The 20th International Festival of Contemporary Dance, Bratislava in Movement, is currently taking place in Slovenia until 22 October. It features performances of Bloodlines from Stephen Petronio Company; Speak low if you speak love by Wim Vandekeybus and Ultima Vez; and Korean Jung In Lee’s solo dancework, Skins.
Festival director Miroslava Kovářová tells IAM what to expect from this year’s festival, and her plans for the future.
What is the market for contemporary dance like in Slovakia?
The market for contemporary dance almost does not exist here. We do have quite a good education system that produces dancers, although there are not so many choreographers coming out of our schools.
The problem is that there is no supporting structure – we do not have a centre or a theatre where people can get a residency or present their work on regular basis. As a result, there is no market and talented people end up leaving the country to find work. This is not good for our future.
What is the home-grown dance scene like – is there plenty of talent?
As a long term teacher in the dance department of our Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava I can see the natural talent for movement that our students have. Many of them are coming from a folk dance background and this leads me to the idea that there is something in our genes that makes us good dancers: our ancestors were connected to nature and our folk dance is very rich, so we have many talented dancers. The problem is once they finish their education their potential is lost because of the conditions I have mentioned.
How is this year different to other editions?
From the point of the dramaturgy there is not much difference compared to previous editions, but because it is our 20th anniversary we wanted to attract larger audiences. To do this so we have added bigger and more prestigious dance companies to the programme.
Besides performances we have an exhibition of photographs by Ctibor Bachratý, taken over the course of the festival’s history. We also have a masterclass with Stephen Petronio and a debate with Kristien De Coster, manager of Ultima Vez.
What is the plan for the festival going forward – to expand or remain condensed?
There are many variables for the future, but the most important one is the team. We have to build and sustain our team, which means securing support from the Arts Council. Its new funding scheme, designed especially for festivals, will be introduced for the first time in few weeks.
The other problem we face each year is finding suitable venues. There are just three venues in Bratislava that are big enough and have the correct equipment for our dance shows. We have to compete with other companies who want to use these spaces, and it is hard to secure them exclusively for the festival.