Prague dance festival to present groundbreaking work of iconic American choreographer

'A Quiet Evening of Dance' will be performed by trusted William Forsythe acolytes; TANEC PRAHA also takes dance to the streets of the capital this year.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 03.09.2021 12:35 (updated on 06.09.2021)

After its traditional June season, the TANEC PRAHA festival continues with an extra September program featuring new work by a real star of the current dance scene. William Forsythe returns to the festival after two decades with his recent choreography for “A Quiet Evening of Dance.”

Most of the festival will take place outdoors in the afternoons in several locations in Prague’s Žižkov district, but “A Quiet Evening of Dance” will be at Hudební Divadlo Karlín on Sept. 11 at 8 pm. Tickets are available through the festival website.

Forsythe over the course of 45 years has pushed classical ballet into modern times – his new piece even includes hip-hop elements.

“‘A Quiet Evening of Dance’ is truly quiet and minimalist, demanding the viewer's intellectual attention, and succeeds in gaining it through intimate virtuosity, graceful movement and gentle mischievousness,” say TANEC PRAHA organizers.

One of the foremost choreographers of his generation, Forsythe began his professional career as an apprentice with the Joffrey Ballet in 1971. He later worked mainly in Germany, the Netherlands, and France. He headed his own self-named company from 2005 to ’15, after which he focused on his international career.

“A Quiet Evening of Dance” premiered in London in 2018, and is one of his most recent works. It is imagined as something akin to an evening of chamber music.

The New Yorker’s dance critic Jennifer Homans praised the piece when it was first performed. “It is the kind of dance we rarely see anymore, one that leaves audiences elevated, energized, overcome by the sheer pleasure of movement and music. Who would have expected this from an American choreographer who has spent the past four decades in the trenches of the European avant-garde, deconstructing ballet’s fundamental premises?” Homans wrote for the magazine in 2019.

The evening will be performed by some of Forsythe’s most trusted collaborators. The program also includes two new pieces, two reimagined repertory works, and a prologue.

TANEC PRAHA festival also takes dance to the streets this year, with 30 artists performing in the spaces of Prague’s quirkiest neighborhood. “They explored the inconspicuous, inhospitable and infamous zones of this specific locality for us by movement, thought, and senses. Now they are ready to share their stories. Are you ready to listen?” TANEC PRAHA asks.

On both Sept. 11 and 12, Žižkov in Motion starts at 3:30 pm at Kostnické náměstí and then moves to under the railway bridge opposite PONEC, the stairs to Vítkov Hill closest to PONEC, and ends at the first turn above the Army Museum on Vítkov Hill. People planning to attend are asked to register in advance, due to current restrictions.

Next in line is SILENT, an audio performance for a group of audience members in a public space. It will take place at náměstí Václava Havla, the plaza next to the National Theatre, on Sept, 19 at 4 pm and 5:30 pm.

The 35-minute work consists of instructions for body and thought. The audio is started by one voice and continued by the next until there is a series of voices that combine into a landscape of thought and movement. The performance will be led by dancer and choreographer Tereza Ondrová.

SILENT responds to the Covid-19 pandemic, its impact on the public space, on closed borders, and on exposed vulnerabilities of our bodies. “How do we as individuals in such a world connect with each other? What does the body remember and what does it forget? Can we create new bonds? Can we experience closeness in such a world? How have our bodies changed in this time? The body is in the main role – in the space between loneliness and sharing,” TANEC PRAHA asks.

There is a final event Sept. 29 at 4 pm with premiere of the “ICARUS” featuring Czech and Slovak teenagers together with three professional artists from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and France. It will take place at Skatepark Výstaviště in Prague 7.

This article was written in association with TANEC PRAHA. To read more about our partner content policies see here.

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