Roots – The Journey To the Roots

The Štúdio tanca dance theatre from Banska Bystrica, led by Zuzana Ďuricová-Hajková, has represented contemporary dance trends and the philosophy of the modern dance theatre in the Slovak Republic for seventeen years. It is a professional dance ensemble, which brings original authorial projects of Slovak and foreign artists. The ensemble was introduced to the audience before Christmas in Reduta, Brno with the production Roots by Jozef Vlk, the director and author of music, and the choreographer Stanislava Vlčeková, who systematically explores the contemporary dance. The work is inspired by Homer's tale of Odysseus and it reflects on the journey of a man who often goes astray from the right path, but eventually returns home to his roots. The performance starts with rumbling, even terrifying music and the feeling of certain bleakness, ominousness and danger accompany us throughout the evening. In the dim light appear strange creatures – sirens, nymphs, fireflies and fairies, who play, whisper and use sounds and whistles, through which they communicate with each other. Besides that world there is a lonely, hunched man on a journey. Mysterious things start to happen. A translucent cloth is lowered from above and creates a special enclosed space. Nymphs begin their whirl with wavy and rippling movements. Three girls in long multi-coloured dresses with a bare back are full of animalism and joy of provocation. However, they remain mysterious and cruel and they try to lead the man astray. His movement is minimal at first, but it gradually gains strength through dynamic falls. On the stage appears another man – the Fate, the Shadow that is represented by a strong masculine acrobatic duet. The black shadow leads its man. Again, the nymphs attack the man and altogether do a dancing ritual ceremony. They try to arouse the man, they play with him and they chase him away with wild sounds that resemble a wolf barking. Their mimic language is too expressive and the choreography does not evolve and is not surprising. It repeats itself in the initial motion material. One of the nymphs breaks free; she gets out of the restricted space and begins to manipulate the man and his shadow. The man comes to the woman and wants to touch her. He starts to play with her hair and a love dance full of desire evolves. This is one of the most interesting parts of the choreography. He tears her dress off and a dance of bright female bodies dressed only in body leotards follows. And here the weaknesses of the performers become apparent the most. If the ensemble is made of professional dancers, they should control their body completely – the posture, the arm work, the technique of each movement – these are the shortcomings that are revealed in all its "nakedness" at this moment. The woman subdues the man, but his shadow appears and the situation starts to change. Another highlight of the whole choreography is a trio where, on the contrary, the men begin to play with the woman; they subjugate her and destroy her. The cut of the light shows us only her feet. The end of the journey is clear – we are back to our roots. “We constantly return home to leave again. We look forward to returns, although sadness and nostalgia hide inside.” What attracted my attention the most was the scenography (JaOnMi CreatureS). It is simple but concise. Owing to the cloth and excellent lighting (lighting designer Ján Čief) there are two spatial designs on the stage – inside and outside. The cloth is loaded with the balls that symbolize "the weight of life" and our "roots". The performance Roots brings a clear idea about a journey of a man through his life and the need for anchoring. Parts with interesting choreography are followed by lengthy and repetitive passages. The choreography lacks development. Also, I expected the performers to be more professional and their bodies more expressive.
Written from the performance on Dece
mber 13, 2015, Brno, Reduta.
Roots Choreography: Stanislava Vlčeková Directing and music: Jozef Vlk Costumes: Katarína Holková Stage Design and Graphic Design: JaOnMi CreatureS Lighting Design: Ján Čief   Translation: Anna Würtherlová

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