The research carried out by the Theatre Institute into the most recent history of the art of dance in Slovakia is largely inspired by the intention to explore and archive the formative period and evolution of the contemporary independent dance scene. Within its research, the Theatre Institute maps Slovak choreographers and continuously augments its archival funds with comprehensive complex documentary material covering the works of individual artists.
Among the latest endeavours to create a platform for Slovak contemporary dance the work of the civic group PlaST – Platform for Contemporary Dance deserves particular mention. Founded in 2016, it aims to address issues related to contemporary dance in Slovakia in terms of its support and inclusion into cultural strategies.
Contemporary dance, as we know it in its current form, has evolved directly from the performative and creative potential of amateur companies of modern dance. They enjoyed their rise in the 1970s and 1980s. The fall of Communism in 1989 enabled influx of international foundations (such as the Open Society Foundation, Pro Helvetia, L’Institut français and many others) and thus opportunities to engage in international cooperation and dance education in contemporary dance as well. The support set the base for its further professionalisation: As the experience and knowledge grew, it also resulted in revising the teaching methods of this particular dance style and its inclusion in university curriculum.
Apart from the Theatre Dance Studio in Banská Bystrica, the independent contemporary dance scene in Slovakia has not, as yet, been given an opportunity to comprehensively work and grow in dance centres, houses or within the network of dance venues. Hence, most Slovak dance artists have been long based abroad. Internationally they enjoy exceptional acclaim. They tend to return to Slovakia, equipped with experience, in connection with their role in co-production projects, or with presentation of their work at seminars and workshops.
In 2018 the Theatre Institute, in conjunction with the non-profit organisation Dance Prague, and the information, promotion, learning, advisory and research centre Art Institute – Theatre Institute presented an online catalogue entitled A Brief Guide to Slovak Contemporary Dance at the international dance fair The internationale tanzmesse nrw in Düsseldorf.
The catalogue contained a selection of the current works by contemporary Slovak choreographers, featuring the latest contemporary dance productions on Slovak stage. The catalogue served as the vantage point for the follow-up online project entitled Slovenské scénické umenie/Slovak Performing Arts.
Individual profiles are based on an analysis of three productions from different periods of the given choreographer. The method enables both identification and analysis of the distinctive features of each author, and an outline of their evolution.
By identifying the idiosyncratic inventive elements in the work of these authors, the section Choreography presents the diversity of the creative capacity on the home scene of contemporary dance within European context.
The potential continuously benefits from impulses that arise from collaboration with artists who work within the fields of drama, visual, art, music, literature and philosophy. Our dancers apply the impulses by different means. Their creative cooperation is the alchemy of smoothing the edges in the relationship between individual artistic media.
With their artistic projects, our dance authors respond sensitively to the current social impulses. They bring on stage courageous, often thought-provoking adaptations of the pressing themes. They are showing confrontation of views or hyperbolisation of paradoxes and deviations of our era, they predict the destructive consequences of careless passivity or pragmatic subordination. The nature of their work at different levels contributes to the spread of tolerance and openness to reality and relationships. In their projects, they point out the fragility of fundamental cultural values in post-factual presence. They apply the notion of beauty not merely as an aesthetic category, but also as a universal benchmark of value system. At times, they bend and polarise it, working, in a controversial manner, with its content. The formal and thematic diversity in the works of those choreographers reflects the generational cumulation of their creative potential and defined artistic signature style. In their portfolio one finds a colourful scale of style expression: from conceptual intellectual projects, through expressively set productions working with acrobatic elements, the fragile and intimate movement statements and sincere personal emotional stories, all the way to intermedia fusions of genres and new technologies used in dance performances.
The online catalogue Slovenské scénické umenie/Slovak Performing Arts captures the work of Slovak contemporary choreographers. The content will be further expanded by new authors, along with an update of the hitherto featured artists.