Petite Mort

  • Choreographer: Jiri Kylian
  • Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • World Premiere: 1991, Salzburg Festival
  • PBT Performance Date: March, 2015. 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 b

ut 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