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Birth-Day

Nederlands Dans Theatre & Jiri Kylian

Year: 2004
Code: AH-Birthday

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Birth-Day was inspired, in part, by Sabine Kupferberg, who is one of the performers, as well as Kylián's wife. The music is by Mozart, and the dancers wear period costumes and wigs.

The premise is that this is Sabine's birthday, but for Kylián, there is a dark side to this: another birthday means another year closer to death. Birth-day, then, is unavoidably a piece about ageing and mortality, although it also is a very funny work, as it presents episodes with which any person, regardless of his or her age, can identify. The dancers perform in real time, sometimes in a kind of duet with a film of them in the background. The film also becomes the foreground in several episodes.

A frantic Charlie Chaplin-ish effect was created by having the dancers perform to slowed-down versions of the music, and then returning the music (and the film) to a normal speed. There's an endearingly naughty bed scene for two of the dancers, and another in which two more dancers prepare a birthday cake and become rather abusive. Another episode, set to Mozart's Symphony #33, gives a whole new meaning to "fan dance." 

Birth-day is haunting, charming, and often laugh-out-loud funny, and so it is a great introduction to Kylián's work.

Other performances in this series:
Bella Figura
Sleepless

Choreographer: JIŘÍ KYLIÁN

"Kylián's distinctive style – acrobatic, abstract, always surprising – runs through all three works. The range of the Nederlands Dans Theater also is on display here. The films are beautifully photographed, and the sound is excellent too." (Raymond Tuttle, Classical.net)

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