Much More than Nothing

The dancers offer a palette of structured improvisation in 'Much More than Nothing.'

What Happens When You Don’t Get the Grant? Sometimes, Much More than Nothing …

“Originally, we planned to do a ‘normal’ dance project, with six to eight weeks for planning and rehearsals,” explains Karolina Hejnová. “But then we didn’t get the subsidy.” She’s telling Opus Osm how the collaborative contemporary dance piece Much More than Nothing was nearly finished before it started.

But its creators, the dance group Me-Sa and the Slovak duo Peter Šavel and Stano Dobák, with Studio Alta, decided to go ahead and create the work anyway. “But we reduced the rehearsal time to 10 days, so it’s ‘nothing’ compared to the original plan!” she says.

The performance – a combination of physical dance combined with theatrical and expressive movement – was presented in conjunction with a weekend dance workshop in early February. It originally premiered last June, so although Much More than Nothing had already been performed 10 times by the time it came to Studio Alta, “It’s always different, because as in all live art, you can never feel exactly the same you felt the last time,” dancer Heynová says.

Structure / Improvisation
The result was a performance filled with non-stop youthful energy, expression, movement, color, and humor, growing out of structured improvisation. Ms Hejnová explains exactly what that means: “The structure of the show is fixed, and each part has a very specific movement principle or task. In the framework of these tasks we are all totally free and can improvise.”

For example, in the first piece, the six dancers do the first movement that comes to their individual minds – and bodies – just at that moment, and then repeat the movement for the whole song. Which lasts an agonizingly long 9 minutes.

The surprise, however, is that the only agony occurs when you think about how physically demanding that is on a dancer’s body. Visually, the repeated movements are entrancing, almost soothingly hypnotic, like watching the inner workings of a giant clock.

Watch a short excerpt from Much More than Nothing

The show is punctuated with humor, as in the segment when a voice demands that the dancers do a “Push!” movement, followed faster and faster with other orders such as “Pull! Reach! Kick! Drop! Smile. Smile!! Smile!!!”

Several parts of the performance hint at references to Czech-Slovak history and culture, but foreign audiences can allow these to go right over their heads; they can savor a purely visual smorgasbord, indeed, much more than nothing.

Much More than Nothing will be performed Feb 23 at 6 pm at Studio Alta, as part of the Festival Malá Inventura 2013. — oo

— Mary Matz

Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička

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