Return to the Strange Land

Jiří Kylián

On the sudden death of the choreographer and director John Cranko, in the summer of 1973, the former director of the Stuttgart Ballet asked me to create a ballet in his memory. I made a pas de trois on the music of Leos Janàcek, namely the last part of his sonata for piano October the 1st, 1905. In 1975, I used this as the final piece of Return to the Strange Land. The title is a contradiction. How can you return to a land where you have never been before? This ballet is about death and reincarnation: desappearance, reappearance, death and rebirth were its main sources of inspiration. Although the physical existence endes, the particles reappear in a different shape. These particles "know" the "unknown land".

  • Wolrd premiere by: the Stuttgart Ballet at Württembergisch Staatstheater, Stuttgart (Germany), May 17 1975
  • Premiere by Compañía Nacional de Danza: at Teatro Albéniz, Madrid (Spain), April 5th 1991
Return – portada

They are part of you until they return to the strange land. This is one of my first works. The role of classical elements and patterns is more pronounced than in my later works. A highly important starting point was the emotion existing inside the body. Dresses are reduced to a minimum. This ballet is made upof a pas de trois. They imply slow reincarnation processes. At the end , the sensation is created that something abstract has taken life from inside the bodies. The return, full of yearning for the past, takes us to an apparently well-known place, to an unknown presence. Can it be the premonition of death?. For a long time I had felt the urge to do something with Janácek’s piano music. It seemed to me that this assignment was the ideal opportunity. As a rule, I work the other way round. Normally, the idea springs forth from the music. The ballet starts with the first part of the sonata for piano October the 1st, 1905 . This is followed by the mazurka from Overgrown Path and the first part of In the Mist, to end with the last part of the piano sonata. His music is at all times rooted in people and their emotions, which explains its close resemblance to popular songs.

Jirí Kylián


  • Choregraphy:
    Jiří Kylián
  • Music:
    Leos Janácek (1858-1924). Sonate 1.X.1905, “On an Overgrown Path” and “In the Mist”
  • Staging:
    Arlette van Boven and Jim Vincent
  • Costume Design:
    Jiří Kylián
  • Lighting Design:
    Joop Caboort
  • Running time:
    20' 13''
  • Premiere cast CND:
    Mª Luisa Ramos, Daniel Alonso, José Manuel Armas (Paso a tres); Eva López Crevillén, Ricardo Franco (Paso a dos); Mª Luisa Ramos, José Manuel Armas (Paso a dos); Eva López Crevillén, José Antonio Beguiristain, Ricardo Franco (Paso a tres)