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Věra Ondrašíková Q&A

4 APRIL 2016 - Věra Ondrašíková is a dancer and choreographer from the Czech Republic who has been recognized across Europe, from her 2005 ‘Most Outstanding Dancer’ award at the Masdanza Festival in the Canary Islands to projects in Lyon, Amsterdam and her recent work in the UK. She was selected by the Be Festival to take part in a residency initiated and supported by the Czech Centre and Art and Theatre Institute in Prague. Nick Mastrini asked Věra some questions regarding her process and projects.

BE NEXT is the youth performance programme of the BE Festival in Birmingham, which is dedicated to the performing arts. It is a creative opportunity for young people from diverse backgrounds to learn theatre and performance skills from professionals. In 2016, it will run from June 21–25.

Earlier this year, along with Mike Bell, Ondrašíková ran a workshop over the course of a week at MAC Birmingham. Refugees, asylum seekers and others got involved. ‘Every day we started with warm up, before exploring a different topic/idea for the show each time.’ says Ondrašíková.

‘This workshop encouraged children to bring their individuality and unique personality to the stage.’ The show held on 19 February at the Old Rep theatre, she says, was inspired by David Attenborough’s show about mating rituals.

‘I really enjoyed to work with Mike Bell and some of the young performers and I truly hope that one day they will be professional artists and they’ll fulfil their dreams.’ This show will be presented during the festival.

What do you enjoy about working in the UK?

Contemporary dance in UK, compared to Czech dance, is an independent and stable artistic sphere. And this is the most important fact. In 2004 I had a great chance to perform my piece during the Aerowaves festival — I was only 25 and it opened my eyes. Two years later I came back for workshops and short collaborations. I will always remember meeting John Ashford, David Hinton, Johannes Birringer and Michele Danjoux.

What would you consider as the central themes of your work?

Perhaps it’s a theme of introspection. My latest piece, GUIDE, is conceived as a dance solo of a young male dancer who, for a single day, finds himself in the midst of a dialogue with his old self. It’s a kind of testimony to the qualities of our lives. Are we truly ourselves or is this feeling of ours a mere fallacy? To what extent is our life limited and controlled by social conventions? Have we been living a life of quality, the way we really want it to be?

Those and many more questions are dealt with by the two performers: the young dancer, Jaro Ondruš, and an actor two generations his senior, Miloslav Mejzlík.

What do you find more challenging: the initial choreography of a piece or the performance itself?

Usually the initial choreography of the piece — especially when you work with new people or you create a piece for the State Theatre and you don’t know the dancers, or you don’t know the light designer, for example.

GUIDE is a very technically-challenging project. The aim was to create an illusionary 3D light-space, with individual parameters controllable by the protagonists. Light design plays a major role, as it reacts to the performers, or, in other words, the performers are in control of the light, able to model it and direct it where they decide. Instead of demonstrating technological innovations, the piece wants to build up the light-space that will underline the concept and the idea behind the production. So at the moment I would say that the show itself is more challenging.

Text: Nick Mastrini


Images courtesy of Katherine Hannaford