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ALL-TOO HUMAN CONDITION : Life's Harsh Realities Sometimes Dance Into Nederlands' Offerings

October 20, 1994|CHRIS PASLES | Chris Pasles covers classical music and dance for The Times Orange County Edition

"Kaguyahime" is an ancient Japanese legend that tells the story of a beautiful moon child who comes to Earth and through her matchless beauty unintentionally wreaks havoc here. For choreographer Jiri Kylian, director of the Nederlands Dans Theater, the story is "almost like Shakespeare."

"It is a fascinating story of someone who wants to give love and peace and instead seeds hatred and wars," he says. "That's what (human beings) are about. We keep doing this over and over again--Yugoslavia, Haiti, all over the place. We will repeat that way. Human beings don't have an ability to improve."

In its first West Coast appearance in 14 years, NDT will dance Kylian's full-length version of "Kaguyahime," as well as some of his shorter works. The engagement runs Tuesday through Oct. 30 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

One of Europe's most influential choreographers, Kylian is known in this country mostly through other companies dancing his works, because the costs of bringing NDT abroad are often prohibitive. At the center alone, American Ballet Theatre danced his "Sinfonietta" (to the familiar Janacek score) in 1991, the Australian Ballet danced "Return to the Strange Land" (music by Janacek) in 1990 and the San Francisco Ballet danced "Forgotten Land" (Britten) in 1989.

Born in Prague in 1947, Kylian fled from his native Czechoslovakia in 1968, literally on the last train out after the collapse of the "Prague Spring" of Alexander Dubcek. He found sanctuary in Stuttgart, Germany, with John Cranko's Stuttgart Ballet, where he began choreographing, then later moved to Holland.

With his emigre background, it is not surprising that a concern for the human situation surfaces in his work. But he insists: "I am not a political choreographer. I don't believe politics should be conveyed through dance. Other media in art convey that much clearer and better. Dance should remain dance. Music is about music. Dance is about dance."

Still, when the opportunity presents itself, the choreographer does allow his pessimism about the human race to surface.

Among the repertory pieces, "No More Play," for instance, was inspired by "a tiny sculpture by Giacometti that looks like a little board game (that) no one knows how to play. Yes, like life, exactly!

"That's what it means to me. We come to life. We only assume as we make our moves that we understand the rules. We finish our life. By the last sigh, maybe we have understood something. It is a very abstract work. This is what it means to me."

This work and others on the mixed repertory programs are characteristic of his latest concerns. Over the last few years, he says, "I started making works that are very Spartan--stark, very little costuming, very little color. In fact, I went back to the essentials: music, dance, light and space, which is very complicated. All (of the essentials) are very complicated.

"But it's actually only dealing with the essential things you need. All the unnecessary things were chucked out. I refer to those works as like those children's drawings which give you the outlines and you fill in the coloring. I call my (new) ballets 'coloring books.' I expect the public to put in their own colors. I give them basically the outlines.

"I'm talking about their understanding, their emotional coloring. In that way, I expect a lot of active participation of the audience. The audience here is used to that (but) I really wonder how the Orange County audience will react. I'm very optimistic. We're coming with full vigor."



What: The Nederlands Dans Theater in works by Jiri Kylian.

When: "Kaguyahime" on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 25 and 26, and Oct. 27 at 8 p.m. Shorter repertory ("No More Play," "Sarabande," "Petite Mort," "Whereabouts Unknown" and "Falling Angels") on Oct. 28 and 29 at 8 p.m. and on Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.

Where: The Orange County Performing Arts Center, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa.

Whereabouts: San Diego (405) Freeway to Bristol Street exit north, then turn right on Town Center Drive.

Wherewithal: $18 to $55.

Where to call: (714) 556-2787.



The group will play Haydn's Quartet in G, Opus 77, No. 1; Bartok's Quartet No. 4 and Debussy's Quartet in G Minor today, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m. at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. Sponsored by the Laguna Chamber Music Society and the Orange County Philharmonic Society. (714) 854-4646.


The venerable boys' group will sing works by Purcell, Schubert, Mozart and other composers on Friday, Oct. 21, at 8 p.m. at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The program is sponsored by the Philharmonic Society. (714) 553-2422.


Esa-Pekka Salonen will conduct the orchestra in music by Prokofiev, Sibelius and Carlos Rodriguez on Sunday, Oct. 23, at 3 p.m. at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Julian Rachlin will be soloist. The program is sponsored by the Philharmonic Society. (714) 553-2422.

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