Charlotte Ballet’s performance of Jirí Kylián’s Forgotten Land.
It’s no surprise that Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux’s biggest inspiration is George Balanchine. But there’s another choreographer who has also deeply influenced him: Jiří Kylián.
At the Chautauqua Dance Circle “Views on Pointe” lecture at 3:30 p.m. today in the Hall of Christ, the artistic director of Chautauqua Institution’s dance program will present a lecture to show audience members why Kylián is thought of as a “master dance maker.”
Kylián was born in Prague in 1947 and received his dance training from the Prague Conservatory and the Royal Ballet School in London. He joined the Stuttgart Ballet in 1968 and later became the artistic director of the Nederlands Dans Theater in 1976.
Bonnefoux first came into contact with Kylián in the 1980s when he took a sabbatical ßleave from teaching at Indiana University to travel as a guest teacher. He said he was interested in Kylián because of his unique style and the spontaneity of his work.
“I think what’s really exceptional is the way he knows how to have people relate to each other,” Bonnefoux said. “He really knows how to link the movement, like the music is linked, one note to the next.”
The relationship Kylián has with his dancers also influenced the way Bonnefoux teaches his students both in Charlotte, North Carolina, and in Chautauqua.
“There is a sort of love and compassion for his dancers that is really wonderful,” Bonnefoux said. “So you get that feeling of collaboration between the choreographer and dancer, which is not very usual in ballet.”
Kylián was also the first choreographer to create a second company for younger dancers and later a third company for dancers over 40.
“He was really interested in the life-span of a dancer,” Bonnefoux said.
Bonnefoux described the second company as the beginning stages in a dancer’s career — the transition between student and professional. It is something he has brought into his own work at the Charlotte Ballet and at the School of Dance in Chautauqua.
“Here in Chautauqua, I want the dancers to perform even when they are students because I knew because of Kylián that young dancers are talented and they really have a lot to offer,” he said.
He also said Kylián’s work speaks to dancers.
“When you have dancers who are really open to different styles and really want to know what it is about that style that’s when you get the best dancers. And when you show that, that’s when you get the best audience,” he said.
It has always been a dream for Bonnefoux to do one of Kylián’s ballets. In 2013, that dream came to fruition when the Charlotte Ballet performed Kylián’s Forgotten Land. The company will perform it again next October, but it cannot be performed in Chautauqua because of the set and scenery the ballet requires.
During the CDC lecture, Bonnefoux will present videos of Kylián’s work, including the Charlotte Ballet’s performance of Forgotten Land along with two other videos.
Bonnefoux wants to expand the audience’s understanding of dance with a balance of new works, masterworks from prominent choreographers and classic works.
“What I love about being in Chautauqua is that people are really curious and they don’t want to see the same thing over and over again,” he said.