Milan Tomášik

Having studied dance at The Ján Levoslav Bella Conservatory in Banská Bystrica, Mr Milan Tomášik (1981, Bojnice) went on to the Faculty of Music and Dance of The Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. Within ImPulsTanz – Vienna International Dance Festival he received, in 2001 a scholarship for the danceWEB, and joined the Dutch company MAPA (Moving Academy for Performing Arts) on a tour. Until 2004 he collaborated in Slovakia with young progressive Slovak artists – Katarína Mojžišová, Eva Klimáčková and Tomáš Krivošík. He graduated from P.A.R.T.S. (Performing Arts Research and Training Studios), the prestigious international dance academy in Brussels.

Whilst with the Les SlovaKs Dance Collective in Brussels, he also worked with the group EN-KNAP in Ljubljana. His beginnings in Slovenia are linked with some of the foremost choreographers, such as Iztok Kovač – EN-KNAP company, Maja Delak and Mala Kline, Snježana Premuš, or Alexander Gottfarb.

On commission by the Štúdio tanca dance theatre in Banská Bystrica he created a feature-length production The Merriments off the past (2012). In team with Stanislav Dobák they presented a documentary dance film Off-Beat live. Together with Magdalena Reiter and Anja Golob he is author of the duet Solo for Two Voices (2017) based on the poem Letter of Testimony (Carta de Creencia) by Octavio Pazo. At the festival Cortoindanza 2015 (Cagliari Italy) he received special award for research into music and expressive power of choreographic language in the solo production Off-Beat.

Milan Tomášik is co-founder and active member of Les SlovaKs Dance Collective based in Brussels. The group is featured internationally for their team works, namely with the projects Opening Night (2007), Journey Home (2009), The Concert (2010), Fragments (2012).

In 2014 he founded the dance group Milan Tomášik & Co, for which he created choreographies for the production of Hunting Season. It received two prizes for best lighting design at Kiosk – festival of different Slovak Theatre and Dance, and the Gibanica festival. He is also the author of choreography for the successful production for four dancers Silver Blue. His most recent choreography for his dance group is the project Fight Bright.

He closes the trilogy of solo productions from the recent decade Within and Off-Beat with Solo 2016, a co-production project between Tabačka Košice and Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana.

He developed his teaching in a seminar series entitled Happy Feet for professional groups, festivals and dance academies. Meanwhile, he also runs workshops Playful Presence across Europe, in China, Democratic Republic of Congo and in Mexico.

He also passes on his experience by tutoring professional groups such as En-Knap, PTL (Slovenia), Dance theatre Štúdio tanca  (Slovakia), Theatre elledanse (Slovakia), La Raffinerie, Jet (Belgium), Statens Scenekunstskole (Denmark), DOCH (Sweden), and SEAD (Austria). He lectures regularly at summer schools and festivals in Deltebre (Spain), at Syros (Greece) and in Berlin.

Signature style

With his refined musicality, Milan Tomášik defined his style early on in his dance career. His sense of transcription of music form into dance is an exceptional quality of his choreographies. His artistic growth has also been significantly affected by his presence at the dance group Les SlovaKs which brought together a variety of defined dancers (Peter Jaško, Milan Herich, Anton Lachký, Martin Kilvády). Mr Tomášik’s contribution to the group has been refined movement to detail, fluently oscillating between intellectualism of contemporary dance, folk rhythm and the extent of movement in the classical dance technique.

At the centre of Mr Tomášik’s interest is the quest for the meaning and source of dance in terms of anthropology. He has fully committed to the topic in his solo production Off-Beat (2011). When working on the piece, he reengaged in the cooperation with company Cortesia dedicated to Renaissance music and dance. The collaboration enabled him to advance his interest in the study of the relationship between music and dance in historical context and to engage in comprehensive research into muses. In the production Off-Beat he sets out rules for the play of contrasts and the interconnection of Baroque aesthetics and contemporary visual eclecticism. He brings together stylised aesthetics of Baroque court etiquette with the authenticity of civil expression. He thus presents the spectators a gallery of dance sketches, their movement overlay and connections. The dramaturgy offers a legible structure that aids the combination of art – an immersion into the court history of nobility and personal experience, confronting them with the most contemporary expressional dance elements. The production creates archaeology and, throughout the performance captures in spiral their evolution. The set design in the first part uses large black plastic wheels and a number of white spheres to create an absurd arrangement for dancer in a stylised Baroque costume. Mr Tomášik later works with the oversize wheels, admitting effort and use of hard force. The change of the costumes to trousers and a king of paper skirt or cloak, significantly changes the music stylisation. The new space of silence is filled with civil authentic elements of deep breath that give way to contemporary music. The paradox of the change evolves from the unforeseen logic of the precise and original movement ties. Those are complemented by the use of the wide range of dynamic contrasts in dance, elements of civil movement implemented into the choreography, and interaction with the audience. The contrast, be it visual, performative or aesthetic, is multiplied to the maximum level also because of the reproduced music (music arranged from Baroque composition and contemporary music: Janez Krstnik and Sašo Kalan). In the Bratislava performance, this was complemented live by the Baroque music ensemble Il Cuore Barocco (Ján Kružliak, Peter Zelenka / violin, Martin Gedeon, Tomáš Kardoš / viola d.g., Metod Podolský / double bass, Jana Dzurňáková / cembalo).

