Renata Ptačin (née Bubniaková; 1980, Liptovský Mikuláš) began her dancing career as a student at Ján Levoslav Bella Conservatory in Banská Bystrica. While still a student, between 1995 and 2000, she not only demonstrated her distinctive interpretational skills but also started creating her own choreographies. Her projects included, for instance, A Personality for Dinner (1998) and The Family (1999), created in collaboration with Tomáš Krivošík. The Family won 3rd Prize at Jarmila Jeřábková’s choreography contest in Prague. Already her first performances demonstrated Ptačin’s skills as a choreographer, her feeling for parody and exaggeration, as well as subtle situational comedy, all elements which would later become characteristic for her art.
After her studies at the Conservatory, Ptačin joined the Dance Studio in Banská Bystrica under the leadership of Zuzana Ďuricová Hájková. As a performer, she helped create some of the studio’s legendary productions, such as About the Tree in Me, Sattó – Dance of the Wind, Forbidden Places, Trois, and Something Between Us. This creative period taught her how to make use of her knack for dance theatre – a style whose features she kept developing further. Her interpretational qualities allowed her to define her dance competencies, which were based on a flawless mastery of various dancing styles and techniques. Ptačin’s distinctive, passionate, and full-bloodied performance expressivity became an integral part of her artistic qualities alongside a refined sense of the grotesque and humorous distance.
In 2000, Ptačin started her studies in classical dance pedagogy at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava, which she completed in 2005. Then she continued her work as a choreographer and collaborated with Daniel Raček on the project entitled Joseph and the Chick (2001) in which they humorously adapted and commented on elements of musical clichés.
She really stood out in the successful project The Three of Us / My try (MY3) (2002), a generational testimony of young women, their ambitions, and dreams. The project was created collaboratively by Renáta Bubniaková, Lucia Kašiarová and Stanislava Vlčeková. It was awarded 3rd prize at the prestigious global choreography competition Saitama Solitude Dance Contest in Tokyo.
In 2005–2010, Renata Ptačin became a member of the ballet ensemble of the New Stage Theatre, where she interpreted roles with her typically passionate and temperamental dance expressivity, a sense for music and humour, as well as an exceptional feeling for expressing the depths of dramatic tragedy.
In 2006, she founded her own dance group – the Bubla Company – with which she performed her following projects: The Bride from Underneath the Dance Floor, Cosmonauts, and Blood. In collaboration with the civic association RESERVA, the company also produced Solo for Three Vacuum Cleaners. These projects were characteristic for their interdisciplinary connections within the creative team. The visual aspect of the projects became a significant and emancipated stage- and content-relevant element.
Ptačin has worked closely with eminent European choreographers, such as Julian Hamilton (Spain), Matthew Hawkins (United Kingdom), Norbert Aboudarham (France), Tomasz Wygoda (Poland) and Monika Koch (Austria). She has also performed roles in several of their projects and worked as a choreographer in drama and musical productions by Slovak directors, such as Michal Náhlik, Soňa Ferancová, or Sláva Daubnerová. As a pedagogue, she has worked with the Bralen Dance Theatre, the Terpsichoré Ballet Studio at the Elementary Art School in Svätý Jur, and at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (as a pedagogue of modern dance for future actors).
Renata Ptačin’s art is characteristic for its comical stylization, formally anchored in an oscillating juxtaposition of the musical aesthetic of movement and the abstract nature of the visual aspects of stage images. Her style is borderline diverse and could be likened to the postdramatic form of dance theatre or contemporary musical. The inventiveness with which she approaches the themes, and their treatment with her satirical, humorous insight into choreography and direction of dance productions, is an original enrichment of the Slovak contemporary dance scene. Such elements as awkwardness, grotesque, absurdity, and paradox appear in her choreographies and form a supporting, but key part of the stage concept. She addresses a diversity of human issues with warm kindness and humour. She pays special attention to these peripeties to show the tenderness inherent in them. Ptačin can sensitively construct whole scenes and images out of minor failures, doubts, and human clumsiness.
The themes she uses in her work are typical for their tragic charge whose depth allows the artist to accumulate revelatory contexts, etching any attempts to prevent internal or external destruction. The choreographer precisely and sensitively incorporates her intimate testimony into a highly stylized stage context which features elements of the grotesque and mainstream.
A certain exaggeration in her work is the manifestation of vitality, a positive and human outlook on life. It is also constructively asserted in the cynicism of her attitude and the rawness of the exposed reality of the staged themes. In her choreographies, Renata Ptačin is able to seamlessly combine naturalistic detail with stylized gesture. In doing so, the movement does not lose its concreteness, either in the meaning level or within the dynamic sequence of movement links. At the same time, the artist continuously develops the metaphorical line, which makes the personal statements universal. Her work is also characteristic for a strong dynamism in the contrasts between individual dancing sequences and, especially owing to the original movement culture, allows Ptačin to speak about a particular theme or stage situation fully and with a defined opinion.
