Vladislav Šoltýs’s (1973, Michalovce) first personal experience with dance came during his stint in the folklore ensemble Zemplín. He is a graduate of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, where he majored in pedagogy of modern dance. While a student in Bratislava between 1994 and 1999, he danced in the cieLaroque (A) ensemble under the leadership of Helene Weinzierl. He performed in such productions as Feuerland, Duett, Liquid Underwear, Vis a Vis. After 1993, he also worked in the dance group Ballet Torso. Later on, after 1997, Šoltýs performed for the Bratislava Dance Theatre in such productions as Weddings, Firebird, and Romeo and Juliet in Ján Ďurovčík’s choreography.
After completing his studies, he worked as a dancer in the Landestheater Linz (A) under the leadership of Robert Poole. For three seasons, he performed for the Wiener Volksoper (A) in the dance productions of choreographer Liz King. While working for this theatre, he was cast in the legendary production Schwanensee Remix, and performed in such productions as Caravaggio, Nodding Dog, and Underworlds. In collaboration with the Austrian director Martin Gruber (A), he performed in the productions Vogel, Persians, and Liebe Mich in the expressionist theatre Aktionstheater Wien (A). In 2005, Šoltýs started his cooperation with the Slovak Dance Theatre and performed in the project entitled Bolero/The Story of a Mother choreographed by Ján Ďurovčík.
Šoltýs continued to gain dance and theatre experience in productions by professional dance ensembles, such as the Tanztheater in Vienna, the Slovak Dance Theatre, Dajv, and the elledanse alternative theatre (SK). Between 2003 and 2011, Vladislav Šoltýs was a member of the Fabulous Beast Dance Theatre in Carrick-on-Shannon in Ireland, led by Michael Keegen-Dolan. This successful partnership offered him a chance to perform the theatre’s repertory at festivals in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, United Kingdom, Poland, Germany, and the United States – the productions included Giselle, The Bull, The Flowerbed, James, son of James, and Rite of Spring for the English National Opera in London. In 2009, the dance group was nominated for the Europe Prize New Theatrical Realities. In 2008, Šoltýs was nominated for the Olivier Awards for the productions Giselle, The Bull, and The Rite of Spring. The Bull won The Circle Award of UK Critics for best contemporary choreography in 2008. In 2004, the production Giselle won the special critics’ prize of the Irish Times Theatre Awards.
Together with the dance group cieLaroque/helene weinzierl, he performed in the production esnes.n.on in Singapore, Malaysia, and India. In 2009, Vladislav Šoltýs presented his authorial solo dance project entitled King at the international dance festival Bratislava in Movement.
In the alternative theatre elledanse, he performed in choreographer Šárka Ondrišová’s productions Apple and Water on Water. For the Dajv group, he performed in Marta Poláková’s dance projects Contemporary Dance Manual and Smooth Edge. For elledanse, he used Peter Groll’s music to create the production The Rift as part of the Quadrans dance evening programme. At the Academy of Performing Arts, he created the production Women for the female students of the Dance Faculty. When making the dance production Little Women, he assisted the choreographer Michaela Nezvalová. He also performed with the Tanztheater Wien in the production Back to the Future, which was presented at the Impulstanz Festival in Vienna in 2015.
As a pedagogue, he has worked for the elledanse dance house in Bratislava, as well as at the ProArt Brno festivals, Lab ProArt workshops in Brno and Prague, the 4 (+1) Days of Dance for You festival in Banská Bystrica, as part of the activities of the Laban Studio in Bratislava, at the Lab1 summer school where he led a coaching project. He also works as a teacher at the Ponteo dancing school in Rusovce and instructor at the Private Conservatory in Košice and Dance Conservatory of Eva Jaczová in Bratislava.