In the polarity of contrasts, Mr Tomášik moves with ease, playfulness and spontaneity. This quality of his work has become even more manifest in the subsequent solo project Solo 2016. Easy in the choreography of the solo is a significant ever-present element that characterises the form of movement language. It is also symptomatic for the author’s mentality – his view of personal, intimate themes. At the same time, it determines his movement in the interspace of climaxing polarities, be them physical or ideological. The delicacy of his movement ties is often built on a subtle and intellectual sense of humour.

In his project Solo 2016, Mr Tomášik focuses all his experience in dance into the theme of return to the roots of dance. The research that was part of the creative process began in 2015 and continued every day throughout the 365 wherever the artist found himself. In all these places he carried out training to a chosen music that surrounded the author or which he was particularly drawn to. He thus opened the conflict between music, to which he is drawn and music genres that he is indifferent to. He grasped this conflict through layering of sound, on which he closely collaborated with acclaimed composers and music theorists. In the production Solo 2016, Mr Tomášik included, for the first time, in the creative process the work of an assistant choreographer (Špela Vodeb). He brings into the work of the author a different, detached perspective in Mr Tomášik’s hitherto work. Solo 2016 is a personal and, at the same time, universal documentary record of a dance that uses a series of different emotional states to speak about intimacy, grief, trust, hope, beauty and horror. The dance here is a common thread that brings the past and future, whilst linking them to the moment when everything changes. Body as basso continuo, constantly passes through space and time, facing off the pressures that violently interfere in our intimate space. The disruption and phrasing of music styles and periods expand the limits that define reality and also serve as an expansion of the body to the universe. It dictates the change of muscular tension, creates rhythm – as traces in time. The thin line between the illuminating and absorbing light balances between the presence and fading, between disappearance and the flowing life, and within the closed space of our being. Solo 2016 is a reflection of a moment that is hard to define, and yet is timeless. It comes and is already gone at the same time. Man has no power to catch it, appropriate it or comment on it. He can only enjoy it.

Personal statement of Mr Tomášik’s solo works finds its pendant in the choreography for the dance group Milan Tomášik & Co. Following the dance production Hunting Season, he created a project Silver Blue. The most recent dance production Fight Bright marks somewhat of a conclusion of his group choreographies made for the group Milan Tomášik & Co. He focuses on and plays out fundamental themes of his previous choreographies. In the project, he again engages in the theme of the relationship between music and movement, their interconnection, autonomy and coexistence in time and space. The musician Simon Thierrée is a brilliant partner to Mr Tomášik in this research and creative work, because of his sensitive setting of music score in connection with the choreographic structure. The garmenting of the music theme and movement phrase creates tangents of harmony in the choreography. They then develop and vary the music and dance theme in parallel within their specific qualities and potential. The pulsation in the relationship between space, music and movement creates distinctive dynamics of the productions. Mr Tomášik uses, in an original and thoughtful manner, set design elements – metal bowls. They serve to define the spatial structure of individual parts of the production, as props for differentiating the relationships between dancers, or as the source of specific sounds. The overlap and connection of individual parts of the choreography often occur through slow-motion climax of the arch of action. The airiness of the dance partner cooperation brings into the nearly acrobatically unlimited physical expression elements of intimacy and fragility of relationships. The dancers rather touch the air surrounding their partners, move in the interspace of physical contact, sensual perception and reflection of the partner. The dance is made more dynamic through the incessant presence of kindly humour between the dancers. It is also retained in confrontational scenes that tend to open rather than define the themes of tension.

The work of Milan Tomášik is distinctive for his creation of sophisticated relationships between music and dance, layering of intellectual theme, objective detachment of personal views, the incorporation of delicate quality of gesture into technically challenging sequences, and the inventive pulsating dynamics of dance production.

A list of original works