After founding the Bubla Company and following the premiere of Cosmonauts, her next project The Bride from Underneath the Dance Floor was first staged at the Nu Dance Fest in Bratislava in 2007. In this production Ptačin clearly defined her directorial and choreographic approaches as a combination of the elements of musical, contemporary dance, and dance theatre. The artist herself described the project as a contemporary musical. In her directorial approach, she followed the canons of the musical stage style, but in her choreography she very purposefully and sensitively combined the technique of contemporary dance with elements of musical choreography and singing. She also often mixed into the movements step connections typical of jazz dance as well as polycentric movement. She did not shy away from elements of classical ballet, either. Peter Groll created a contemporary musical composition for the production, oscillating between citations and witty arrangements of pop music motifs and the progressive sound of contemporary music. Martin Kotúček’s costumes completed the eclectic character of the exposed aesthetic of this project. The relationship theme, as directed by Bubniaková, is approached with much self-irony. The dance images allow the choreographer to frequently hyperbolize the situational drama, gestures, and expressions, which are sometimes shifted to an almost grotesque style. This is what makes the author’s style authentic – it fills up the space between the musical and contemporary dance.
Ptačin’s solo production Blood reflects on a powerful human weapon: the mind. Ptačin works with unimaginable variations of the ways in which the mind can manipulate people. Simultaneously, it presents the story of a woman who sheds her skin every year because she has to be cleansed of everything that has left traces on her during the previous twelve months, of all the things that have left a mark on her. The passing time and life have shrouded the lonely woman in an impenetrable cloak, a cover in which she lives and rules, a space that embodies her desire for manipulation and becomes her driving force. During the annual ritual, she tries to get rid of the unwanted by-product of her life, everything that she feels insecure about and that could potentially threaten her existence. She “literally” sheds her skin. This “skin” is represented by a sort of furry variant of a baroque dress in which the dancer is draped and parades before the audience.
The subtle female being (Magdaléna Čaprdová) evokes the surreal illusion of a disturbingly beautiful aesthetic object. The dancer alternates highly stylized baroque or classical ballet poses with acrobatic, reversed positions on hands, her movement partly relying on improvisation, though conceptually, it is rather subordinated to the applied extent of dramatic expressivity. In her choreography, Ptačin smoothly and elaborately combines movement routines, which stylistically allude to traditional dance techniques, with formally looser elements of contemporary dance. The result is a spellbinding dynamic of dance images and a series of compact and unique movement expressions.
Egoism in the production is manifested in feminine form, linked to beauty, but also to transformation. The man here is the instigator (or even the executor) of the woman’s change, causing her both pleasure and pain. The men in the ritual dance move with precision using their weapons, slicing the space up with their knives, just like conductors using their batons to lead their orchestras. Here, the men demonstrate their power and superiority. The more the woman tries to fight, the more enraged she becomes, losing control of the situation. The men cannot be influenced or controlled because they only exist in the imagination of a woman who has lived in a masked illusion for years. This is the first time that someone or something in her life cannot be manipulated and she finds herself without her comfortable protective shell. When confronted with the harsh reality, she finds it confusing and strange, unable to grasp it or respond to it adequately. Feeling confused and anxious, the woman begins to lose herself and desperately tries to reverse the situation and return to her safe haven. And yet, she moves away from the man as her struggle continues, and her return becomes impossible. Everything betrays her and she does not have enough strength to face the self-deception she has lived in for so long. Because she lacks the strength to face her own delusions, she is gradually crushed by her own illusory creations and dies. Juraj Haško’s music evokes a mysterious and tense atmosphere. The tense sounds, moving in composition loops, make the stage action more dynamic.
The production created with the Bubla Company and the Reserva civic association – the movement and theatre project Solo for Three Vacuum cleaners – is a personal testimony on the sensitive topic of motherhood. In the Slovak social environment, any de-mystification of this theme is usually received with scruples and is confronted with traditional prejudice. Because of the authentic treatment of the theme, the production did not receive a negative response or cause controversy. This was despite the fact that the idol of the mother is fully unmasked and the veils of infinite happiness and total fulfilment take a different form than is accepted in society. The choreographer’s choice of high artistic stylization also contributed to this.
In the first part of the production, the performer (Renata Ptačin) appears in an expressive costume which displays an irritating aesthetic (Martin Kotúček). Long, sexy slender legs dressed in provocative shimmering silver leggings are nimbly “firing” all kinds of disco dance variations, while the upper part of the body is wrapped in a transparent ruffled fabric, evoking the wings of a butterfly, dragonfly, angel. The head is covered in a massive unidentifiable object. Joyfully performing and revelling in the joke-soaked kitschiness, the self-irony of the poseur in her interpretation breathes freedom, egoism, and hedonism of being. Nobody (Daniel Raček) appears in the background, his dark figure being the deus ex machina of the woman’s actions, controlling her actions, subtly manipulating her, but also being her support. Nobody gradually brings the woman vacuum cleaners, taking off her imaginative costume and dressing her in comfortable and asexual home clothes. While revealing her face and thus her identity, the viewer also loses the chance to see her inner life.
