Thursday, May 17, 2012: Gala X

Opus Osm

Wearing a devilish grin, Petr Zuska angelically accepts the audience applause, with dancers from his 'Bolero.'

Gala X: Junior Dancers Meet Professionals in Zuska’s Retrospective

The “Gala with Youth” dance performance May 10 and 12 at The Theatre of the Estates brought together today’s experienced National Theatre dancers with tomorrow’s potential stars, all performing a handful of pieces by masterful choreographer Petr Zuska.

It was part of Mr Zuska’s retrospective Petr Zuska Gala X marking his tenth anniversary as artistic director and choreographer for the National Theatre Ballet. The first of six different sets of his dances was presented on those evenings. Performances continue through mid-June.

We were curious to see just what this particular evening would entail, since the Czech publicity about the event used only the word “meet” to describe the encounter between the professional dancers and dancers from the Bohemia Ballet, the junior company of the City of Prague Dance Conservatory.

And the English website didn’t divulge specifically what the word “meet” meant, either. Was the performance specifically for student dancers? Would there be chats and autographs over champagne and caviar for everyone afterwards? Would it be a “Dancing with the Stars” variation in which the students would compete against the professionals?

We just had to go and investigate for ourselves.

What we found was an entirely successful and satisfying evening of dance performed not only by National Theatre and other dancers, but also by guest Kristýna Peštová of the JK Tyl Ballet Theatre, Pilsen and more than a dozen Conservatory students, in a combined cast.

Opus Osm

Petr Zuska

Dancers from all three groups opened the evening with Mr Zuska’s Rose, set to music by the evergreen Czech group The Spiritual Quintet. A young boy presents a young girl with roses, which she repeatedly drops, and then she runs away. Mr Zuska explains that the music and his choreography symbolize those mixed-up emotions of young teenagers learning about relationships.

Déjá Vu is an entertaining piece in which Edita Raušerová and Karel Audy further explore relationships, ending up by dancing in each other’s clothes, all the way down to her toe shoes and his brogues.

Way Out in British English means “the exit,” and can also mean the way to avoid an uncomfortable dilemma. Perennial award-winning Mr Zuska says he also uses this title to describe the way to begin a journey from that which is safe and comfortable, into the unknown. Here, Alexandre Katsapov slowly removes his comfortable business suit, piece by piece, ultimately making an exit wearing no clothing at all; he leaves his empty suit, still in his body shape, on the chair. A nice touch: he gestures to it as his co-star when he takes his bow.

Empty Title presents the choreographer’s dilemma, choosing the easy, familiar, popular way or their more difficult opposites, in directing dancers Rebecca King and Adam Zvonař in their art.

The final piece, Bolero, uses nearly the full cast to dance to this rhythmic, strident Ravel composition which could easily overpower a choreographer’s vision. But Ondřej Kinklát presents us with a giant die in a game of chance and a commentary on good versus evil, black versus white, and a mixture of it all.

These titles won’t be repeated in Gala X, but you still can see the following:

Bláznoviny – A Little Extreme, A Little Touch of the Last Extreme, Mariin Sen, May 17, 18, 19;
Solo Pro P.Z. — Brel – Vysockij – Kryl/Solo pro Tři, May 26, 27, 28;
Cesty a Zastavení – Ways 03, Les Bras De Mer, Smrt a Dívka, June 7, 8, 9;
Pocta Velkým Tonům – 1. Symfonie D-dur, D.M.J. 1953-1977, Svěcení Jara, June 20, 21, 22.
More information is available in Czech and English at www.narodni-divadlo.cz or www.petrzuskagalax.cz. — oo

– Mary Matz

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