The Ponec theatre in Prague, concentrating mainly on contemporary dance, is one of few cultural institutions that was lucky enough to be spared by the devastating floods in August, despite being located in the Karlin district that suffered most damage. From November 18th to November 29th, it will present the Dance in Holland festival, introducing some of the best and most interesting Dutch dance companies to Czech audiences. Yvona Kreuzmannova is one of the festival's main organisers:
"Dance in Holland is a festival, which we worked on last year because of an incredible proposal we got from the Days of Dutch Dance in Maastricht and the Dutch Dance Platform in Rotterdam as well as Dutch institutions like the Netherlands Theatre Institute and the Royal Dutch Embassy. We saw that there was so much going on, so it would be a pity to present just one work in one festival. The idea was that if there is a country such as the Netherlands where many things are going on - the artists are very exciting and interesting, they proposed to hold workshops and want to follow up on the project - then we'll work on fund raising and set up the festival, which will show a large scale of contemporary dance in Holland."
Now, is this the first time that you are focusing on that part of the world?
"It's actually following our idea from the last season when we started with the Nordic countries and did the Northern Lights festival. It was very successful with some Danish and Finnish dancers, much smaller than this one. But we did show one part of Europe in this small festival and we want to continue with this tradition because there are many different interesting ideas that are not only in Europe that we want to present in Prague."
One of the highlights of the festival will be the NDT performance not because it will be the best of all but because it is a sort of bonus to visitors, isn't it?
"Days of Dutch Dance or Dance in Holland, as we now call it, is a festival which is also a show in cooperation with two different presenters. Our festival is in the Ponec theatre from November 18th to 29th. The NATO summit will be held in Prague in those days, in frame of which Mr Opela has organised two performances of NDT III, Netherlands Dance Theatre, in the Vinohrady Theatre. I anted to cooperate with Mr Opela and put his programme in the Days of Dutch Dance.So, we tried to promote it together to show that Dutch dance really is in two different places in Prague in the second half of November."
So what artists have you invited to Prague next week?
"We invited five different small, but not so small, groups. To be honest, the Rotterdam Company has more than fifteen members, so it's not so small. We again asked the audience to find out what they liked better, whether they would like a combination of break dance with contemporary dance, as it is the case of Conny Janssen or pure abstract dance with the Cunningham technique with really fantastic visual lighting, which is the case of Dance Works Rotterdam, or whether they would like to see new blood coming from dancers from NDT like Vaclav Kunes and his colleagues and they dance their own choreographies as soloists of NDT or in the end of the festival we will present two more theatrical projects. One of them is Bruno Listopad who is much more into dance theatre where he uses scenery, costumes and set design on a very high level. At the end of the festival will be a performance by Anouk Van Dijk. She comes from dance theatre but choreographs pure dance. So, she combines the styles and is a very interesting personality. The real Dutch star of today."
So you've selected artists and companies that will give Czech audiences a good mix of dance styles to choose from...
"The programme is made up of these very, very different things and each one is so exciting that the dance community will definitely want to see it as a whole. For the audience, which likes more of the neo-classic styles, there is Rotterdam for dance theatre, Bruno for break dance, Connie represents the young generation, and Anouk is for dance lovers."
Have Czech audiences had the chance to see Dutch dance here in the Czech Republic before?
"In the frame of some festivals, especially Tanec Praha, we have invited several Dutch artists. Conny Janssen was here in Tanec Praha 2002 and it was an extremely successful piece. NDT were also here thanks to Mr Opela. Jiri Kylian is in the repertoire of the National Ballet Theatre. So, basically, there is knowledge of some Dutch dance but it's not so deep and not so good. So, our aim is to show much more and to give not only this series of performances but also to provide workshops and lectures and video presentations. The video presentation is also for a larger audience and not only for the dance community."
And where will these workshops and seminars and lectures take place?
"Partially in the Ponec Theatre because of the NATO summit and after the summit we will move to the Academy of Arts' dance department on the Old Town Square."
Now, what about interest in the festival so far? It begins on Monday. Do you expect the NATO summit to affect operation at the theatre?
"We hope not. If we would expect it, we wouldn't choose these dates. But you are right, the smallest number of reservations were made for the days of the summit. Maybe the audience is still afraid but I suppose that after the press conference and some articles, the audience will increase. We have also started some outdoor publicity now, so we expect people to come. The first performance seems to be almost sold out now."
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