Czech Contemporary Dance after 2010

As far as choreography is concerned, contemporary dance scene is very varied and syncretic as the genre requires. The strands of dance and physical theatre have been significantly shaped recently. Czech dance has powerful performers and demonstrable success in these fields with theatre directors in the background, who are frequently attracted by the beauty and lexis of contemporary dance. Jiří Havelka, Jan Nebeský, Petra Tejnorová or J. A. Pitínský rank among several of them.

Lenka Vagnerová and her company’s production shows features of dance theatre. Vagnerová is a determined dancer, who followed the authorial career and strengthens her choreographic authority with every new piece. She oscillates between theatre and dance – or she skillfully grafts one world on the other in order to flourish better together. Her works are full of props, puppets, objects, fantastic expressive dance and actor’s performances. She narrates the story using situations with points and in The Lešany Crib (2017), she explicitly works with a storyline. The story and narration are not taboo for her as well as the way to work intelligibly and communicatively. Thanks to this, she was successful with her choreographies La Loba (2012), Gossip (2015) and her recent work Amazones (2017) are very successful as well.

The production of Viliam Dočolomanský and his Farm in the Cave (est. 2002) is distinctive and uncompromising in art. Farm in the Cave is typical for its long preparation, intensive research, which often takes place in various parts of the world and brings valuable theoretical findings as far as interpretation, actor’s expression and cultural anthropology are concerned. Every piece by the Farm is a treat for the Czech cultural scene as it always means a shift in the aesthetics of scenic images and their structure; it always immerses under the surface of social and individual conformity in productions like Sclavi (2006), Waiting Room (2006), The Theatre (2010), or the most recent productions of Disconnected (2015) or Together Forever (2017). Vilo Dočolomanský is a hunting dog galloping for the smell of social traumas, a spoilt aesthete, who does not want to conform to anything, which is not surprising and visually stimulating; he is an artistic exorcist and energy regulator, who is comfortable standing astride between theatre and dance. After the residence of several years, Farm in the Cave found the conveniences in the exclusive space of Centre for Contemporary Art DOX.

Miřenka Čechová is another distinctive talent on the Czech dance stage. She interprets dance and a body as a research instrument, as a physical and personal curiosity probing various worlds – both real and artistic, and she is willing to submerge to extreme discomfort or risk to gain experience. She managed to do that in Momentum (2017), the 25-hour open-air performance done together with Sabine Seume. Miřenka is a wonder, an artist in permanent work in progress, careless, intuitive and energetic extrovert. She is the author of the internationally acknowledged and successful performance solo of S/He is Nancy Joe (2012). The companies circulating around Miřenka – Tantehorse and Spitfire company – have achieved a strong position in Czech dance and theatre. Apart from Miřenka Čechová, success of the companies has been also formed by Petr Boháč, the artistic director of the Spitfire company, who has participated in the productions of One Step before the Fall (2011), Antiwords (2013), Cecilé da Costa’s solo The Narrator (2016) and Fragments of Love Images (2017).

A relatively new, but successful, name is Jana Burkiewiczová and her company Burkiewiczová drew attention with her choreography for the production of Walls and Handsbags performed by Losers, the contemporary circus company. Invention, stage effects, scenic aestheticism and interest in current human relationships and experience were successfully employed in the choreography The Wilds: The Vanity of Plumage (2015) and much better in the choreography The Bear Who Floated on an Ice Floe (2017). The asset in her work is a strong and understandable topic, which is not interpreted banally at all, sense of humor, the emphasis on details and perfectionism. Thanks to her job opportunities, Burkiewiczová is flying between the world of dance, design, she is able to skillfully process big events, shows and social events, which does not disturb her interest in more serious topics and purely artistic projects.

The line with more abstraction and the emphasis on a clearly identifiable physical language may be represented by the DOT504 company (est. 2006). It has referred to Wim Vandekeybus’s radical aesthetics. The core choreographers of the company are Jozef Fruček and Linda Kapetanea who are responsible for most choreographies in the repertoire, such as acknowledged production of Collective Loss of Memory (2014), which presents the analysis of the roots of brutality and sharply pointed disapproval of violence. One of current Fruček’s pieces for DOT504 is You Are Not the Only One Who Shal Live Long (2016). The importance of the company for the Czech dance stage lies in a lasting effort to maintain high quality of dance interpretation and artistic professionalism, which is the background where Lenka Vagnerová has gained experience.

Dance aesthetics of another significant independent company radically differs from those mentioned above. 420PEOPLE have totally different DNA as the founders are Nataša Novotná and Václav Kuneš, the former dancers of the Nederlands Dance Theatre, where they danced under Jiří Kylián. Their elite style helps them maintain elegance and a gentle touch of luxury, which is attractive for a wide range of audiences as they often use contemporary rock music. Their dance concerts with Please the Trees are extremely popular as well as the legendary open-air performance Package staged by Shusaku Takeuchi for 420PEOPLE (2013). The most recent Václav Kuneš’s choreography was Fairy Queen (2017), which combines the typical complexity and demands of a dance language with a strong emotional impact, which comes through the topic of missing somebody close and the intensity of live music.

VerTeDance has recently terminated its activities in Czech contemporary dance, yet it left a deep imprint with its varied repertoire and its own story. It won the prestigious Czech Dance Platform three times and its representatives – Tereza Ondrová, Veronika Knytlová and Karolína Hejnová – ranked among the strong creative and production epicenter for ten years. The smash hit and a touring sensation was their Correction (2014) directed by Jiří Havelka and accompanied by the unique music band Clarinet Factory. VerTeDance drew the attention of critics and audiences with their choreographies of Emigrantes (2010), Simulante Bande (2012) and others. It is still possible to see the successful choreography Flow (2016) and Let’s Dance (2017) with their label, yet the chapter of the creative unit of one VerTe generation can be considered closed.

Dekkadancers, the group of National Theatre dancers, have been trying to achieve independent authorial expression. Dekkadancers were first introduced in 2009 as the project of dancers with choreographic ambitions – Viktor Konvalinka, Tom Rychetská a photographer Pavel Hejný. The original group passed the baton to another generation in 2013 and the faces of the company nowadays are Šimon Pechar, Marek Svobodník and Ondřej Vinklát, whose ballet colleagues enthusiastically cooperate with them. It is virtually a unique situation when the members of the main ballet scene, who are extremely busy, find the capacity to create and perform. There have received positive reactions from the audiences and the full-length choreography The Last Supper (2017) has been acknowledged both by the general public and professionals.