Generation X Manifesto
Years ending in the number 9 have witnessed major and life-changing events in our country’s history. One of the most recent and most significant events directly affecting our present time is the fall of the communist regime in 1989, so that this year we can celebrate 30 years of living in freedom.
Those who were aged ten in those exciting times, are now forty years old. They are about halfway through their lives, spending the first quarter under communism, the second quarter in the transitional 1990’s and welcoming the 21st century as young adults. They had firsthand experience of the idiological, moral and intellectual transformation of the Czech society, they tested and experienced the integration of new technologies. They lived through the euphoria of having free future ahead, the naivety stemming from manifold opportunities, the disillusion with persisting human narrow-mindedness and understanding their own uniqueness. They are not nostalgic, although they can feel how much their generation is special. These people were sort of ‘laboratory animals’, and they still feel dizzy from time moving too fast. At first sight, though, their lives are not different from those of their younger or older peers, so called Husák’s children.
And what about the other perspective?
The dance solo Generation X brings a testimony of today’s forty-year-olds in the form of stage personification of one generation’s feelings. The piece is based on a research carried out among a group of twenty-one people aged forty. The collected data has been dramaturgically processed by Tereza Krčálová and the result became the initial inspiration for a new choreography. Michal Záhora has invited for collaboration the performer Helena Arenbergerová and through her dance he presents the highly personal and intimate manifesto of one generation which needs no further explanations. No words to be heard on stage, just simple lighting design and the stage raw and naked. Helena comes from the auditorium, enters the stage, barefoot, dressed in jeans and a light tee. No scenography means more space for dance.
The reunion of these two exceptional artists always brings interesting creative essence, although it does not abound in innovative creativity or breath-taking effects. The opposite is true - the choreography makes use of the principles of pure movement based on inner motivation and outer rhythm of Tomáš Procházka’s original music score. The dynamic monotonousness of mighty electronic beat perfectly (though not explicitly) defines the atmosphere of the past forty years. At some moments, Arenbergerová’s rhythmical precision and speed felt almost like a trance. She let the music lead her, control her, shape her and gradually, she reached the state of conscious understanding of her own existence. There came a moment of temporary resignation which resulted is a desperate effort to hide all signs of frustration. But it was only a mask, a helmet you could not take off, but you could adjust it. The climax of personal purification and harmony returned in several waves when the performer dissolved in the rhythm of dreamy sound landscapes. As the performance culminated, the sound became even more intense and sort of blurred the image of possible future events (but maybe it was just a momentary weakness of the on-going creative process).
The choreography marries Helena Arenbergerová’s refined and delicate dance expression with Michal Záhora’s original movement language combining the symbolism of dance flow, meaningful gestures and detailed expression. It is not necessary to know the exact background of individual scenes. Their energy resonates with sensitive viewers anyway. There is no need to have an explanation or evidence to accept something.
For those who could not do without a clear description, there was a programme and a print copy of the literary inspiration for this unique dance piece.
The première held on 21 October was followed by a sociological happening given by the sociologist Martin Buchtík who described the existential situation of the 1979 generation (estimated 190 000 people in the Czech Republic). It was an interesting attempt at pragmatism in the house of art, however, the poetics of the dance piece did not need it. After all, the key information (basic sociological stratification of model groups based on their education, marital status, income, profession, etc.) was included in a gamebook (an attachment to the programme) which seemed as “funny” as the shallow generation typology it offered.
Written from the première held on 21 October, in the Ponec Theatre
Generace X (Generation X)
Concept, choreography and direction: Michal Záhora
Dance and choreography: Helena Arenbergerová
Subject, research, and creative collaboration: Tereza Krčálová
Music: Tomáš Procházka
Costumes: Terezie Dvořáková
Expert consultations: Martin Buchtík (STEM)
Project curator and production: Honza Malík & Pulsar z.s.
Premiere: 21 Oct 2019