Czech Dance Platform 2016: Three questions for Suzy Blok, member of festival jury

This upcoming Wednesday 20th April 2016 begins five-days marathon Czech Dance Platform 2016. Within festival, there are going to be presented chosen pieces from Czech choreographers, who have the chance to get one of prestigious awards. We interviewed shortly Suzy Blok, international member of jury and artistic director of famous Dansmakers Amsterdam in the Netherlands.


What comes to your mind when you hear „Czech dance“? As a nation, do we have any dance reputation?

Czech dance has quite a high reputation although the contemporary dance is perhaps younger than in some other countries. Many influences come together, not only several cultural influences because of Czech dancers travelling abroad to study or to work and then come back with other “luggage” theatrical, physical, post-modern, and together with a high technical standard this often results in original performances. What first comes to my mind is the theatrical approach of dance-performance. Czech dance is usually expressive and makes use of theatrical elements. The staging and lighting are usually important. Companies like Spitfire, Peter Šavel, Tereza Ondrová, VerTeDance, have been often represented at the platform so I get a chance to see their development. I’m really looking forward to seeing the new works at the platform!!


Do you find any common characteristics in between Czech dance scene and dance in your country?

Of course there are influences which affect choreographers throughout Europe. I think we share characteristics like theatricality, originality and high technical standard. I think we could also say that in both countries the young generation is interested in pushing the borders of the dance discipline – in different ways. In Czech Republic residency possibilities seem to be growing where as in The Netherlands the possibilities are becoming less. Common characteristics are the difficulty to get funding for young artists – though I think in The Netherlands it’s still better than Czech Republic. The international exchange is growing though and the Czech artists are touring more and more. The management of productions seems to be getting more professional as well and with the yearly platform – and now the Aerowaves Spring Forward festival in Pilsen – it’s getting a boost.


When you evaluate a dance piece, what criteria do you take into consideration? What is the most important for you?

 First of all the work needs to “communicate” and affect me in some way. With the jury we talk about what is the first impression – did it manage to touch and “affect” us? Then I look at originality, craftsmanship, artistic concept. Is the piece original in artistic approach, is the artist aware and conscious of the work and what it says? What is the aim of the artist and did he/she manage? Is it created with craftsmanship? How is the dramaturgy? How is the artist’s awareness of the use of stage, lighting, time, movement dynamic, music, costumes, etc? Is there an urgency/relevance that speaks from the work?

These are all criteria which we discuss as a jury. Of course we don’t always agree and aesthetics can vary but on the whole when we look at the work with these criteria we manage to have an interesting discussion and share thoughts and ideas about the work. We try to give all the works the same attention and take it very seriously.



By: Josef Bartoš

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