Contemporary dance steps out in Poland after communism

Sat Apr 25, 2015 6:26am EDT
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By Anna Rzhevkina

SOPOT, Poland (Reuters) - When Jacek Krawczyk was growing up in then-communist Poland, the government was happy to train him in karate and acrobatics. He did not imagine that one day he would become a dancer using contemporary styles shunned under communism.

A quarter of a century since the collapse of communism, the northern Polish city of Sopot is hosting a week-long dance program that ends on Sunday.

At the Polish Mistrzowie Polskiego Tanca festival, which opened on Tuesday under the auspices of the Sopot Dancer Theater, everyone can dance their hearts out -- and do pretty much whatever they want.

"The idea of the festival came from a joke," event organiser and head of Sopot Dance Theatre Joanna Czajkowska told Reuters.

She said her colleague Krawczyk had started kidding about belonging to a "dinosaur generation" of dancers and suggested having everyone who was at the forefront of Polish contemporary dance on one stage.

The result was an unprecedented gathering, for Poland, of the choreographers who gave Polish contemporary dance a new lease on life in the late 1980s and early 1990s after communism. They created a unique spirit characterised by Western structure combined with Eastern emotion and romanticism.

Krawczyk said the currents of contemporary dance that swept Europe in the first part of the 20th century were nipped in the bud when communism took hold in Poland after World War Two.

Classical ballet and folk dancing were the rule and while there were no official restrictions, lack of schools, infrastructure and financial support meant other styles could not develop, from the point of view of training dancers and for audience appreciation.   Continued...