As for the independent scene, this autumn has been marked by celebrations. Two contemporary dance companies – NANOHACH and VerTeDance have celebrated their tenth anniversary. However, not only anniversaries like these call for some big-scale events, which has been demonstrated by a company centered around Viliam Dočolomanský. From October 28th to November 1st, 2014 audiences could experience 12 years of Farm in the Cave literally first hand, as the promotional video with a tattoo motif claimed.
Major part of the festival programme naturally consisted of the mainstays of the "Farmer” repertoire (The Theatre, Whistleblowers, Waiting Room). After a longer period of time (into which we do not count the Theatre Odyssey in summer) we could also see Sclavi/Song of an Emigrant. Dark Love Sonnets were only available as video recordings in the "Farmer" greenhouses. These, assembled at various locations in Prague, provided a shelter for approximately ten people, who, seated on wooden crates and mini straw mattresses, could watch different "Farmer" documentaries every day (a sample of a training session, but also "anthropological" expeditions in search of new themes from Slovakia, Spain, Brazil and Brussels).
And it was as if a greenhouse represented and at the same time did not represent an apt analogy characterizing the way Farm in the Cave work and create. In a similar way to gardeners, members of this company take care of the seed/movement material with love, dutifulness and dedication so that a rare flower - a unique, specific movement language is born. On the other hand, a greenhouse represents an environment with ideal conditions for growth, isolated from the outer world. Needless to say, in terms of funds and facilities, the present-day situation of the independent scene still leaves a lot to be desired. However, any alienation or isolation from
the outside world are not typical of Farm in the Cave, as we could see several times in the course of the festival.
Dance in the Greenhouses
Festival events were not bound to one venue only. Performances took place at the New Stage, at Ponec Theatre, at NoD and La Fabrika, there was a greenhouse at the National Theatre piazzetta, but also at the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art, which also held an international symposium Farm in the Cave of Central Europe.
Another instance is the openness to cooperation. It is not very common to both herald and close a festival with a production that has not been created by Farm in the Cave. A week before the start of celebrations, eleven performers representing six companies danced for Farm in the Cave at the National Theatre piazzetta in an intervention called 12 years. The dancers took their turns one by one in a square dominated by three greenhouses. It was up to individual artists how they make use of the facilities the venue offered. Some of them took refuge inside, others performed exclusively outside, in some cases it was both combined. And just as individual dancers representing various companies took their turns, so did the overall mood, music, concept and movement phraseology change as well. It was interesting to watch how performers interacted with each other in duets and trios. In the first piece, performed by Martina Hajdyla Lacová and Karolína Hejnová of the ME-SA company and dancer Emil Leeger the energy of each of them was initially clearly confined to the greenhouse, however, in the course of time it dynamically floated among them like an imaginary tennis ball they passed from one to another. On the contrary, Lea Švejdová and Marta Trpišovská of NANOHACH danced a synchronous duet. The interaction between performers was most obvious in the “Farmer” duo Jun Wan Kim and Minh Hieu Nguyen. The most impressive among the solo performers was Charlotta Öfverholm, who emerged from the crowd in a costume resembling Charlie Chaplin. With an unsteady walk, her blurry eyes flitting around, she approached the greenhouse and began to flow around its walls, fragile, yet incredibly strong inside. The intervention, serving as an invitation to the upcoming festival, was concluded by dancers gathering in the greenhouses, collective improvisation and their sudden disappearance in the crowd.
A Face Contorted into a Grimace
The more crowded the beginning was, the more intimate the ending. On this occasion Farm in the Cave invited Spanish choreographer Daniel Abreu with his solo work Perro, which was premiered in Madrid in 2006. In Spanish, Perro – among other things – means a villain, and indeed, it was not funny at all. Abreu performed a sophisticated, gloomy show that made audiences smile at some points rather inadvertently. Dressed in a formal attire, he looked the audience up and down, then “served up” a series of gestures that he had seemingly carved up first. The moving factor here was the right hand that repeatedly pulled the left hand from his pocket and put it into a pose, moved in front of his face that suddenly contorted into a grimace that only brought meaning to the whole gesture. And the hand went back in his pocket, then again in front of his face, which returned to a normal expression. Isolated and stiff expressions grew in intensity at various rates and combinations due to the contrast with the incredible smoothness and plasticity of the leading right arm. In other scenes Abreu left behind pieces of his clothing one by one in poses resembling a photo shoot for a magazine up to a point when he appeared in front of the audience completely naked, but in such a way that nothing could be seen. His virile member was covered by a long piece of wood. In a dim light he crawled on all fours in an imaginary cage, giving an impression of a dog with its tail down. In the end, dressed once again (this time a white shirt and a tie were replaced by a black T-shirt), he found support in a wall, around which he twined, stood upside down, bent against... Although he was alone, he managed to fill the stage with an atmosphere of tension.
Festival 12 years of Farm in the Cave provided a nice retrospection, an insight into the very heart of a creative process as well as some “extra-Farmer” bonuses. Nevertheless, it still lacked any premiere, pity that the Whistleblowers had been premiered in spring already.
Written about the festival 12 years of Farm in the Cave, which took place on October 21st and between October 28th and November 1st, 2014 in Prague.