passionately researching dance and literature in her spare time.



Recap from Joyce Theater Tour

October 24, 2011

Guest writer: Soloist Nao Kusuzaki

In New York, concrete jungle where dreams are made, oh
There’s nothing you can’t do, now you’re in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you, let’s hear it for New York
New York, New York
-Empire State of Mind, Jay-Z

Melody Mennite at the Joyce
Principal dancer Melody Mennite at the Joyce.
Photo by Jessica Collado.

With an Empire State of mind, we arrived in New York. It was Houston Ballet’s return to the city after a 26 year break.  We had seven shows to be performed at the Joyce Theater.

 The program of Falling Angels, ONE/end/ONE, and Hush fit magically well in the intimate, 472 seat, art-deco theater. Personally, it was a joy to find my friend who drove down from Boston in the second row cheering me on. In the dressing room post-performance, dancers shared who they saw out there and the true, up-close reaction they witnessed as the show progressed.

View photos from the tour here.

This tour to NYC was a transcendental one, and it may be my imagination, but I sensed unusually strong curiosity from New Yorkers.  It was beautifully balanced with Houston patrons, friends, and families who took the time to visit the Joyce for this occasion.

Stanton also reminded us of the significance in his “chookas” card (a note he always writes to the company on opening night):

We are the first company to perform Kylian’s Falling Angels in Manhattan. Last time, the original Netherlands Dance Theater performed it at B.A.M in Brooklyn.  And the other two pieces, ONE/end/ONE and Hushare tailor-made to Houston Ballet personalities. This program is uniquely us…

The house was filled each night, and the response was extremely positive…minus a few critics, though strong opinions aren’t necessarily bad, in my opinion.  Through experiencing the audience on stage, I sensed it exceeded their Tex-pectations.

The Joyce staff was impressed with the quality and the consistency of our performances–a huge compliment.  And there is something very special about the Joyce.  After practically living there for a week, I’ve decided it was the lively staff.  They seemed thrilled to be working there and seeing us perform. Even though they’re exposed to dance companies from around the globe–over 270 companies since its inception in 1982–they welcomed us like their family.  The stage manager, Sharonica, was the first connection I made.  Not only was she more than excited to see the show, but she was always available.  Her response was “I can help you with that” followed by a huge smile.  As the days went on, I felt the same attitude from all. It was obvious they were proud to be working there.  After all, the Joyce was created by dancers for dance, and over the years it’s become one of the premiere venues for the art form.

I was charmed to find the Joyce was formerly the Elgin Theater, a 1941 movie house. It was then closed by the community when this revival movie house became a pornographic movie theater. The architect, Hardy Hugh, rescued the place, and after a two year renovation it became the Joyce we know today.

Now we’re back in Houston, tougher and more inspired.  We are in preparation for The Nutcracker and Jubilee of Dance. I’m especially looking forward to seeing this evolving group of artists in motion this holiday season.

Keeping in mind the Empire State of Mind, I go back to plié.



Off to the Joyce!

October 12, 2011

Houston Ballet at The Joyce Theater

Houston Ballet is currently performing for the first time at The Joyce Theater in New York from October 11-16. What will the lucky New York audiences get to see? Jorma Elo’s innovative ONE/end/ONE, Christopher Bruce’s Hush and Jiří Kylián’s Falling Angels. ONE/end/ONE and Hush were both created on Houston Ballet dancers and Falling Angels, set to Steve Reich Drumming, showcases the incredible talent of the women of Houston Ballet. It’s truly a must see. If you’ve had the opportunity to see these fantastic ballets, you know New York is in for a real treat!

And while there’s nothing like seeing Houston Ballet on stage, here are some clips that offer a little taste of the pieces on tour: Hush, ONE/end/ONE and Falling Angels.



Don’t Miss Houston Ballet at The Woodlands Pavilion

October 2, 2009

Houston Ballet will be performing a mixed repertory program titled Swan Lake + Two at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on Friday, October 9 at 8 PM.  The program will be comprised of Act II from Stanton Welch’s Swan Lake, Nacho Duato’s Jardi Tancat, and Jiří Kylián’s Falling Angels.

Pre-concert activities will begin at 7 PM.  Orchestra seating is $15, and free mezzanine and general admission lawn seating is available. To purchase tickets or for more details, visit the Pavilion’s website.

Grab a blanket and come out to support Houston Ballet in The Woodlands!


Sneak peak of Masters of Movement

March 12, 2009

 We’ve posted three dress rehearsal video clips on our YouTube site from our program Masters of Movement (which opens today!), if you’d like a sneak peak:

William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude

Antony Tudor’s The Leaves are Fading

Jirí Kylián’s Soldiers’ Mass

Also, if you’re interested, here is some press about the ballets:

Radio interview with Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner about staging The Leaves are Fading for Houston Ballet on KUHF.

Some articles on Antony Tudor in the Washington Post and Dance Magazine.

Hopefully this will give you some context on what we’re working on at Houston Ballet. We hope you’ll join us for this thrilling triple-bill program, running through March 22.  It’s particularly special for us, since all three works are new to our repertoire.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 145 other followers