Petra Fornayová

The performer, actress, choreographer, director, author, dance pedagogue, festival director, and writer Petra Fornayová (1972, Bratislava) studied law at the Faculty of Law, Comenius University in Bratislava, and dance at the Academy of Performing Arts. She did an internship at the EDDC (European Dance Development Centre) in Düsseldorf and Arnhem in Germany, and completed an education programme in art management – Courants d’Est at the Maison de la Culture du Monde in Paris.

She began her dancing career in the Auriga modern dance company, which later became professional and was transformed into Zuzana Hájková’s Contemporary Dance Group. In this period (1992–1994) Fornayová was a performer known for her unbridled energy in her movement expression and a very personal engagement in performance. These qualities became typical for a change of performance style which had been known until then in programmes produced by youth modern dance ensembles. Such productions emphasized the importance of full synchronization of group scenes and choreographers worked with movement using a kind of matrices of modern dance variations. The group’s projects foreshadowed the later individualization of dance interpretation in contemporary dance and dance theatre. The dance qualities and enthusiasm of the company members supported Zuzana Hájková in her efforts to fulfil her vision of creating a professional contemporary dance company in an official theatre environment, that is, to institutionalise it.

Most members of the Contemporary Dance Group then moved to Banská Bystrica. In 1994–1995, Fornayová was a member of the ballet section of the State Opera in Banská Bystrica under the leadership of Zuzana Hájková. Since 1996, she has been part of the dance and theatre scene as an independent artist. In 1998 and 1999, Fornayová was a guest performer in the productions of the Théatre du Mouvement ensemble in Montreuil, France.

Petra Fornayová is the co-founder, and since 2011 the director, of the Contemporary Dance Association (CDA). CDA started its activity in 1997 and provided production supervision for nearly all Slovak independent dance artworks. Fornayová is also the founder and dramaturge of the Nu Dance Fest in Bratislava, a festival of contemporary dance which became the most important showcase of progressive contemporary dance productions and performances in Slovakia already at its first meeting in 2006. Fornayová has created a festival concept that includes educational activities, workshops, creative workshops, and professional discussion forums, and in the festival programme she regularly presents the latest trends in contemporary dance and movement theatre, cross-genre productions, and conceptual projects. Thanks to Fornayová’s openness to new forms of contemporary art, the festival has always had a clear programmatic vision and fulfilled its ambitions of intergenerational and interdisciplinary collaboration. Fornayová has long succeeded in opening up the themes of professional contemporary dance beyond the professional dance territory.

Between 2003 and 2007, Fornayová worked as a dance dramaturge at the A4 – Zero Space in Bratislava which she co-founded (the current name is A4 – Space for Contemporary Culture). In this period, most independent dance productions were presented here. In 2003, Fornayová started her collaboration with the SkRAT Theatre. She co-wrote and performed in SkRAT’s productions Guinea Pig (2003), Paranoia (2004), The Hungry Don’t Trust the System (2004), and The Sad Life of Ivan T. (2005).

Her cooperation with director Ján Šimko brought to stage such productions as A Lesson of Oriental Dance (2005), Bratislava Memory I – Petržalka Stories (2008), while her work with Marold Langer-Philippsen resulted in the production Novelty Poverty (2006). Their collaboration then continued in Fornayová’s dance projects in which Ján Šimko acted as the dramaturge.

Petra Fornayová’s devised productions were presented at such festivals as Prague Dance; Divadelná Nitra; MediaWave, Györ; JamaisVu!, Paris; Ars Cameralis, Katowice; Festival d’Otoňo Madrid; Festival Ogledalizacija, Novi Sad; International Festival of Contemporary Dance, Kishinev; ConfiDance Festival, Sienna; i-camp neues theatre; and Tanztendenz in Munich, among others. She participated in many projects in Slovakia and abroad (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Austria), including international projects and co-productions, worked with numerous directors and choreographers (for example, Mary Fulkerson, Claire Heggen, Mathew Hawkins, Alysson Green, Marold Langer-Philippsen, Fritz Vogel, Norbert Aboudarham, Rastislav Ballek, Alena Lelková, Svetozár Sprušanský, Martha Renzi, Bill Young, Tina Mantel, and many others).

In her devised work, she has collaborated with prominent Slovak musicians and composers of various generations: Peter Machajdík, Marek Piaček, Boris Lenko, Milan Adamčiak, Martin Burlas, Daniel Matej, Peter Groll, Lucia Chuťková, Fero Király, Ivan Šiller, among others.

In recent years, she has participated in projects of the interdisciplinary art group Cluster Ensemble, such as Dance with Changing Parts (2015), Bon Jour Monogramista T.D. (2016), Six Pianos (2016), and PATTERNS (2019). She has actively developed her cooperation with the Alta Studio in Prague, and occasionally helps make the programme selection of the HYBAJ HO! festival in Prague.

Fornayová is an editor of the Vlna / urban weaving mag journal and has published in other art periodicals, e.g., Salto, Dance, or kød. She is actively involved in the dramaturgy of the multi-genre project Vlna Live

Fornayová was cast in the awarded film Nina directed by Juraj Lehotský, where she played one of the leading roles, as well as in Mira Fornay’s movie Cook, F**k, Kill. She worked as a pedagogue at the Faculty of Education, Comenius University in Bratislava, and at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. She regularly teaches as part of the educational programme of the SE.S.TA Centre for Choreographic development in Žďár nad Sázavou.