Czech artist honoured by the french Académie des Beaux-Arts

Jiří Kylián. Source: FB Jiří Kylián.

Jiří Kylián. Source: FB Jiří Kylián.

On 13 March 2019, Jiří Kylián, a world-renowned choreographer, was inaugurated in the Académie des Beaux-Arts in the Coupole of the Palais de l’Institut de France in Paris, in participation of several hundreds of prominent figures from around the world.

Based on Kylián’s outstanding oeuvre, the Académie has created a new section – choreography. The Académie française is a renowned institution with its inherent Académie des Beaux-Arts (Academy of Beautiful Arts) founded in 1816. To become member of this Académie practically means to become “immortal”.

To be elected as foreigner associate member of the Académie, so called ‘membre associé étranger’, is a unique honour which only a few non-French personalities in field of performing and fine arts can boast. One of them was the musician of Czech origin Antonín Rejcha, who was installed in the Académie in 1835 (Antoin Reicha, 1770-1836). This Prague native was the director of the Paris Conservatory and mentor of such famous artists as Hector Berlioz, Franz Liszt, César Franck of Charles Gounod.

Another highly honoured Czech in the history of the Académie française was Václav Brožík in 1896. He was an art historian and painter belonging to the ‘Generation of the National Theatre’, and professor of the Imperial Academy in Prague, working concurrently in Paris where he died in 1901.

On 25 April 2018, the Académie des Beaux-Arts elected third Czech academician in the history of the institution. The proposal of Kylián‘s installation was approved by the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs. On Wednesday 13 March 2019, Jiří Kylián was inaugurated in Paris.

Jiří Kylián graduated from the Prague Dance Conservatory. He obtained scholarship at the Royal Ballet School in London, where he met one of the key figure in his life, John Cranko, who offered him a contract with his Stuttgart Ballett. In 1975 he accepted the offer to become Co-Artistic Director of the Nederlands Dans Theatre in The Haag. In 1978, after an unprecedented success of his ballet Sinfonetta, Kylián was appointed Artistic Director of NDT. The Symphony of Psalms, his second major work of this period, gave the company international fame and reputation. Jiří Kylián retired from his position of Artistic Director in 1999, but stayed connected to the company as residential choreographer.

Since the early 1970’s, Kylián has created nearly one hundred choreographies, three quarters of which for NDT. He is a holder of many awards, including Nijinsky Prize, awarded in Monte Carlo, and the French Legion of Honour. We must point out that the Prague Academy of Performing Arts has awarded him the title of Doktor honoris causa. Though Jiří Kylián spent most of his professional life outside the Czech Republic, he spreads the reputation of his home country all over the world and likes to remember the people who had decisive impact on his career. Two Czech artists ignited his passion for dance – Zora Šemberová and František Pokorný. “Zora Šemberová inspired me emotionally, “says Kylián and adds: “She had decisive influence on my work and the candid dance expression. František Pokorný helped me intellectually, he was my mentor and awakened a true interest in choreography in me.”

“Up to now, the membership of the Académie des Beaux Arts included seven categories: Architecture, Cinema and Photography, Engraving, Musical Composition, Sculpture and Category of Unattached (Free) Members. On 25 April 2018, when I was elected member of the Académie, choreography became new section. I am thrilled and hope other members of our gilt feel the same,” explains Jiří Kylián and says: “You would surely like to know that the only predecessors from our profession, who became members of this institution, were Marcel Marceau and Maurice Béjart. They were admitted to the section of Free Members, as the section of choreography did not exist at that time. I profoundly admire both of them.”

Source: Tanec Praha z.ú.

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