Opus Osm Minutka:Portrait & Paradiso


Two-for-One: The latest work by 420People offers startling choreography by Nataša Novotná and Vaclav Kuneš.

Opus Osm Minutka (“Little Minute”):
Five Fast Facts about 420People’s
Portrait Parlé and Paradiso

The acrobatic artists of contemporary dance company 420People premiered their latest works at Jatka 78 on Apr 14. The artsy crowds were as colorful as the backdrops in this former-slaughterhouse-turned-artists’ space in Prague’s Holešovice neighborhood.

1 Nataša Novotná’s choreography explores the way we interact in a modern world: Portrait Parlé begins in the lobby while audience members are still sipping their drinks.

“Despite the ever more sophisticated means of communication we seem to be losing our capacity of understanding,” Ms Novotná explains in her description of the piece.

Dancers, each foot strapped to a wooden chair, move slowly throughout the lobby to sounds of bird chirps and ocean waves, interspersed with Chopin’s fast-paced Fantasie-Impromptu, Opus 66.

Šárka Bočková, in white, moves freely from chair to chair, tango-ing with one dancer before moving on to embrace the next. After working her way around the lobby, Ms Bočková, suspended from the ceiling in a net, provides an interlude of aerial work.

Back on the ground, she leads the audience into the intimate theater.


Even dancing on the chair-tops isn’t a challenge for the capable 420People dance company.

2 Two dancers wait on stage, and as the music rises, Vojtěch Rak’s entire body begins to pulsate, drawing the audience’s attention back to the performance.

The remainder of Portrait Parlé plays with power struggles and gravity-defying lifts that scream, “Look ma, no hands!” over a sultry saxophone soundtrack.

Dancers Milan Odstrčil and Tamara Kšírová, with his elegant masculine strength and her powerful female presence, could almost be mistaken for co-founders Nataša Novotná and Vaclav Kuneš themselves.

3 We’re naming Vojtěch Rak as one to watch on the local dance scene, contributing strong performances to both Portrait Parlé and Paradiso.

He incorporates boundless energy and effortless stage presence with a smooth fluidity and talent for isolating a single part of the body. He blends influences of animation, break dance, and acrobatics with contemporary sensibilities.

Since graduating from the Dance Conservatory of Prague in 2013, Vojtěch Rak has worked with 420People, Bohemia Ballet, and the Prague Chamber Ballet. We expect to see him on Prague stages for years to come.

4 Paradiso is much more theatrical. Choreographed by Václav Kuneš, it’s part of a loosely-related series inspired by Dante, including 2014′s Inferno. Vojtěch Rak and Lukáš Lepold, dressed in gold, strike god-like stances at the back of the stage, while center stage doors opened on a backlit Nikol Šneiderová, creating a sense of drama right from the start. Šneiderová does double duty throughout the piece, adding beautifully lilting vocals over the industrial soundtrack.

5 The trio delights in discovering each other, with bodies often intertwined or mimicking each other’s movement. In one of the standout moments of the piece, the crouched dancers control six ropes laid across the back of the stage. A single flick of their wrists sends waves through the ropes to match the beat of the music, symbolizing the patterns on sheet music. The dancers rise to dance individually in front of this rhythmic visual.

Elvis Presley also plays a surprise cameo in Paradiso: The dancers occasionally stop to recite lyrics from “A Little Less Conversation” before providing the audience with a lot more action.

You can catch Portrait Parle and Paradiso at Jatka 78 on May 14 at 7:30 pm.

– Auburn Scallon, Opus Osm writer

Photo Credits: Top: 420People; bottom, Auburn Scallon

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