Jirí Kylián was born in Prague in 1947 and started his dance training when he was nine years old at the ballet school of the Prague National Theatre. From the age of fifteen he studied at the Prague Conservatory.
In 1967 Kylián went to the Royal Ballet School in London with a scholarship of the British Council. Here he came into contact with the most important developments in choreography - ballet as well as contemporary dance. Consequently, John Cranko, a major choreographer of this period and director of the Stuttgart Ballet, offered him a dancer's contract and encouraged Kylián's ambition to create his own dance works.
In 1973 - following his first choreography for Nederlands Dans Theater - an artistic relationship between Kylián and the well-known Dutch company began, which has brought about the creation of almost 50 dance productions for this group.
Since the mid eighties Kylián's artistic view and style have moved considerably towards abstraction and surrealistic images - examples begin with his 'Black and White Program', with works such as No More Play, Petite Mort, Sarabande, Falling Angels, Sweet Dreams, Whereabouts Unknown - or his dance production reflecting on a Japanese fairy tale entitled Kaguyahime.
Having created a unique and very personal style over the years - Kylián's choreographies defy academic categorization blending elements of many sources. There are always new inspirations to be explored, new challenges and boundaries to be overcome. Profoundly based on musical reading - there is something in his work deeply penetrating into the mystery of the human being itself, unveiling hidden traces through his dance.
For 20 years now, Kylián's artistic vision has blended with the image of Nederlands Dans Theater into a unique symbiosis. Today, the world famous 'Main Group' (NDT 1) is complemented by a young, experimental company of 17 - 22 year old dancers (NDT 2) and a group of mature dancers/performing artists past the age of 40 (NDT 3) - each of which has its own repertoire reflecting the specific qualities of a certain life-time. Together, they constitute the organization called Nederlands Dans Theater: 'Three dimensions of a dancer's life' - as Jiri Kylian likes to refer to them.
In April 1995 NDT celebrated its 35th anniversary and Kylián's 20 years of artistic directorship with the big theatrical production "Arcimboldo" in which NDT-1, NDT-2 and NDT-3 participated. On April 13th Jirí Kylián was honored with the Dutch "Orde van Oranje Nassau" by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands for his complete choreographical work and his contribution to Dutch dance.