The V.4 Dance Festival brings together some of the boldest dance-makers from the Visegrád Group (V4), the cultural and political alliance of Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia. They come together for this rare two-day festival of Central European contemporary dance, with four US premiers.

Featuring performances by Debris Company with choreography by Stanislava Vlčeková (Slovakia), Věra Ondrašíková (Czechia), Paweł Sakowicz (Poland), and Timothy and the Things with choreography by László Fülõp (Hungary).

Get started with an Indefinite Article by NYU Professor Larry Wolff.

What's in a Name

In 2016 the Czech Republic officially adopted a short-form name, Czechia, to echo the standard practice of countries having long-form names and shorter, less formal monikers. Yet the name has not caught on. Read more about it on the Washington Post: “The Czech Republic is getting a new name: Czechia” (April 2016) followed with “The Czech Republic got a new name, but few people seem to have noticed yet” (May 2017).

Learn more about the artists

Věra Ondrašíková (Czechia) — Guide is a hypnotic audiovisual experience in which past and present become one. The two performers, in individual solos, sculpt the stage space with lasers to magical effect.

Paweł Sakowicz (Poland) — TOTAL is a solo created and performed by Sakowicz that speculates on dance virtuosity with a tongue in cheek approach. Sakowicz is a choreographer and dancer, working with artists and curators in Warsaw, London and Berlin. Sakowicz’s artistic development was supported by a scholarship awarded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland, a residency program run by the Institute of Music and Dance in Warsaw, and the Alternative Dance Academy of the Art Stations Foundation by Grażyna Kulczyk.

Debris Company (Slovakia); Stanislava Vlčeková, Choreographer — Wow! is a fantastical duet exploring the history of humankind and its impact on the environment.

Timothy and the Things (Hungary); László Fülõp and Emese Cuhorka Choreographers — Your Mother at My Door is a duet that plays with the idea of boredom and elapsed time spent on odd and humdrum activities. The two extraordinary performers interact with and confront each other in scenes that conjure up childhood foolishness enacted with adult emotions.

Office Hours

V.4 artists and organizers Paweł Sakowicz, Anikó Rácz, and Miroslava Kovarova talk with NYU Professor Pamela Pietro about subversion and politics, #MeToo, advice for students… and the superior discipline of dance artists.

Plus... a bonus word of advice from Paweł Sakowicz:

Check out the trailers of these upcoming performances

TOTAL trailer
Pawel Sakowicz: TOTAL (Trailer)
Debris Company / Eugen Gindl - WOW! [ teaser ]
Debris Company: Wow! (Teaser) featuring choreography by Stanislava Vlčeková

A Brief Lesson in History

In his Indefinite Article on the V.4 Dance Festival, NYU history Professor Larry Wolff gives context for the festival’s organization. He refers to famous Czech writer Milan Kundera’s essay “The Tragedy of Central Europe” published in The New York Review on April 26, 1984:

The Visegrád meeting of 1991 looked to the precedent of a medieval meeting of the Polish, Bohemian, and Hungarian kings in the very same place in 1335. In fact, the crucial cultural precedent for this grouping of countries dated back only a decade to the early 1980s when the Czech writer Milan Kundera published a celebrated essay on “The Tragedy of Central Europe” (first in French in 1983 in Le Débat, then in English in 1984 in the The New York Review of Books). This was the era of renewed Cold War, and Kundera’s essay, coinciding with Ronald Reagan’s denunciation of the Soviet Union as an “evil empire” in 1983, was also intended as an indictment of the Soviet Union and its Cold War domination of the communist party states of Eastern Europe.

The Visegrád Group is the cultural and political alliance of Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to learn a little more you can give The Visegrád Group: A Central European Constellation by Andrzej Jagodziński a read. It is a book published by the International Visegrád Fund (Bratislava 2006) on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of the Visegrád Group that includes a collection of essays. You can also learn more on the Visegrád Group website.

Contemporary Dance 101

These performances are in conversation with the best of contemporary European dance. Get started with these texts to consider the ways they resonate or contrast with better-known European choreographers (including other Skirball 2017-18 artists Mette Ingvartsen and Jerome Bel).

Gabrielle Cody and Meiling Cheng, eds., Reading Contemporary Performance: Theatricality Across Genres (London: Routledge, 2015).

Susan Foster, Corporealities: Dancing Knowledge, Culture and Power (London: Routledge, 1995).

Bojana Kunst, Artist at Work, Proximity of Art and Capitalism (London: Zero Books, 2015).

Bojana Kunst, Choreographing Problems: Expressive Concepts in Contemporary Dance and Performance (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015)

André Lepecki, Exhausting Dance: Performance and the Politics of Movement (London: Routledge, 2006).

Randy Martin, Critical Moves: Dance Studies in Theory and Politics (Durham: Duke University Press Books, 1998).

Extra Credit

The countries currently comprising the Visegrád Group have brought the world luminaries including Milan Kundera, Tadeusz Kantor, Alphonse Mucha,  Miloš Forman, and Franz Kafka… plus (fun fact) Andy Warhol’s parents were Slovakian immigrants. Get caught up on the contemporary art scenes in Budapest, Hungary:

Image description: A large, hanging artwork by Emese Benczur that spells out "Find Your Place" in black letters on a striped backdrop
A recent installation by Emese Benczur: “Find Your Place.” Credit Ani Molnar Gallery

…and Bratislava, Slovakia:

The Danubiana Meulensteen Art Museum with the Danube in the background. Credit Archive of the Museum Danubiana

…and Warsaw, Poland:

“Ghetto Enterpreneurs” by Radek Szlaga, another artist represented by Leto. Credit Bartosz Gorka/Leto

…and Prague, Czechia:

Karlin Hall, home of the Prague Biennale. Credit Pavel Horejsi for The New York Times

…plus a Czech art gallery outpost on the Upper East Side:

A view inside the Czech Center, which is on 73rd Street on the Upper East Side, with a projection on the staircase wall by Francois Pisapia. Credit Philip Greenberg for The New York Times

And check out Manifesta: The European Biennial of Contemporary Art, coming up in Palermo.