Home Sweet Homecomings
A traveling performance from Ostrava, “Homecomings” at Prague’s National Theater November 2 was a homecoming in more ways than one.
The music of three Czech composers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries was presented in three fresh interpretations from some of the finest contemporary Czech and Slovak choreographers.
It was an invigorating evening of dance in the epicenter of Czech culture.The evening’s first piece was set to the music of Bedřich Smetana, who, incidentally, helped lay the foundation stone of the National Theater in 1868. He composed Trio G Moll (in G Minor) for piano, violin and violoncello in 1855 to commemorate the loss of his daughter, Bedřiška.
With a sober black and white palette, the performance – choreographed by Pavel Šmok – featured Petra Kováčová, Brigida Pereira Neves and Vladimir Vašků dancing a felt reflection of the music’s piercing grief.
The three dancers transformed the singularity of a father’s loss into a love triangle of parents and child, with an alluring and complex web of tensions.
Škrtič (Choker) by Bohuslav Martinů, choreographed by Nataša Novotná, was larger and more theatrically narrative, with a cast of nine dancers and a Greek chorus.
An interpretation of the Oedipus story, the performance featured video projections and text that widened the space of the narrative and suggested a postmodern air of abstraction in keeping with the somewhat volatile score.
This was coupled with a combination of contemporary and classic dance elements, with the former exemplified by the crisp pop-and-lock of Patrick Ulman.The concluding performance was Po Zarostlém Chodníčku (Along an Overgrown Path), with thirteen dancers backed by Leoš Janáček’s piano score.
Choreographed by lauded Czech choreographer Jiří Kylián, this was a lushly serene and beautifully colored piece that was cleanly romantic and contemplative without approaching academicism.
It provided a fitting conclusion to the evening, with the ensemble continuing to dance, silently synchronized behind the closing curtain, a narrowing aperture, or perhaps an overgrowing path, slowly obscuring their hypnotic movements.
One had the feeling, on the tram going home, the dancers might still be there onstage…
– Stephan Delbos, Opus Osm writer
Photo Credits: The National Moravian-Silesian Theatre