Friday, December 16, 2011: You Take a Cloud

(From left) Jiří Kylián, Nataša Novotná, Václav Kuneš watch a dancer take a cloud

Other Side of the Curtain: What Really Goes On Before the Curtain Goes Up?

Jiří Kylián and Making a Dance:
It’s Like You Take a Cloud

Nataša Novotná, executive director of the 420People dance group, perches on the edge of a sofa at The New Stage Café. She’s just come from a long Workshop session with 21 young student dancers. They’ve gathered from professional dance schools and conservatories for extra training here, and the possible chance to meet an international icon of ballet, Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián.

Barbora from Hrádec Králové is one of the students. At home she participates in a dance group and physical theatre group;in Prague she studies contemporary dance and new movement. She says the Workshop is teaching her “things I already knew, but I had understood them more … intellectually. Now I do them with my body, too.”

The students are working on fragments of dances which professional dancers will perform in Different Shores, the upcoming, gala one-night-only performance the following Wednesday. Featuring dancers who had worked previously with Mr Kylián at the famed Nederlands Dans Theatre (NDT), the gala will honor his lifetime achievements as a dancer and choreographer, especially his contributions to NDT. His biography, also called Different Shores, will be launched at the gala. The evening is also celebrating the 20th year of the Kylián Videotheque in Prague, the complete video collection of Mr Kylián’s works, at the Arts and Theatre Institute in Prague.

In the meantime, Mrs Novotná and 420People’s artistic director Václav Kuneš have been working hard to organize the student Workshop, train the professional dancers for their own performance, and arrange the details of the gala evening to be held at The New Stage. Mrs Novotná is also running the student Workshop which is spread across two weekends.

Nataša Novotná

She’s worried about how the five-day break in between will affect the students’ learning curve.

But, she tells Opus Osm, “They’ve made nice progress over the two weekends; they did their homework. The Kylián choreographies are now on YouTube, so they can watch and learn. They learn quickly and come back working well. The quality is good,” she says, obviously relieved and pleased at their success.

While the students are working on fragments of Different Shores, the professional dancers are rehearsing the entire program, selections from Anonymous; Bella Figura; Amoroso; Duet from the Ballet 27:52; Urtanz; and Neonate. In between there will be video projections of some of Mr Kylián’s works, and a live actor, David Prachař, from The National Theatre.

It’s the gala performance; a critic, obviously an actor, strides on stage and speaks about Mr Kylián’s work. You don’t have to understand the Czech language to see that this effete ‘critic’ enjoys posturing with effect – and neither likes nor understands the choreographer’s work which he is criticizing.