Falling Angels (1989) by Jiri Kylian’s “Black and White Ballets”, The Nederlands Dans

A Masterful treat! This video shows the complete ballet of, Falling Angels, choreographed by Jiri Kylian and performed by the Nederlands dans Theatre. The music is by Steve Reich, Drumming part 1.

Steve Reich composed this score after he was inspired by observing ceremonial ritual music from Ghana (West Africa). The percussion music is an integral part of the ballet, Falling Angels, as the movement is intimately connected to and molded by the varying complex and syncopated rhythmic intensities in the score.

Kylian is a choreographer that is considered to be a Master of Aesthetics! And we see this no less in his ballet, Falling Angels. This piece is the last of a series of six works he created that are called his “Black and White” ballets from which he eliminated all color. All the Black and Whilte ballets have an overarching theme of sexuality that each represents in a different way.

Falling Angels is a complex and layered ballet that was choreogrphed in 1989. As Kylian has said the “piece is about our profession” which shows the female dancers’ unrelenting and single minded drive for perfection. But it also shows how this single minded drive succumbs in various stages to the human female psyche and events that sway them away from their “perfect” state, such as ambition, seduction, pregnancy, birth, death, motherhood and self-awareness. Thus the paradox of the title, Falling Angels, shows the decent of the dancers/women who are swayed and fall from the grace and pinnacle of “purity”, in dance and performance, from the constant impact of “intrusive” human conditions.

Falling Angels has also attracted much controversy regarding alternate meanings. This piece has also been considered to portray the role of women in the 20th century in Western culture, or to depict current cultural and social influences that still affect/shape women’s experience to having no deep meaning other than the beauty of movement and design in of itself.

The work Falling Angels is powerful, both in movement and imagery. It was choreographed for eight female dancers who make up ensemble sections from which dancers in solos and small groups break away from, only to reemerge.
The piece is shaped by surreal and minimal influences that we see in the pared down and efficient use of the movement language, the austere black leotards the dancers wear, and the stark minimal spaces defined by the lighting. The movement infuses classical lines with sharp percussive gestures and movements that give the piece an unpredictable dynamic. The movement patterns, choreographic elements and structure culminate into a powerfully visual austere beauty that is stunning.

The dancer’s precision is amazing. The piece begins in a calm composed atmosphere as the dancers emerge form the shadows walking quietly to their places then suddenly break into unexpected movement patterns with cutting intensity right to the end. It is beautifully performed. Another Kylian masterpiece!

Enjoy this wonderful piece by the Master of Aesthetics, Jiri Kylian, and SHARE it on!


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