Friday, January 6, 2012:Miniatures Nouveau

Magda Matějková

The New Miniatures Arrive!

Like Beaujolais Nouveau – or Christmas carp – some things arrive on a special day only once a year. If you miss them, they’re gone and can’t be called back again.

This Tuesday you have the chance to catch such an event, but only Jan 10 at 7 pm.

It’s the National Theatre Ballet’s Miniatures, short but highly imaginative choreographies created by the ensemble’s young dancers themselves.

Now in its 10th year, Miniatures is becoming as certain a Czech tradition as carp at Christmas, with all the robust character and imaginative sparkle of a rambunctious, fine new wine.

Last year’s production, for example, showed what the young dancers could invent using just three children’s balloons – which then became a tsunami of balloons; another short dance proved how sensual – and just plain fun – it could be to watch dancers move within a stageful of bubblewrap. But the props weren’t mere gimmicks; the dancers-turned-choreographers’ designs proved their knowledge, experience, insight, and imagination.

Magda Matějková, Alexandre Katsapov in Los Sueňos, one of the dances in Miniatures

Indeed, “I consider these works an important aspect of the ballet ensemble’s work,” explains National Theatre Ballet artistic director Petr Zuska. A dancer and choreographer himself, he emphasizes that Miniatures gives the young dancers a stimulus and challenge to try choreography, or for those who have already started to work with the subject, to develop their talents and skills further.

Creating and performing their choreographies teaches them additional skills, he says: “They learn to formulate their particular inspiration and imagination. They learn to communicate with the dancers, and to lead them to an artistic-technical routine in the final stages when the piece achieves its shape.”

Mr Zuska admits that Miniatures also benefits him, “because I’m learning too.” The work helps him identify many members of the ensemble in greater depth, to discover their potential, and to see them in a new genre which is not normally evident during presentation of the regular repertoire.

But it’s not only ballet insiders who are rewarded with Miniatures. The audience has always been enthusiastic about what they see, he notes. And a few dancers have already created high-quality opuses, some of them destined for an even wider audience, as part of official bids for foreign tours featuring short works.

Miniatures provides a rare opportunity for the public to watch potential rising stars of dance and choreography creating on their own terms. But you have to look quick – the evening will soon be over, and then you’ll have to wait another whole year. — oo

Miniatures is at the Theatre of the Estates, 7 pm Tues, Jan 10.

– Mary Matz

Photo Credits: Pavel Hejný

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