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Modern dance and Baroque music combo enchants SND

STRIVING to bring modern dance to a wider audience, the Dance Mondays project at the Slovak National Theatre (SND) offered a strange combination on March 17 of the contemporary dance choreography of Milan Tomášik set to live Baroque music.

STRIVING to bring modern dance to a wider audience, the Dance Mondays project at the Slovak National Theatre (SND) offered a strange combination on March 17 of the contemporary dance choreography of Milan Tomášik set to live Baroque music.

Off-Beat Live, a co-production of Slovenia, Belgium and Slovakia, is a one-hour exploration of the relationship between music, dancers’ bodies and breathing, supported by the performance of musicians rather than the modest stage design. However, Tomášik deftly incorporated a set of plastic circles into the show, which he both choreographed and performed.

Baroque was not the only musical genre featured in the performance: it was combined with the psychedelic and futuristic “music of the spheres”. And although Baroque compositions may not seem suited to modern dance, the Off-Beat’s musicology advisor, Lidija Podlesnik-Tomášiková, disproves this notion in the accompanying bulletin.

“In Baroque dance, costume, music and dance were intertwined. Music and dance were conceived according to the principle of contrast, subtly leading the spectators from one emotional state into another,” she said, adding that due to the physically demanding nature of solo Baroque dance, brevity in music was favoured and, “thus, the Baroque suite was created, connecting four characteristic Baroque dances: allemande, courante, sarabande and gigue”.

She chose the works of lesser-known 17th-century Slovenian Baroque composer Janez Krstnik Dolar. Podlesnik-Tomášiková stressed the movements in Dolar’s three suites illustrate a contrast between early Baroque suites and later Baroque compositions.

The live music was played by Cuore Barocco, a Slovak ensemble that first appeared in 2010 at the Bratislava-based Academy of Performing Arts, and which brings the music of centuries past to audiences throughout Slovakia and abroad. Tomášik admitted that dancing to live Baroque music was his dream for Off-Beat from the very beginning.

Other contemporary dance pieces to be staged in the smaller studio of the new SND building include Voda na Vode (Water on Water) by Bratislava’s Elledanse troupe (on April 14), as well as more of Tomášik’s choreography, Merriments of the Past / Veselosti minulosti, this time performed by the Štúdio Tanca theatre from Banská Bys-trica (on June 9), and Painted Bird, the Bessy-Award winning piece by Pavel Zuštiak, performed by Jaro Viňarský (with a supporting cast of local volunteers) to the music of Christian Frederickson (on June 20). The latter two performances will be part of the Eurokotnext.sk theatre festival.

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