Petite Mort

Dancers Angelina Sansone & Geoffrey Kropp. Photographer Steve Wilson.
Dancers: Emily Mistretta & Lamin Pereira dos Santos. Photography: Ali Fleming.

Choreography: Jirí Kylián
Music: Mozart
Costume Design: Joke Vissar
Lighting Design: Jirí Kylián (concept) Joop Cabbort (realization)
Staged by Elke Schepers

Petite Mort is a poetic, and strangely significant way of describing the ecstasy of a sexual intercourse. In French, and in some other languages, this sensation is described as “little death.” And it may be so, that in the moment of pleasure (or in the moment of potentially creating a new life) we are reminded of the fact that our lives are of a relatively short duration, and that death is never too far from us. In my work, I have based my choreography on two slow movements from the two most famous piano concertos by Mozart. I have cut them away from the fast movements, leaving them as mutilated torsos, lying helplessly in front of the listener and beholder. They lie there, just like some ancient torsos, without arms and legs, unable to walk or embrace. There is no doubt, that it is perverse to do such a thing. But yet we do. And I am no exception. We live in a world in which nothing is sacred. Since the time in which Mozart’s music was created, and today, many wars were fought and much blood had to flow under the “Bridge of Time.” And, it was mostly men swaying swords in show of their potency and power. And it is always a “Mort,” which accompanies our lives, sometimes it is “Petite,” sometimes it is “Grand,” but it is the most faithful companion we have, from the dawn of our existence till the end.

–Jirí Kylián –  Den Haag  September 23, 2007

Ballet premiere: August 23, 1991, Kleines Festspielhaus, Salzburger Festspiele, Austria, Nederlands Dans Theater I

Kansas City Ballet premiere: April 6, 2018
Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City, Missouri

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