Bangarra: 30 years of sixty five thousand

Jiří Kylián on Stamping Ground: 30 years of sixty five thousand

... this was one of the highest awards I have ever received in my entire career.

Czech born choreographer Jiří Kylián has created over 100 works. Many of these have been presented by more than 80 companies worldwide. Here he reflects on the experience of a gathering he attended on Groote Eylandt in 1980, where a thousand Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, women and children shared their stories and dances and traditional culture with him.

It might sound strangely conceited, but I was actually the initiator of this gathering. With the help of my friends we were able to convince many institutions to contribute to this momentous event.

But, the leaders of the different Aboriginal cultural groups wanted to know who I was before giving their approval. One day some of them gathered on Groote Eylandt to watch a video of my work. After the viewing they left without saying a single word. The next day they came back with the verdict: “He is a good dreamer.”

Needless to say, this was one of the highest awards I have ever received in my entire career.

It is interesting to know that I was not the only stranger at that gathering, but the different Aboriginal groups were strangers to themselves. Their cultural backgrounds, rituals and languages were different. But what truly united them, was dance.

This experience taught me essential things about the immense diversity and endless possibilities of human physical, mental and spiritual expression.

Jiří Kylián

    • Choreography
      Jiří Kylián