Doc. Václav Janeček Phd. is dancer, dance pedagog, ballet master, publicist a choreographer, working for 40 years on czech dance scene. We are happy, he spend some time with questions, prepared by Brígida Pereira Neves, demisoloist from NDM.
You have worked for so many years, a lifetime really, in the field of dance. Where does your love of dance come from, and why did you start to dance?
I first came across the classical ballet technique as a figure skater. The creation of so called free skates was in fact choreography, as every program had its dance content and the technique of classical ballet helped to develop basic coordination that is very close to dance in figure skating. Then I started to perform in a children ice show and it was the kind of theatre that enchanted me. And there was not a long way to the ballet prep-classes at the National Theatre in Prague, first children's roles in ballets, studies at the Dance Conservatory, first professional contract, the Academy of Performing Arts......And where my love for dance comes from? I just HAVE IT – movement, dance, mime, company, stage, backstage, audience.....all this big machinery is a wonderful, magical world for me, it's exciting, fulfilling, educating, satisfying.....even though is can hurt you sometimes.....but when you are in love, you feel your life makes sense, with all its joys and sorrows.
At what point in your life did you realise that your calling in dance was not to perform but to teach, to research and to discover new ways into dance?
That's an interesting point: I've never felt like having or considering to have another career when I retire, like teaching, for instance.......but I was truly fascinated by the "masters" who taught me to dance, act and I wished to be in their position one day. I accepted the first offer to teach dance classes for children and then I began to give ballet lessons to rhythmic gymnasts, I also collaborated with figure skaters and in 1993, started to teach at the Academy of Performing Arts where I had gained my degree the year before...... at the same time, the then director of Laterna Magica offered me to lead the company's ballet trainings and so one of my dreams came true! And as I wanted to have the edge, I realised my talent – necessary for teaching - was not enough (though I was immensely grateful for it) and so I got interested in the wider "context" of teaching – which means to know the connections, relations with other arts, be able to speak and follow your tactics, simply to combine communication, knowledge and experience competences and go deeper and deeper. Fortunately I've always been very curious and this quality helped me to discover new things and use the well-known and well-proven ones. I've also paid attention to the work of other artists and been able to take something from it, without them actually knowing how much they influence me...
Do you think your work will ever feel completed, or is it a continuous discovery, fed by the people you meet, the places you visit, the art you experience? What is the accomplishment you are most proud of and why?
I think I've already answered this question: I'm sure that if you are open and curious in your field of interest, you can always discover something new! You learn to be sensitive to the delicate tissue of various impulses and "signs" that excite you (or less romantically, that make you nervous) and you wish to find out what they give you and how they "challenge" you. The impulses come mainly from the people around you but also from your mind, ever-changing emotions and attitudes to life (they change with our maturing, but also with various life events, states of mind, experience etc.) And I've tried to embrace all that. I like being amazed by how much I can learn and how much I don't know yet! And it's not an unpleasant feeling at all, on the contrary – I'm happy there's still something to discover, there are new ways of learning and I believe all the new opportunities push me forward and make my life meaningful. Unfortunately, I can't be proud of my "achievements" and not out of any false modesty! I'm exaggerating now but I hope to be still lucky enough to be challenged, confronted and useful. I don't expect anything "big" to come - I'm happy to have been a part and contribution in many minor activities which enable to realize the great projects. It sounds a bit pathetic but I simply prefer being part of a team of people who listen to each other, think and act......and my share of contribution must bring me inner joy (or feeling of satisfaction)...I'm not the type of man who needs memorials or adoration (I would doubt the sincerity of such acts anyway).
Who have been the most influential charaters in your dance life, and what do you believe they showed you, opened up for you or taught you?
In this case I really can't give any simple list of people who made me feel grateful for sharing their experience, materials but also professional and personal support. These people know they were and still are important to me. Generally, what I said before is still valid: increase your sensitivity to people, events and situations that are of any benefit, which means you can recognise the benefits and the value of attention we give to each other...!
You have been a marking and decisive figure in the Czech dance scene for many years now. What would you like to see more of, and hat would you enjoy to see develop in the next ten years or so?
I wish we were able to get on well, collaborate on friendly terms, enrich each other and appreciate other people's effort and talents ......I mean all of us who form the dance "community" as well as the rest of the artistic world. I wish we were able to be comprehensible to the public and really worth their admiration.