The international festival of contemporary dance, physical theatre and new circus, KoresponDance, has previously taken place in the Ždár nad Sázavou chateau and its immediate vicinity. This year, the organising team must have opted for the “rainy” version, due to unfavourable weather conditions and insufficient space for circus shows inside the chateau. They relocated all outdoor performances inside an ice stadium, regarding the safety of the acrobats. Therefore, the festival’s seventh edition could not rely on facilities of the chateau, while trying to maintain its typically poetic atmosphere inside a sports arena.


The Magic show. Foto: Dragan Dragin.

The Magic show. Foto: Dragan Dragin.

The opening choreography The Banquet was slightly affected by the relocation. The chateau interior would do better to the generous Baroque-style conception, complete with Baroque costumes and props, but certain embellishments and high-quality performances were so absorbing that it felt like in a chateau. A year-long French-Czech-Ghanaian collaboration resulted in a project which took us to the Baroque period. We saw the tired and slightly drunk participants of a banquet enjoying the feast with every part of their bodies. They were cheering, frolicking, running around, laughing hard, and like dogs chasing after pretty women who were taking off their clothes. This epic piece brings not only a fusion of European and Ghanaian cultures, African and contemporary European dance, but also a love story of two banqueteers, entertainment and humour, real gaiety that stems from eating good food and drinking good beverages. The choreography was created by Jean Gaudin and the vocal and musical parts were supervised by Sébastian Fournier. These two artists are a well-known duo at the festival, as they have collaborated on community and international projects for several years. The creative team also includes the musicologist and organist Barbara Maria Willi and Ghanaian dancer Ruhia Sadik Maltini. They were joined by the local Žďáráček ensemble. Although this multi-cultural project might seem bizarre – especially when a Baroque organ, a violin and huge African drums stand side by side on stage – it made for one of the festival highlights.

Friday night saw the performance of No(s) terres, a duet by the L’Yense company composed of a French and a Srí Lanka dancers (Sarath Amarasingam, Olivier Renouf). They raised questions concerning the origins of the Earth and humankind: “no terres” – no land, “nos terres” – our land. Despite brilliant performance of both dancers and appealing movement vocabulary which corresponded with the theme, the story’s plotline and punchline were weak and rather vague. The piece offered many interesting ideas and refined moments, yet they were not logically linked. The individual parts showed no concurrence, as soon as one idea culminated, another one began, in a completely different style. The dancers had two props to handle - earth and a bag in which it had been brought on stage. They piled up the bags in order to create something like a mountain that they could manipulate using ropes. However, this play with props did not fit the spirit of the piece. At one moment, the performers danced with the bags, only to switch to dancing with the earth – the audience had no chance to decode the timing and intended order off all the onstage actions. In fact, it resembled slam poetry - you need to be in the mood for it, otherwise it does not work.

The Banquet. Foto: Dragan Dragin.

The Joli Vyann company’s duet Lance moi en l´air, by contrast, carved a clear storyline of two lovers. The audience was pleased to be able to follow the appealing and crystal-clear story of love, relationships, with moments of joy as well as pain. Olivia Quayle and Jan Patzke’s breath-taking combination of acrobatics and contemporary dance was rewarded by frantic ovations. There was little to object in the choreography, but regrettably, the authors stuck to the simple storyline, though artistically and intellectually, they would surely be able to reach far beyond. Moreover, similar productions appear much too often.  

The impressive miniature Sa Présence, inspired by the world of birds, was performed by Agáta Jarošová at the chateau museum. The choreography had already been hosted by Prague’s Invalidovna on the first day of the festival (for more information, go here.)

Illusions and magic lovers surely enjoyed Billie Mullaney and Nielse Weijer’s Magic show. The two artists had met during the residents’ project FILLIMIT at Korespondace 2016, and for the following edition, they created Corridor Piece, a site-specific performance set in one of the chateau’s long corridors. This year, they have reunited for another project - a parody of David Copperfield-style magic shows. They did not hesitate to imitate the famous magician’s gestures, moves, mimics, but all in a magnified form. They used plenty of props and performed tricks such as an appearing rose, magic cards, vanishing acts, costumes changes etc. Of course, the spectators revealed almost all of them. It was all done without words, only through body movement. The piece was set to magical music evoking suspension and mystery. The popular theme attracted high number of viewers.

ZIG ZAG. Foto: Dragan Dragin.

The poetics of Woody Allen’s movies were recalled in ZIG ZAG by the French hip-hop group Cie Alexandra N’Possee. Two men meet on a bench; based on Allen’s principles, they do not know each other but they start a couple of fundamental dialogues. The protagonist is a homeless man who confides to a stranger and tells him his story. The key and functional prop in the performance is a bench that can be turned over and still serve for sitting. Arch-shaped bench feet allow easy manipulation which the performers often take advantage of. The performance unfolds in a hip-hop style but it features contemporary dance, too. No wild hip-hop party - just a poetic and nice encounter without a happy end, as can expected from Woody Allen.

Written from the Korespondance festival, held from 12 to 14 July in Žďár nad Sázavou.

The Banquet
Artistic director, choreographer: Jean Gaudin
Music director, solo singer: Sébastien Fournier
Music dramaturgy, cemballo: Barbara Maria Willi
Performers: Ruhia Sadik Maltiti, Ruben Kumade
Percussions: Daniel Brown, Christopher Ametefe
Violin: Vojtěch Jakl
Flutes: Anežka Levová
Violoncello: Michael Raitmajer
Vocals: Zuzana Barochová, Matěj Benda, Vilém Cupák, Kenneth Maciver & Žďáráček
Stage Design: Jean Gaudin and Lukáš Urbánek
Production: Centrum choreografického rozvoje SE.S.TA
Première: 12 July 2019


No(s) terres
Concept and scenography: Olivier Renouf
Choreography: Sarath Amarasingam, Olivier Renouf

Performers: Sarath Amarasingam, Olivier Renouf
Artistic collaboration: Erika Zueneli
Lighting design: Francoise Michel
Sound design: Eric Sterenfeld
Première: 2018

Lance moi en l'air
Choreography: Joli Vyann, Florence Caillon
Performers: Olivia Quayle, Jan Patzke
Music: Xavier Demerliac and Florence Caillon
Première: 2016

Magic show
Concept, choreography: Billy Mullaney & Niels Weijer

Performers: Billy Mullaney & Niels Weijer
Première: 13 July 2019

Zig Zag
Choreography: Abdennour Belalit
Performers: Abdennour Belalit and Laurent Kong a Siou
Original adaptation and setting: Julien Thomas and Florent Ricci
Stage Design: Patrick Bette
Première: 2009



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