Vladislav Šoltýs took part in the 3rd China – CEEC Summer Dance Camp in Sichuan, led a Master workshop at the Beijing Dance Academy, taught at the 5th China – CEEC Summer Dance Camp in Tongliao. He is the regular leader of workshops at the MOVE Festival in Ostrava and teaches at workshops in Brno. Currently, he is a teacher of contemporary dance and dance theatre at the Academy of Performing Arts. He has also been an intensive yoga practitioner and acclaimed yoga teacher for a long time, and has expanded his interests in movement, for example, to include the study of Japanese Battodo fencing.
As a yoga instructor, he led courses and workshops for the elledanse dance house, the summer school of Lab1, the SĽUK theatre, HYC centre, at ProArt and Pohoda festivals, as well as at the Concept Clinic in Bratislava. He created the project of the dance contest Gala Art Moves. Art Moves is a platform for young artists, choreographers, and dance performers with the aim to encourage and motivate young dance artists between the ages of 18 and 25 to make art in Slovakia. This platform provides a space for the presentation of selected choreographies and dance projects and provides an overview of the latest trends in the work of emerging dance artists.
At present, he is preparing the dance solo Fascia whose main theme is isolation. The project addresses the anatomical “fascia” in its original meaning. Fascia holds our body together, it is responsible for the shape of the internal organs, their position, connection, or function and in addition it protects them and prevents the spread of infections. Fascia is figuratively like a foil that isolates us from our surroundings, protects us and creates an impression of safety.
In his work so far, Vladislav Šoltýs has been elaborately interconnecting aesthetics of expressive theatre style, techniques of modern dance, and the authenticity and multidisciplinarity of contemporary dance. For him, a dramatic conflict between opposites is a source of dynamic acceleration and interconnection of seemingly disparate movement styles. By oscillating between antagonistic poles and gradually blurring the differences, his projects expose the basic motif of his stories, soften the black and white definition of the theme, and round the edges of the conflict.
The solo project entitled King is a production created using a devised libretto containing a story of egoism and egocentrism told from the point of view of a man. The story is set in atypical non-stage space of the former Cvernovka (thread factory) on Páričkova street in Bratislava and the choreographer made great use of the space of an abandoned industrial complex. Formally, the choreographer merged classical dancing techniques with improvisation as a method enabling authentic movement reactions and interactions. In addition, improvisation is also an instrument that identifies dancing action within the existing stage design. The libretto has found its parallel in the early years of ballet art when King Louis XVI organized ostentatious feasts with choreographically stylized serving. This included dance performances that allegorized the contemporary political situation in France. These performances were a kind of “state of the union reports” which made public the ruler’s political and strategic plans using allegorical stories from ancient mythology.
The stage is dominated by a long table covered by a tablecloth. The audience gets to meet an archetypal Ruler-King (Vladislav Šoltýs) who manipulates the crowd. He is drunk from his power, ego, and megaphone which sometimes seems to rule instead of him. One comic moment shows him first articulating his incomprehensible message into the megaphone, then involuntarily placing it on the throne. The plot of the solo dance King takes place during a single dinner organized by the king for his courtiers. A manservant (Vladislav Šoltýs) welcomes the guests (the spectators) and brings various delicacies on his master’s already set table. While he is devouring the food, he chokes on it. The egoistic king (Vladislav Šoltýs), who is entertaining his courtiers who have been invited to the dinner, uses performance and movement to lead a “dialogue” with his schizophrenic, split personality. The conflict lies in the hopelessness and powerlessness of two different personalities, and in the inability to find inner harmony. On one side of the table there is food and various kinds of sweets, boiled and roasted meat, and on the other there is raw uncooked food, old meat, and rotten vegetables. In the middle of the table is a chair reminiscent of a royal throne. The throne is a kind of boundary between two personalities, the king as an egocentric tyrant and as a frightened weakling, a juxtaposition of good and bad food. The plot is full of dynamic verbal expressions and movement virtuosity. The power-hungry king struggles with his weaker schizophrenic self. This self resolves the situation by poisoning himself and all the guests at the table. It is a reflection on what a powerful weapon our mind is and how strongly it can manipulate a person.
