Petite Mort

  • Choreographer: Jiri Kylian
  • Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Costumes: Joke Visser
  • Lighting: Jiri Kylian
  • Set Design: Jiri Kylian
  • World Premiere: 1991, Salzburg Festival
  • PBT Performance Date: March 6-8, 2015; October 26-28, 2018; Also performed at University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Cyrus Northrop Memorial Auditorium, November 8, 2018

Program Notes

Jiří Kylián created this ballet especially for the Salzburg Festival on the second centenary of Mozart’s death. For his work he chose the slow parts of two of Mozart’s most beautiful and popular piano concertos.

“This deliberate choice should not be seen as a provocation or thoughtlessness — rather as my way to acknowledge the fact that I am living and working as part of a world where nothing is sacred, where brutality and arbitrariness are commonplace. It should convey the idea of two antique torsos, heads and limbs cut off — evidence of intended mutilation. This doesn’t destroy their beauty but reflects the spiritual power of their creator.”

The choreography includes six men, six women and six foils. The foils have the function to be actual dance partners and at times seem more unruly and obstinate than a partner of flesh and blood. They visualize a symbolism which is more present than a storyline. Aggression, sexuality, energy, silence, cultivated senselessness and vulnerability — they all play a significant part. Petite mort, literally meaning “small death,” serves as a paraphrase for orgasm in French and Arabic.

— Kylián Foundation