Marie Kinsky makes Žďár nad Sázavou into dance venue

Marie Kinsky, a French dancer, teacher and graduate of the French Conservatory of Classical Dance, has moved to Prague back in 1997, and since then, she has been involved in all kinds of dance activities. She established the first Centre for Choreographic Development in the Czech Republic and along with her husband, she has been involved in the reconstruction of the Kinsky family estate in Žďár nad Sázavou. This weekend, the beautiful baroque castle will be hosting the fourth edition of KoresponDance, a festival of dance and physical theatre.

Marie Kinsky, photo: ČT24Marie Kinsky, photo: ČT24 I spoke to Marie Kinsky just a few days ahead of the event, I first asked her about SESTA, the Centre for Choreographic Development.

“We started the very first activities back in 1999, but at the time it wasn’t the Centre for Choreographic Development. We built up the activities of our centre progressively, following the needs in the field.

Photo: Vojtěch Brtnický / SE.S.TAPhoto: Vojtěch Brtnický / SE.S.TA “The aim of the centre is to help professionals in the field, including teachers and critics, to develop in an artistic way. We help them to do research, to be in contact with people from abroad who have similar aims, to be confronted with other fields of art. In other words, we help them to grow in their own field.”

So what exactly do you offer?

“We offer international seminars, choreography coaching and residencies with coaching. We offer workshop analysing choreographic work both for critics and choreographers. “We offer residencies to artists, where they can do basically any research they want. We don’t ask them for any result, except to share something with the audience, a discussion, an exhibition, and so on.

Photo: Vojtěch Brtnický / SE.S.TAPhoto: Vojtěch Brtnický / SE.S.TA “We don’t push artists into anything, which I think is very important in this country. We enable them to have time to go for their own work, instead of focusing right away on the result.

“We are also producing their work. So we go from research and production to presenting the works. At the same time we are inviting people from abroad with whom they are collaborating. We want the audience to find out more about the artistic process itself.

“So to sum it up, we do workshops and seminars, we are producing pieces, promoting performances as well as organizing festivals. But we are not a production house. Our aim is really to help artists, teachers, and critics to develop.”

Feldenkrais method, photo: International Feldenkrais Federation, Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0Feldenkrais method, photo: International Feldenkrais Federation, Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0 You studied dance yourself and you have been teaching for many years. Do you still teach in these days?

“I was a teacher for thirty years but because of the amount of work this year, I am not teaching right now. But I would love to go back to it, because I really like it a lot.”

In your classes, you have focused on the so-called Feldenkrais method. Can you tell me more about it?

“I am using the Feldenkrais method mainly with professional dancers. It’s something that prepares the body, the nervous system and the mind, for a particular task.

“It’s something very delicate and seems to be nothing when you practice, but it has a huge impact on the nervous system. It enriches your vocabulary as a dancer and it also helps you to use your own body the best way you can at the given moment.

Photo: Vojtěch Brtnický / SE.S.TAPhoto: Vojtěch Brtnický / SE.S.TA “The body is something that keeps developing, because of your history, emotions and various other things. So you have to adapt all the time, learn who you are today and how to use your body the best way you can.”

Based on your experience as a teacher and dancer, what would you say makes a good dancer?

“What makes a good dancer? That’s a very interesting question. I guess that what is important is to reach an understanding of something that you can’t reach with words.

“It is also about how you communicate it to people. You speak to the audience through your movements. The audience has their own experience with movement, but perhaps not with movement of this kind. So it speaks to people right away, without words, and that’s the marvellous thing about it.”

Three years ago you established a dance festival called KoresponDance, which takes place in Žďár nad Sázavou, in the castle owned by the Kinsky family. How has the festival developed over the years?

“It has made a huge development. This year we won’t have just a one-day event but a three-day programme. But we still stick to the same philosophy. We invite highly qualified people from the Czech Republic and abroad, but we want them to collaborate with the local people from Žďár, because we want to maintain a spirit of collaboration.

KoresponDance, photo: YouTubeKoresponDance, photo: YouTube “This year we will have around eighty people working for the festival. We have always chosen performances which are suitable for the whole family. We have children enjoying the same events as their parents, yet on a completely different level.

So the event is really joyful, it takes place outside, and we want to keep the warm atmosphere and at the same time maintain the high standard of the performances.”

What are some of the highlights of this year’s festival?

Lumen, photo: Olivier Bonnet / SE.S.TALumen, photo: Olivier Bonnet / SE.S.TA “I guess I can mention three main events. One is Lumen by Dominique Boivin. He has already been to the Czech Republic with his performance called Transports Exceptionnels or Něžný Bagr, which was a duet between an excavator and a dancer, and it was very emotional and sensitive.

“This time he comes with a performance involving another technical machine, which is about 16 metres high, dancing with three street dancers. This machine can really dance and it is absolutely incredible. The communication between the dancers and the machine is absolutely great.”

Obludárium, photo: Christain Berthelot / SE.S.TAObludárium, photo: Christain Berthelot / SE.S.TA What are the other two events you wanted to mention?

“We are also inviting the Czech Republic’s Forman brothers with their Obludárium, which is very baroque in its spirit. It includes puppet theatre, dance and a circus. They have a very special way of interacting with the audience and it’s a beautiful performance for the whole family. It’s like a dream world.

Béatrice Massin, photo: Archives of the KoresponDanceBéatrice Massin, photo: Archives of the KoresponDance “And then you can also see an event by Béatrice Massin which will link the baroque castle in Žďár with contemporary art. One of our aims is to make the historic venue more up-to- date, and that’s exactly what Beatrice Massin will do.”

“She will dance with six well-known Czech dancers and six amateurs. So it will be a performance for twelve people, based on a baroque dance score that will be presented in our new museum in Žďár. So they will build a contemporary performance based on this old score and it will be tremendously interesting.”

Is the festival taking place only within the castle or are there also other venues?

Castle Žďár nad Sázavou, photo: Prazak, CC BY 2.5Castle Žďár nad Sázavou, photo: Prazak, CC BY 2.5 “The festival takes place mainly in the area of the castle, or rather the estate, because it is an abbey and a castle at the same time. But we also want to link the estate with the town.

“One of the performances will take place in the very industrial part of the town, in front of a sports stadium and a skate park, with break dancers and clowns, and it is living in this part of town in a poetic way.

“Some of the events will also take place in a leisure park which was opened in Žďár last year, and which is a real success for the town. So we are really glad that we can cooperate with the town on this kind of events, both on our estate and in the town.”

Žďár nad Sázavou, photo: David HánaŽďár nad Sázavou, photo: David Hána The dance festival is not the only event that you organize in Žďár. What about your other activities?

“We have a very ambitious plan with my husband, not only for the estate but also for the town itself. We would like to turn the estate into a sort of the cultural centre. It’s about explaining the history of the estate, what you can see here and why it is like that.

“Over the past three years we have had up to twenty companies who had residencies in Žďár, mainly dancers, but also musicians and poets. So we have a complex programme linked to the estate and the festival and we want to focus on activities with people and for people.”