Another Vladislav Šoltýs’s authorial project is The Rift, which became part of the Quadrans evening programme. It comprised three parts of the production by the elledanse dance theatre. The main character is a person trying to find himself in the complexity of interpersonal relationships. The mosaic of events and scenes completes the picture about his inner life, the peripeties of his destiny.
It is a story full of flexible means of expression, dance vibrations, metaphysical gestures. Technically demanding movement sequences are complemented by borderline emotional expressions. The symbolism of gestures has become part of the movement phrases, linking civil expression with technically demanding dance elements. Realistic psychological acting blended with dance areas. The plot includes the little story of a woman feeling the pressure of bureaucratic paperwork and the activities of tie-wearing dancing Clerks who bring paralysis to life. The infinite relationship between a man and a woman in an ironic and sarcastic form materializes in a full-blooded dance, in physically demanding action with the partner, using acrobatic and lifts defying physical laws. The stage characters are tired of endlessly battling each other, often falling to the ground, only to be brought back by the computer into the game called Life. The very contemporary stage form oscillates between dance abstraction and narrative theatricality, and is full of expressive actor-movement traits of the female-male psyche, as well as of humour and irony.
The dance project Women was created at the Academy of Performing Arts. In it, the choreographer presented four different kinds of young women. Their rapacity in trying to make their dreams and desires come true is a caricatured version of the real image of their inner life. The highlighted difference in the perception and emotional reception pushes the dancers away from each other. Their competitiveness becomes a source of amusing situations spiced up with a tinge of light self-irony.
In their solo performances, the performers move through feigned self-assured and eccentric manifestos to a poignant sharing of their inner fragility, a longing for the support of a kindred spirit. Through the catharsis of the conflict of difference and expectations, the dancers achieve the tolerance of otherness and solidarity.
For each female character, Šoltýs chose a characteristic movement language, defined by specific gestures and contrasting dynamics of movement. Embarrassing elements are part of elaborate humour that maintains a detached view of the action. Despite the hyperbolization of the characters’ features, the detachment does not diminish the resulting kindness of the attitude. The expressed drive and rapacity of the youth gives the production its “sauce” and is likeable because of its honesty.
Vladislav Šoltýs’s work is characterised by an effort to focus on the essential, to search for an opinion in the tangle of black-and-white judgements made of events and people. The emptiness of the pompous assertion of “one’s” truth is subjected to fierce criticism. The care with which Šoltýs arrives at the definition of his opinion reflects the depth and subtlety with which he approaches seemingly disparate subjects. The intensity of his quest for points of contact, possibilities of sharing, and overlaps in polarised themes creates a space for complexity of expression through the artistically stylised aesthetics of gestures and images. Within this, his work embraces the expressiveness of the performers’ theatrical expression, combined with the energetic dynamism of technically demanding dance choreography.
In his choreographies, Šoltýs often uses the power of seemingly static images. In the rhythmic rupture of the dramaturgical line, the stopping of the action in his works is rather a dynamizing element, a manifestation of the fusion of contexts and circumstances. It is up to the viewer to fill in the fragments of what really happened at that moment of rupture.
- 2009 – King, Benito/Bubla Company, Bratislava in Movement, choreographed and directed by: Vladislav Šoltýs. Premiere: Cvernovka Gallery, Páričkova st., Bratislava
- 2010 – The Rift/Quadrans, elledanse, choreography: Vladislav Šoltýs. Premiere: elledanse Dance Theatre, Bratislava
- 2014 – Women, Academy of Performing Arts, choreographed and directed by: Vladislav Šoltýs. Premiere: LAB Theatre of the Academy of Performing Arts, Bratislava
- 2017 – Little Women, Studio 12, choreography: Michaela Nezvalová, directed by: Vladislav Šoltýs. Premiere: Studio 12, Bratislava
- 2021 – Fascia, ProArt Company, choreographed and directed by: Vladislav Šoltýs. Premiere: New Cvernovka, Bratislava