Nederlans Dans Theater and Jirí Kylián are taking a break from each other. From September 2014 until fall 2017, the beloved contemporary ballet company will perform no works by the choreographer who put them on the map, according to dancelines.com. It's a surprise move that's shocked fans. But the decision wasn't made because of any bad blood—it's a strategy to force the company to innovate. As current artistic director Paul Lightfoot told Laura Cappelle in the February/March issue of Pointe, “It’s harder to look ahead with all our past now. At this point, NDT has a responsibility to its traditions. Jirí’s repertoire is symbolic for us, but he was fully aware that NDT shouldn’t be a house about one person.” Kylián proposed the idea to Lightfoot about a year ago as a way to give the company freedom to present new work by challenging them "to fill the empty space with something new."
It's a huge risk, but a fascinating one. Just think, what would New York City Ballet do if it was forced to take a Balanchine hiatus? What would The Royal Ballet present if they had to remove all traces of Ashton from their repertoire for the next three years? This might be a dangerous move on the part of NDT—or it might just be their greatest idea yet.