Wed., August 24, 2011: Meet 420People

420People will give three free, open air performances starting next Wednesday

Meet 420People

No, that’s not an order. No, we’re not having a party. And no, 420People is not a new competitor for Facebook.

It’s a contemporary dance company founded in 2007 by two top Czech dancers, Václav Kuneš and Nataša Novotná. Its lively, highly creative productions offer audiences all the fun of a party and all the young energy of Facebook.

Of course our first question for Mrs Novotná was “How did you get your name?”

She explained that since both of them had worked at the prestigious Netherlands Dans Theatre, their own new company was influenced by their experiences abroad. “When living abroad, one has the tendency to be just a little more aware of the place called ‘home’ – the place one has memories of and can compare the unknown with. So when we chose our name, we liked the idea of a number – used internationally – and the telephone prefix for the Czech Republic is +420.

“And I guess in order to do what we do well, we have to recognize the people involved.”

Their aim is to use the best of their previous experience to present contemporary dance to the Czech Republic, using Czech and foreign dancers for the Czech audience. So how, in her opinion, do Czech and Dutch audiences differ?

“In general, Dutch people aren’t so ‘fearful’ towards the arts. Artists are a part of their social environment, something natural. The Czech spectator somehow still fights with his own opinion: ‘What should I think about this?’ ‘Will I understand it?’ Nevertheless, slowly we’re building more and more of an audience open to just share the moment.”

She explains that every 420People performance is followed by an open discussion with the audience. “If an opinion is offered, we discuss it after the show.”

Czech audiences not afraid to share the moment will get a chance to do just that at 420People’s free performances at 5 pm August 31-September 2. The dancers will perform “Package” by Japanese choreographer Shusaku Takeuchi. The piece involves broad, energetic, sometimes intricate physical movement, and therefore requires the open air space of the plaza between the New Stage (Nová Scéna) and the National Theatre.

“Just like many other dance performances, ‘Package’ is somehow about motion,” Mrs Novotná says. “But, and luckily, not everything we encounter in life is possible to explain in words.”

Indeed. So the best way to describe “Package” is to watch excerpts from the upcoming performance, in the video clip below. And then see it for yourself and share the moment. – oo

– Mary Matz

About 420People:
Choreographer Václav Kuneš created the award-winning choreography for Small Hour, which earned the troupe a two-month tour of the Netherlands. Dancer Nataša Novotná earned the prestigious Czech title Dancer of the Year 2009 at the Tanec Praha Festival. The company tours abroad and has premiered work by international choreographers.

Photo Credits: All images: Pavel Hejný, except top photo, Shusaku Takeuchi

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