The Extraordinary – A Successful Experiment At The Gallery

The fact that SPOLK is worth following was clear from its previous projects. It is a group of multitalented performers, the graduates of the Duncan Centre Conservatory – Kateřina Jabůrková, Adam Kmenta, David Králík, Žaneta Musilová, and Ester Trčková. In the beginning, they won the summer residency program in the ALTA Studio and second place in the competition for Joker by Taneční aktuality. Their rise was super fast and it seems that they are still moving up. 

The Extraordinary. Photo: Vojtěch Brtnický.

The Extraordinary. Photo: Vojtěch Brtnický.

Their new project The Extraordinary launched a big experiment. They have chosen a non-traditional form of narration in their epic testimony through dance, when they scattered the story into several sequences, taking place at the same time in various rooms the audience can peek into. The haven of this project is CLUB 3. BŘEH gallery, which is exhibiting Martina Trčková’s pictures. They are painted in shades of turquoise, thus performers’ costumes follow the same color range.

The gallery the audience enters is shrouded by smoke through which turquoise spotlights shine. Despite the fog, it is possible to tell that the space is indented and there are many doors. There seems to be nobody at the first sight, yet visitors can see a bartender (Ester Trčková) polishing glasses in the small room in the back. Captivating background music entices suspense and curiosity. The first door opens, then another one lures the visitors to enter. A girl, whose behavior refers to a mental disorder (Žaneta Musilová), lives in the first door. She constantly examines her treasures, brushes her teeth, reorganizes things, and covers herself in a (turquoise) towel. A psychiatrist (Kateřina Jabůrková) lives next door and gathers intimate news about her patient. Two technicians (Adam Kmenta and David Králík) live in the room on the other side of the gallery. They observe the behavior of the girl next door via a camera in their messy workshop. While the audiences observe all these people and their relationships, each of them can soon guess what kind of story is going to be narrated.

The Extraordinary. Photo: Vojtěch Brtnický.

As the story is set simultaneously at different places, you may feel strange at the beginning, and you do not understand what it means. The performers are very close to you and you may freely move between them. You can examine and touch all the props, keep eye contact, and communicate with the actors nonverbally. You stroll from one side to another and try to understand what happens where, collecting the fragments of the mosaic. Everything suddenly starts to make sense: the concept is based on repetitive dance parts and motion testimonies. Only tiny changes can be observed, yet they escalate the message. The repetition makes sure that you do not miss anything: you can witness a psychiatric exam or anxious being in a small flat. A “calling” for a gathering signaled by different music comes in regular intervals. Everybody comes together and dances. The otherness of the characters is removed for a while, yet the girl with the apparent mental disorder cannot resist the pressure of the environment and escapes to her world…

The movement concept is based on walking and running, but there are many pure dance and purposeful parts that push the story forward and strengthen some of the observers’ assumptions. The dance and movement are full of energy and the acting nuances in the expressions and bodies are depicted accurately. The proximity of audiences and dancers generates identification with performers and audiences are drawn into the story.

The Extraordinary. Photo: Vojtěch Brtnický.

Can the mentally ill girl be made to become uniform? Or will society let her breathe freely? Can the audience be blamed for the behavior of performers? The performance raises these questions and answers some of them, yet some resonate only in the audience’s intimate experience.

The alternative, artful performance is embellished by details, such as QR codes with messages on the walls, things, and a neck of one performer; or messages written in invisible ink, psychiatrist’s secret notes hidden at low-key places. We cannot say more because it would deprive the future audience of the experience.

SPOLK got down to a daring experiment in the development of the performance. It excels in movements as well as directing and dramaturgy in the challenge of the concept. The Extraordinary is engaging and thrilling, has exceeded my expectations, and satisfied my desire for an unusual experience.

 

Written at the re-run on 3 November 2022 at the CLUB 3. BŘEH gallery

 

The Extraordinary
Concept and choreography: SPOLK
Performers: Kateřina Jabůrková, Adam Kmenta, David Králík, Žaneta Musilová, Ester Trčková
Music: Václav Chalupský
Light design: Tomáš Morávek
Costumes: Klára Pavlíčková
Stage design: Klára Pavlíčková
Assistant to the scenographer: Kateřina Hubená
Production: Simona Dejmková
Teaser: Pavel Borovička
Poster design: Anna Borovičková Ročková
Photographer: Anna Benháková
Coproduction: Club 3. Břeh

 

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