Opus Osm Minutka: 420People’s Nataša Novotná

Dancer, choreographer, manager, and more (even broadcaster!), Nataša Novotná plays many roles.

Dancer, choreographer, manager, and more (even broadcaster!), Nataša Novotná plays many roles.

Two dancers, Nataša Novotná and Václav Kuneš, founded the contemporary dance company 420People eight years ago. Today Nataša Novotná answers Opus Osm’s 5 Quick Questions about the innovative troupe.

Opus Osm’s Minutka (″Little Minute″)

5 Quick Questions for Nataša Novotná

1 How would you describe the partnership between yourself and your co-founder, Václav Kuneš?

I think I’m the pusher. I think that he’s gentler with people and I’m the harsher, more demanding one.

I would also say precision is one of my strengths – I’m a perfectionist, which is not always the best, but on the other hand, I think it’s quite important with what we do because the work has to be exact. It comes out nicer that way.

2 You both started as members of Nederlands Dans Theatre. So how did you end up back in Prague?

My father is from Prague and my grandmother is there in the graveyard, so it was always my dream – even in Holland, Václav and I had thoughts in the back of our minds – to create something in the Czech Republic.


Nataša Novotná, Václav Kuneš in ‘Inferno,’ Oct 7, Trutnov; Oct 12, Prague

When I came back [from the Netherlands] around 2007, I had no idea what was going on in the Czech dance scene.

I sort of mapped the situation here in the Czech Republic, connecting with my old school as well as all the other schools, and seeing what the theatres were doing.

Slowly, bit by bit, we started to find our place in Prague.

3 And now, after 8 years in existence, how has the company changed?

We’re not a big team. It started with just Václav and I, and now we have a manager, a PR person and a fundraiser as well, but there are still so many things for so few people to do. I think what makes it work is really that Vaclav and I are so different.

4 What are the main qualities that you look for in a dancer, say, at an audition for 420People?

The main thing I would say is alertness. The way they look at you, the way they look at others, and the way they look at the space they’re in.

The person just has to be intelligent, to be able to perceive, to be multi-layered and able to multi-task. Not so many people are able to do that.

Of course, the dancer also has to be able to move and to understand his/her own body. You can have a twenty-year-old dancer that is basically ready to be on stage, and then you can have a twenty-year-old dancer that doesn’t know their right from their left.

Watch 420People’s earlier performance with musicians Please the Trees:

5 420People’s choreography is very demanding, athletic, and unorthodox. Where does classical training fit in the mix?

A classical base is also really important. I like to compare it to music. When you have a musician that knows his notes, that knows his chords, he can take off from there.

The relevance in the dance world is the same. –oo

420People perform with 14 other groups, including Please the Trees, in Plug & Play Oct 10 at 8 pm at Divadlo Archa. It’s part of the annual 4+4 Days in Motion festival.

– Auburn Scallon, Opus Osm writer

Photo Credits: 420People, Intl Day of Dance, Please the Trees sites

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