Why am I an avid dance and theatre fan?

I relish the fact that once I sink into a theatre seat, I’m teleported to another world away from reality and everyday life. In Dublin, it happened from my very first performance of the Spring Forward 2023 festival, the mystical Wired by Deyan Georgiev.

Still, it’s also important to go back to earth and keep up to date with what’s going on in the world. I appreciate that dance can raise awareness of important current issues, like migration in Laura Cemin’s and Bianca Hisse’s How the Land Lies or the war in Ukraine in Olga Dukhovnaya’s Swan Lake Solo. Compared to the media, performances offer a human and artistic perspective, and allow me to look at these difficult questions from a different angle.

Through impactful personal stories, I had a chance to access what it might be like to come from a background or sexual orientation that differed from mine. Jean-Baptiste Baele spoke in Nabinam about his roots in Madagascar and life in Europe as an adopted child. In Hope Hunt and the Ascension into Lazarus, Oona Doherty addressed the topics of manhood and social class, and Dominik Więcek cut a nonbinary figure in Café Müller. The artists’ confessional approach brought me closer to them and made me wonder whether differences actually matter. If they do, perhaps it’s only because they make us unique, like the transgender performers Gaya de Medeiros and Ary Zara in Atlas da boca.

The performances encouraged me to explore my own identity without living up to anyone else’s expectations, like Mélissa Guex’s ‘princess’ Rapunzel. I was inspired to do what I feel is right, simply Because I Can – as Eva Recacha aptly put it in her solo for dancer Lauren Potter.

Dance also has the ability to touch my heart deeply, as in Emma Martin’s Birdboy, and engross with such intensity that I felt like one of Boglárka Börcsök’s Figuring Age’s 100-year-old protagonists. But I also welcomed darker, less pleasant feelings – as arose when watching Believe by the duo Structure-couple.

If dance is the theatre of movement, I also pay tribute to the body, as Sebastian Abarbanell did in HOME. I marvelled at the nearly superhuman postures Ching-Ying Chien showcased in her Vulture, admired the cooperation and to-the-second synchronicity of the performers in Tamara Gvozdenovic’s and Kangding Ray’s METRONOMIA, and I simply relished the pure beauty of dance in Leïla Ka’s To Cut Loose.

And some performances just make me feel happy. I relaxed and I laughed at Loraine Dambermont’s Toujours de ¾ face! and my jaw hit the floor at shows that featured elements I had never seen before, like the stunning tongue choreography in Compagnie Les Vagues’s WELCOME. I used all my senses: in Ioanna Paraskevopoulous’s MOS my hearing sharpened as never before. But mainly I enjoyed the possibility to be totally present, literally Sull’attimo (‘in the moment’) with Camilla Monga and Emanuele Maniscalco.

And then there were the moments when I wriggled in my seat and wanted to get out of the theatre as soon as possible – not because the show was bad. I could not wait to dance myself, and feel as free as, say, the brave, inspiring choreographer Lovís Ósk Gunnarsdóttir and the women performing with her in When the Bleeding Stops.

Thanks to Spring Forward and Springback Academy for giving me a chance to witness all the above-mentioned wonders, and much more. As a journalist, I should be able to clearly describe my experience. In some cases, however, I believe that words don’t do. These moments are simply felt, lived, and engraved in my soul forever.

Marie Niček