Project Description


 Jiří Kylián (CZ/NL): East Shadow

In 2013, Aichi Triennale from Japan addressed artists with two topics: Samuel Beckett and helping the victims of the 2011 tsunami. Jiří Kylián has been an admirer of Beckett’s absurd world since his youth. Add to that the shocking element that returns us to the simplest things in life, putting us before the question of life and death, transferred onto the stage, then film and live performance. Kylián addressed two of his favourite dancers, a mature couple, and a Japanese pianist living in the Netherlands. In the spirit of existential vanity and tragicomic absurdity, it carries us on the waves of nostalgia, poetry and impressive paintings, and we wish it never ended.

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Creative team

Choreography and overall concept: Jiří Kylián
Performers: Sabine Kupferberg, Gary Chryst
Assistant to the choreographer, video and soundscape: Jason Akira Somma
Executive Producers: Kylián Productions BV (NL) and Aichi Triennale 2013 (JP)
Main Producers: Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Monaco Dance Forum (MC), Korzo Productions (NL)
Co-producers: Rolex (JP), Tomoko Mukaiyama Foundation (NL), Athens Epidaurus Festival (GR)
Music: Franz Schubert’s piano sonata D959 Andantino, Tomoko Mukaiyama, ‘’Beginning’’ (2013) and ‘’East Shadow’’ (2013, inspired by Charlemagne Palestine and Somei Sato)
Texts: Samuel Beckett’s Neither
Text spoken by Jiří Kylián and Olivier Kruithof
Film: Jason Akira Somma
Artistic Assistant/Stage Manager: Patrick Marin
Costume design: Joke Visser, Hermien Hollander (realization)
Set design: Jiří Kylián
Technical Production and light design: Loes Schakenbos
Technical supervision (lights/set): Xavier van Wersch
Make-up & Wardrobe: Sara Meerman
Project Manager: Carmen Thomas

Further information

Duration 45 min.
World Première: September 14, 2013, Nagoya – Japan for Aichi Triennale 2013

Special thanks

logo kylian productionsSpecial thanks to the co-producer of the performances at TANEC PRAHA 2018 Festival: Kylián Productions BV.

Jiří Kylián says about his work

East Shadow premiered in 2013 as part of the Aichi Triennale in Nagoya, Japan. This festival was dedicated to the victims of the tsunami that devastated part of the east coast of Japan in 2011. The bulk of the proceeds of these shows were used to support the victims of this devastating natural disaster.
Our performance East Shadow consists of three components:
1) live performance of two older dancers;
2) a film, whose protagonists are two people standing on a stage; the film is an album of their lives;
3) live, all-unifying piano accompaniment.

The merging of film and live performance is, of course, nothing new, especially when the same people are present both on the stage and in the film. That does not seem overly complicated. This is true, because it is as simple and self-evident as the coexistence of life and death. Interestingly, the people on the screen always remain the same age, while the two figures live on stage are getting older every second, just like the audience watching the performance.

In our performance, the presence of this “big wave” is actually just a metaphor of the many dangers that accompany us over much of our lives. There’s really no dancing here; East Shadow is more of a movement drama without words, drawing on the profound experiences of both protagonists – Sabine Kupferberg and Gary Chryst. They allow us to look into their happy-unhappy tragicomic coexistence. Both of these performers were long-time members of the NDT III, a group of dancers between the ages of 40 and death that I founded in 1990. The text I used in this performance was written by Samuel Beckett specifically for an opera by composer Morton Feldman aptly entitled “Neither”.

Our performance involves an absurd text, the absurd existence of two aging and endangered individuals, and a thrilling stream of partly improvised and partly composed music. The composer and musician is Tomoko Mukayama.

Moments of happiness, disappointment, catastrophe or banality… nothing lasts…. everything is just one endless transformation, carried away by the infinite giant wave of time…. nobody knows where…”


Jiří Kylián (CZ/NL)

Jiří Kylián is for dance globally what Miloš Forman is for film. An iconic personality whose first foreign engagement at the John Cranko’s  Stuttgart Ballet was in 1968. In 1975, he was appointed as the artistic director of NDT (Nederlands Dans Theater) and took the ensemble to the very top, creating space for all generations (NDT2 for young talents and NDT3 for mature personalities), giving up his role in 1999 and staying on for 10 more years as an associate choreographer. He has created 74 works for NDT and hundreds of works over this lifetime. It is hard to believe that he celebrated his 70th birthday last year, fascinated by all kinds of art and their synthesis. This is strongly reflected in his most recent works, including East Shadow.