The festival Tanec Praha has been presenting the top world dance production for the past three decades. The main program is concentrated in Prague; however, other projects are presented in other towns as well.
In this sense, Tanec Praha is a decisive umbrella institution providing the contact of Czech audiences and the world of dance as local audiences do not have the opportunity to see a big dance company during the year.
Tanec Praha is a big organization today, but thirty years ago, it was the dream of Yvona Kreuzmannová, the optimist with the endurance of a marathon runner, who is seen as the synonym of the festival by many.
The chord of events
The first big dance company Kreuzmannová helped invite to Prague in 1988 was Nederlands Dans Theater 2. The then-immigrant Jiří Kylián created treasures of world choreography there. It was an immensely important event but as it was usual at that time, the event was not promoted much. Yet Kylián is going to open this year’s festival with all the trimmings: the Ponec Theatre is going to present his successful multimedia project East Shadow this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The piece was inspired by the world of the playwright Samuel Beckett and a natural disaster – the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan seven years ago.
Kylián’s work is extensive and has many levels. His recent works are made with the accent of absurdity, grotesque and existentialism.
The second tone of the chord in this year’s festival is represented by Korean choreographer Eun-Me Ahn, who works between tradition and modernity and tries to find topics and connections. Forum Karlín will see Dancing Grandmothers on 23rd and 24th June – the piece inspired by movement of Korean grandmothers. Eun-Me Ahn is going to put ten Korean seniors, who work with young professional dancers, on the stage. Dancing Grandmothers is the first part of the trilogy dedicated to the differences between generations – the second one is a choreography about middle-aged men, the third one deals with teenagers.
The last “chord” of the festival events is Sunny, the performance of Emanuel Gat from Israel and dancers of his company, who have contributed to the shape, topic, visual effects and the concept significantly.
It is a dance concert full of interactions, motives, sturdy energy and subtle moments. Full of life. Dance performances are linked to personal attitudes, dancers’ characters and the whole production is like a karmic meeting of ideas, inspirations, relationships and live music. All this can be seen in Forum Karlín on 25th June.
The chord of body and time
The 30th festival has the subtitle “the age has never mattered less”. The age is not as limiting as in ballet in the genre of contemporary dance presented by Tanec Praha. Some people has actively worked in the field for dozens of years.
How does a body, which has danced for fifty years, look like and feel? It is as majestic and daring as the body of Germaine Acogny, the seventy-four-year-old “mother of African dance”. She is going to perform on 7th June in À un endroit du début, in which she vividly narrates the history of her family – she is old and experienced enough and she has memories she can share. Or such a body looks like a miracle of organic technology – wiry, nimble, hypersensitive, anti-gravitational – it belongs to Louise Lecavalier from Canada, who danced with David Bowie and Frank Zappa. Lecavalier returns to Tanec Praha after several years to perform with Fréderic Tavernini in the duet So Blue on 20th June. Her body, which is almost 60 years old, has so much to say! A shy dancer has always had her body speak for her freely and with no censorship.
The audiences will be able to see mature dancers – Sabine Kupferberg and Gary Chryst – in Kylián’s choreography East Shadow, the one that establishes an ironic connection of passing of time and a natural disaster.
The proof of how Tanec Praha has helped the Czech dance grow in the past thirty yeas is the tree new Czech performances in this year’s program. It is Refuge by Viliam Dočolomanský and his Farm in the Cave. The production is based on interviews with young people, who “experienced a point of no return in their life”. The scenic composition of physical expression and live music will be staged in the new hall of the Centre for Contemporary Art DOX, its new venue, on 4th June.
The star of Czech motion theatre and pantomime Radim Vizváry together with choreographer and dancer Jiří Pokorný, who works in prestigious foreign companies NDT 1 or Akram Khan Company, were inspired by anxious emotional states. Sunday Neurosis is a production, in which expertise of both artists – pantomimic performance and contemporary dance – merge.
Belgian choreographer Karine Ponties has had long creative and friendly relations to Czech dance scene and Czech audiences know her fragile production very well. Ponties, who explores two distinctive personalities of Czech dance: dancer and choreographer Tereza Ondrová and director Petra Tejnorová, who find themselves on the stage – in the space of questions and searching.
Tanec Praha, the pivotal dance event of the year, offers much more. The structured profile features the program for children and families, it pays attention to students, it interviews artists in open discussions and intervenes public space with several projects. The month of dance has just started.