The Czech capital is full of theatres – at least that was my feeling while walking the streets of Prague and bumping into a divadlo (theatre) at every corner. But contemporary dance has always been attracted to more unusual spaces, so during the four days of Czech Dance Platform audiences saw performances in a former military site and a swimming pool-turned-club, among many other fabulous venues.
Tanec Praha have been supporting contemporary dance in the Czech Republic for more than 30 years. One of their most important events is the annual Czech Dance Platform, a selection of about ten of the most interesting local contemporary dance works from the previous year. The festival is visited mostly by an international professional audience, and the organisers are rightly proud of the accompanying programme that includes discussions, artist talks, an award ceremony, and this year a review-writing workshop as well, in partnership with Springback Academy. Due to the pandemic, the platform was postponed from spring to autumn 2021 and presented 14 shows during an intense four-day period at the end of September.
Thinking back, the first thing that comes to mind is how many shows tackled dark and serious topics, such as illness and grief. Still often considered taboo in Western society, these can be risky material for artistic works too. The realisations are accordingly mixed. There’s Tumor: Carcinogenic Romance, by the artistic group named T.I.T.S. and performed by Nela H. Konetová and Jaro Viňarský, which aims to rethink our relationship with cancer but trades focus and depth for eccentricity and a long burst of ideas. There’s Effugio Volume 2 by the young crew of Dočasná Company z.s., that deals with self-loathing and self-harm, and operates with easy-to-decipher symbols and a lot of angry, urgent or even violent dancing while the performers lead us from room to room in one of Studio Alta’s unique spaces. Although often banal, the piece still touched me with its naivety and youthfully idealistic ending. And then there’s Separated by Markéta Vacovská, who won the professional jury’s award for outstanding creation and performance of this piece.