With the growing number of vacuum cleaners onstage, the dance becomes more complicated – the machines obstruct the dancer’s movement, anchor her in one place. As a result, emotions are expressed more intensely, and the performance becomes more civil and specific. The love the woman gives to the vacuum cleaners, the devotion she feels towards them, is balanced by all the frustration caused by the restrictions, the overload of common ordinariness and pragmatic functionality of existence. Vacuum cleaning – sucking dirt – becomes a dualistic symbol of the noble feeling of breastfeeding and sucking out one’s energy and esprit. The process is examined to discover new things, to understand the connection the woman has to her vacuum cleaners. Peter Groll’s music covers a broad spectrum of aesthetic forms and offers a variety of dynamic and mood-evoking atmospheres of the choreography. The composer refrained from an overly descriptive approach and used music to follow the plot, sensitively responding to the nuances in content and dramaturgy (Peter Galdík).
This crucial topic, an issue that has been an important part of emancipatory processes, is staged by Renata Ptačin in a way that fully accepts the feelings of a woman, including all the paradoxes they bring along. The author implements all of these elements into her choreography with kindness and without pathos.
- 1998 – A Personality for Dinner, Dance Studio, conceived, directed, and choreographed by: Renata Bubniaková in collaboration with Tomáš Krivošík. Premiere: Dance Studio, Banská Bystrica
- 1999 – The Family, Dance Studio, conceived, directed, and choreographed by: Renata Bubniaková in collaboration with Tomáš Krivošík. Premiere: Dance Studio, Banská Bystrica
- 2001 – Joseph and the Chick, conceived, directed, and choreographed by: Renata Bubniaková in collaboration with Daniel Raček. Premiere: Dance Studio, Banská Bystrica
- 2002 – MY3 /The Three of Us, My Try, MY3, Bratislava in Movement International Festival, choreography: Renáta Bubniaková in collaboration with Lucia Kašiarová and Stanislava Vlčeková. Premiere: Aréna Theatre, Bratislava
- 2006 – Cosmonauts, Bubla Company, Contemporary Dance Association, conceived, directed, and choreographed by: Renata Bubniaková. Premiere: A4 – Space for Contemporary Culture
- 2007 – The Bride from Underneath the Dance Floor, Bubla Company, Contemporary Dance Association, conceived, directed, and choreographed by: Renata Bubniaková. Premiere: A4 – Space for Contemporary Culture, Bratislava
- 2010 – Three Penguins, Jonáš Záborský Theatre in Prešov, choreography: Renata Bubniaková, directed by: Michal Náhlik. Premiere: Jonáš Záborský Theatre in Prešov
- 2011 – The Wizard of Oz, New Stage Theatre, choreography: Renata Bubniaková, directed by: Michal Náhlik. Premiere: New Stage Theatre, Bratislava
- 2011 – Blood, Bubla company, Bratislava in Movement International Festival, conceived, directed, and choreographed by: Renata Bubniaková. Premiere: Cvernovka Gallery, Bratislava
- 2012 – Blood Brothers, Jonáš Záborský Theatre in Prešov, choreography: Renata Bubniaková, directed by: Michal Náhlik. Premiere: Jonáš Záborský Theatre in Prešov
- 2013 – Sherlock Holmes, Jonáš Záborský Theatre in Prešov, choreography: Renata Ptačin, directed by: Michal Náhlik. Premiere: Jonáš Záborský Theatre in Prešov
- 2015 – Joan of Arc, Jonáš Záborský Theatre in Prešov, choreography: Renata Ptačin, directed by: Michal Náhlik. Premiere: Jonáš Záborský Theatre in Prešov
- 2016 – Solo lamentoso, Pat Theatre, Studio 12, choreography: Renata Ptačin, directed by: Sláva Daubnerová. Premiere: Studio 12, Bratislava
- 2016 – Sylvia, Astorka Korzo ’90 Theatre, movement collaboration: Renata Ptačin, directed by: Soňa Ferancová. Premiere: Astorka Korzo ’90 Theatre, Bratislava
- 2019 – Solo for Three Vacuum cleaners, Bubla Company, RESERVA o. z., conceived, directed, and choreographed by: Renata Ptačin. Premiere: TICHO a spol. Theatre, Bratislava
- 2020 – Antonio Caldara: Dafne, Musica Aeterna, choreography: Renata Ptačin, directed by: Mariana Luteránová. Premiere: Garden of the Albrecht House, Bratislava